The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
This book really knocked my socks off. Under the guise of telling about his experience as a human competitor in an annual contest to see if computers can fool humans in a text-off, the author covers the evolution of chat-bots, but also dozens of other topics. Page after page dealt with concepts I had never given any thought to, but which were fascinating. Such as: did you know that competitive checkers basically died in the late 1800s when the two top players in the world played the exact same “perfect” game dozens of times in a row? And that the same thing is happening to competitive chess right now? How does your smart phone know what you are going to type before you type it? Do you think all those helpful chatters who appear in popup windows to “answer your questions” while you are shopping on the Internet are real human beings? What is the algorithm for knowing when to interrupt someone in a conversation? All this and much, much more awaits you in this outstanding blend of hard science, philosophy, linguistics and the-future-is-now computer facts. The author does a decent job of narrating his own book, but I believe a professional narrator would have given more life to the performance.
I feel a bit guilty only giving this four stars (not five), but I have to make it consistent with my grading scale. This book is unquestionably enjoyable. It is definitely a refreshing perspective, a very thoughtful exploration. Startlingly poetic.
But, not particularly "meaty", in my opinion. That is, it doesn't delve into computer science - it's mostly anecdotal in its narrative. Nevertheless, highly entertaining.
Brian is a master illuminator of the complexities in our daily lives and ties in metaphors from digital computing in ways that has taught me so much about myself and the way I think. his deep insight about his mind simplified much of the anxieties about overly-analyzing everything.
I really enjoyed this book, and learned a lot at the same time. It's not like a textbook with unbiased, plain facts, it's put into the context of humanity with many interesting anecdotes.
While I never found myself bored, or not smart enough to understand, I found his tangents that turned into full chapters slightly annoying. While he's in the middle of one thing, he branches off into a side note, or anecdote, and that's fun, but they occasionally drag on for 45 minutes and you completely lose sight of the original message.
This book was well researched, wide ranging, well organized, full of new ways to draw conclusions and make connections, and utterly fascinating. I am a computer scientist and mathematician and I love to see how theories and algorithms apply across genres - art, compression, literature, entropy, text games, chess, and of course The Turing Test. I am definitely left with a greater sense of what humanity is, and what it is not, and I feel inspired to become a more human human.
I come from more of a technical background in regards to AI, and found a more philosophical treatise on man vs machine refreshing. Many of my personal interests (computer chess, neural networks, the singularity, speculation on the soul) crossed here, which was thoroughly enjoyable. I did find some of the conclusions to be a bit self aggrandizing of the liberal arts, which unfortunately tainted my views on many of his arguments.
The writer is extremely precise with his choice in language, which is not surprising given his background in poetry, and his philosophical arguments were well laid out. From a technical perspective, this book targets a more lay audience, and thus was not difficult to follow.
It wasn't a book that really had characters other than the author himself.
It read a little slow at times, and tended to drift towards the end. It was interesting, but not a page turner by any means.
Awesome read. Not just about AI (though you can pick up lots if computer science jargon), but about language, philosophy, life... Lots of interesting discussions, though I'm slightly disappointed that in the end he merely related the results of the Turing test, and offered no transcript. I think it would have been fun, after learning about the strengths and weaknesses about programming bots and characteristics of computer vs human conversations, to read and see for ourselves if we could judge or pick up on nuances that help distinguish a bot's response from a human's. Left me with an optimistic kind of feeling though, like I want to go out and absorb reality in its fullest and live as unique, un-anonymous and "incompressible" a life as I can.