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Download The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive, by Brian Christian Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,269 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Brian Christian Narrator: Brian Christian Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2011 ISBN: 9780307879158
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Named for computer pioneer Alan Turing, the Tur­ing Test convenes a panel of judges who pose questions—ranging anywhere from celebrity gossip to moral conundrums—to hidden contestants in an attempt to discern which is human and which is a computer. The machine that most often fools the panel wins the Most Human Computer Award. But there is also a prize, bizarre and intriguing, for the Most Human Human. 

In 2008, the top AI program came short of passing the Turing Test by just one astonishing vote. In 2009, Brian Christian was chosen to participate, and he set out to make sure Homo sapiens would prevail. 

The author’s quest to be deemed more human than a com­puter opens a window onto our own nature. Interweaving modern phenomena like customer service “chatbots” and men using programmed dialogue to pick up women in bars with insights from fields as diverse as chess, psychiatry, and the law, Brian Christian examines the philosophical, bio­logical, and moral issues raised by the Turing Test. 

One central definition of human has been “a being that could reason.” If computers can reason, what does that mean for the special place we reserve for humanity? Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Absorbing.....Mr. Christian cleverly suggests that the Turing Test not only tells us how smart computers are but also teaches us about ourselves....Mr. Christian covers a great deal of ground with admirable clarity but with a lightness of touch, and he never tries too hard. He also has a real knack for summing up key ideas by applying them to real-life situations....Following Mr. Christian's advice, we should not see this victory as a threat but as a chance to learn even more about who we are. Every technology that seems to dehumanize us is an opportunity to rehumanize ourselves The Wall Street Journal
  • Questions about what computers are doing to our minds lie at the heart of.....[this] charming, friendly, and often funny read. The Boston Globe
  • [A] curious look into the history and potential of artificial intelligence, and a brilliant comparison between artificial intelligence and our natural variety. Christian may have won a prize demonstrating his humanness, but confirms his victory in this humane, humorous and thought-provoking book.....Christian wants to call attention to how special we are, and his book is a succes Columbus Dispatch
  • A fascinating exploration of what it means to be human. This book will surely change the way readers think about their conversations. Booklist, starred review
  • A heady exploration of the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and human nature. Christian's examination of the way machines are forcing us to appreciate what it means to be human leads him to explore everything from poetry, chess and existentialism…[and] offers an overview of the history of AI. Kirkus Reviews
  • Exhilarating....it does make you think. Reading it, I constantly found my mind pinging off of whatever Christian was discussing and into flights of exploratory speculation about the amount of information encoded in the seemingly routine exchanges of small talk or the reasons why it's much harder to tell a false story in reverse chronological order. It's an unusual book whose primary gift lies in distracting you from itself. I'd like to see the computers come up with something like that. Salon
  • This is a strange, fertile, and sometimes beautiful book. It has been said that man creates images of himself, then comes to resemble the images. Something like this seems to be going on with the computer. Brian Christian writes with a rare combination of what Pascal took to be two contrary mindsets: the spirit of geometry and the spirit of finesse. He takes both the deep limitations and halting progress of artificial intelligence as an occasion for thinking about the most human activity—the art of conversation. Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft
  • This is such an important book, a book I've been waiting and hoping for. Machines are getting so smart that it forces us to take a completely fresh look at what smart is, and at what human is. Brian Christian takes on this very weighty task, and somehow makes it fun. Christian is nimble, insightful, and humble -- a very human human, indeed, and one you will like very much. David Shenk, author of The Forgetting, The Immortal Game, and The Genius in All of Us 
  • THE MOST HUMAN HUMAN is immensely ambitious and bold, intellectually provocative, while at the same time entertaining and witty – a delightful book about how to live a meaningful, thriving life. Alan Lightman, author of Einstein’s Dreams and Ghost
  • A book exploring the wild frontiers of chat-bots is appealing enough; I never expected to discover in its pages such an eye-opening inquest into human imagination, thought, conversation, love and deception. Who would have guessed that the best way to understand humanity was to study its imitators? David Eagleman, author of Sum and Why The Net Matters

  • Illuminating.....an irreverent picaresque that follows its hero from the recondite arena of the 'Nicomachean Ethics' to the even more recondite arena of legal depositions to perhaps the most recondite arena of all, that of speed dating.....As THE MOST HUMAN HUMAN demonstrates, Christian has taken his own words to heart. An authentic son of Frost, he learns by going here he has to go, and in doing so proves that both he and his book deserve their title. New York Times Book Review
  • Terrific.....one of the rare successful literary offspring of Gödel, Escher, Bach, where art and science meet an engaged mind and the friction produces real fire......dense with ideas The New Yorker

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Spencer Murata | 2/11/2014

    " HEY KATHY! READ THIS BOOK! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolyn | 2/10/2014

    " It was interesting, I learned a lot about artificial intelligence, I'm glad I read it, but it was a bit of a slog. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie Bell | 2/10/2014

    " This just made me happy. I feel like the author has studied things that I have (philosophy and computer science) and has come to similar conclusions. It makes me want to study linguistics and poetry! He is clearly young in some ways - very idealistic, but also seems wise beyond his years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven Weinstein | 2/3/2014

    " So good. Turing Test. Loebner Prize. Contest between natural language processing computers to see which can most often be mistaken for a human via five minutes instant messaging session. But author takes the other side and strives to be the human least often mistaken for a computer. To do so he studies vast range of subjects to glean what it is to be human and therefore present as human. Linguistics, philosophy, poetry, comp sci, entropy, Deep Blue... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 aili | 1/30/2014

    " While I found the topics touched on fascinating, the transitions were a bit choppy and I felt the author didn't delve very deeply into any of them. That said, I found the book highly enjoyable. It certainly appealed to my geeky sense of humor, and I may have a small author crush. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Miriam | 1/18/2014

    " Utterly fascinating. Deals with the intersection of language, thought, and the ability of computers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 12/29/2013

    " Entertaining, but not as much info as i'd like. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Blubeari | 12/29/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book. I appreciated that while the author conveyed an appreciation for humanity, there was no doomsday scenario for the future as technology becomes a more integrated force in our lives. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca Hazelton | 12/17/2013

    " This book is really excellent. Each chapter taught me something I wasn't aware of before, and encouraged me to think critically. I also appreciated the personal anecdotes and the enjoyable POV throughout the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenifer | 11/24/2013

    " An interesting examination of what it means to be human through the ways we create artificial intelligence. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Seth | 9/24/2013

    " Some friends started a non-fiction book club. This was our first selection. It provided great fodder for discussion and was pithy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie Angel | 6/23/2013

    " Awesome. Book is framed by the Turing test. Author is a computer scientist, philosopher and a poet. Admirably suited to write this book which is enlightening and funny. One can read about art, the origin of love, language and ice hockey all on one page. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 3/21/2013

    " This dragged just a bit in the penultimate chapter, but overall it was a GREAT read and very provocative. I feel like I learned a lot about AI as well as about the human kind (HI?). I highly recommend it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robyn | 2/15/2013

    " It 's an interesting teaser; how is the writer going to stack up against the machine? Still, a bit rambling. Lots of interesting ideas and connections in a sort of free-association style. Not carefully reasoned. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Audrey | 11/12/2012

    " Read this book so we can talk about it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hillary | 11/5/2012

    " BEST BOOK EVER BRIAN CHRISTIAN IS A HERO. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ronan O'Driscoll | 10/17/2012

    " There was a touch of Malcolm Gladwell-itis to this book but the writer seemed like a nice fellow. Someone you would definitely enjoy talking to. It glossed over some heavy stuff (sometimes labouring minor topics). Overall, it was pretty interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathryn | 9/29/2012

    " Thoughtful, funny, and provocative exploration of the ways in which AI and humanity diverge and intersect. I especially enjoyed Christian's wry play-by-play of his participation in the Loebler Prize competition. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aristos | 9/16/2012

    " This is definitely going in the short list of "Books that I think all Computer Scientists should read." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jungmin | 8/3/2012

    " it makes me to think again about being human and the correlation between humanity and technology... very remarkable and I liked it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adalberto | 6/5/2011

    " The book is a fascinating read on the increasingly blurry line between human and computerized communication. After reading it, I'm conscious of how mechanized are some of our daily conversations with people. It makes you want to reassert yourself as a human. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erik | 6/1/2011

    " Nice summary of information theory at the end - I should be writing these... Nice scope. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maureen | 5/16/2011

    " Well written. Thought provoking. Needed to bend my brain to grasp some of the finer points. A good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 5/13/2011

    " This dragged just a bit in the penultimate chapter, but overall it was a GREAT read and very provocative. I feel like I learned a lot about AI as well as about the human kind (HI?). I highly recommend it! "

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