l'enfer c'est les autres
The writer really knows how to talk about what it means to be human. The Turing Test competition is a device for the author to talk about what it means to be a human versus being a computer. The actual competition that the author wins is not as exciting as his preparation for the competition and his expositions on thinking machines (both humans and computers).
The author explores how humans try every year to make computers more and more human, even when we don't really know when their programs are "human enough"
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.
Interesting subject! However, the authors superfluous ramblings add up to very little in the end. If you must, go watch his talk at the Santa Fe Institute online - it's actually quite good.
I have often heard speakers use humans for inspiration in their attempts to build better A.I. - this is the first time I have heard an author use A.I. as a modus for building a better human. The erudition in this book is staggering, but it is never used boastfully. Instead the ideas get layered one on the other, building an artful and logical thesis. I was particularly inspired by his comparison of chess games to daily conversation; the beginnings and the endings are largely already known, the real chess playing lies in the middle game where the personality of the player comes through. In a conversation the work and the weather are standard openings - how we get away from the standard is where the real conversation starts.
One listen will not do for this book, I imagine I will be coming back to it many times in the years to come, as well as purchasing the hard copy in order to foist it on loved ones.