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The Most Human Human Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

The Most Human Human is a provocative, exuberant, and profound exploration of the ways in which computers are reshaping our ideas of what it means to be human. Its starting point is the annual Turing Test, which pits artificial-intelligence programs against people to determine if computers can "think". 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?

©2011 Brian Christian (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"This book will surely change the way readers think about their conversations." (Booklist)

"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)

"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)

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    William Meisel Tarzana, CA USA 02-25-13
    William Meisel Tarzana, CA USA 02-25-13 Member Since 2011
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    "More than the title suggests"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Depends on the friend's interests. This book is entertaining, but also thought-provoking.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    This is really a philosophy book with the theme of the Turing competition between humans and computers to appear human as a theme to create some suspense. The thought and research that the author put into what makes us human, and the nature of human discourse is fascinating, but the Turing test is almost a distraction. (I must admit a prejudice. I think the idea of computers emulating humans is a waste of time and discussion, and not a valid direction for research. I published Computer Oriented Approaches to Pattern Recognition in 1972 and The Software Society this month that goes into this further.)

    Christian's ideas, independent of the Turing test theme, are interesting and thought-provoking. They are well-written and enthusiastically presented in audio form. It seems today that we must come up with titles that grab a potential readers attention, but a title like "What it means to be a human" describes his focus better. Too bad that more readers aren't simply interested in philosophy and ideas.


    What about Brian Christian’s performance did you like?

    It seemed like a personal message.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No one moment I can cite, but the discussion of how we converse, with its subtleties and meaningful pauses, is a subject that I found persuasive and haven't seen elsewhere in general reader sources.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Michael Encino, CA, United States 02-25-13
    Michael Encino, CA, United States 02-25-13 Member Since 2014
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    "A Whole lot of Interesting stuff that adds up to nothing"
    What would have made The Most Human Human better?

    A more unified story


    Has The Most Human Human turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Brian Christian?

    The narrator wasn't a problem.


    What character would you cut from The Most Human Human?

    There was no Principal character.


    Any additional comments?

    If you have an average attention span don't read this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael United States 01-24-13
    Michael United States 01-24-13 Member Since 2011
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    "How many robotic tasks make up your day?"

    This is such a wonderful, thoughtful book about what it means to be human. Centered around the Turing Test, an annual competition for computers to exhibit intelligent behavior alongside human competitors in various language based assessments, the author trains to win The Most Human Human prize. While the prize is sort of a gag (since the competition is really meant to test the computers against real live people) the author starts to meditate on what it might mean to be the most human human and in the process discusses many interesting happenings in artificial intelligence as well as examples of people acting less than human. How many robotic, thoughtless, automatic tasks make up your day. How many things in your life are just like computer routines, written into your code at one point and run when necessary?

    I read this almost a year ago and I still think about some of the things brought up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew A. Barzyk Homer Glen, IL 12-01-12
    Andrew A. Barzyk Homer Glen, IL 12-01-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Computer Sci. Sheds light on the Human Condition"

    This is a fascinating look at who we are as human beings from the perspective of a person picked to take part in a challenge to pick the computer out from a group of people. How far have computers come? Can they be mistaken for human beings? They can mimic human beings but what is it, really, that makes us different from them? This is the story of a man in a struggle to make that determination and be forced to test it. Think about it... you go to a web site and you are invited to "chat" with someone about the products offered on that site: are you chatting with a real human being? How can you tell? How you can tell, is what this book is about...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David McLure 10-10-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Not at all what I expected. Better!"
    Would you listen to The Most Human Human again? Why?

    Probably... someday. The book touches on many different areas - all of which go into what it is to be human - many areas where one's own humanity could be considered sorely lacking. I also hope and expect to read the sequel, as I expect that the Turing contest is only going to get more interesting as time goes on.


    What other book might you compare The Most Human Human to and why?

    Not sure. I will say that my very next audible.com purchase was "The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human" by Jonathon Gottschall. Narrated by Kris Koscheski.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pavel Czech Republic 07-24-12
    Pavel Czech Republic 07-24-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Entertaining and interesting"

    It is a must read for any computer savy person. Funny but it made me think. What are the limits of computers? What the substance of human and how it could be evaluated via quick interview?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mann 07-16-12
    Mann 07-16-12

    Hi. My name is Mann & I am an Enterprise Communications expert by profession. I have always loved reading books and primarily enjoy books on Finance, Science & Technology and History. I do hear an occasional Fictional book though I prefer to read them instead.

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    "When computing meets humanity."
    Would you listen to The Most Human Human again? Why?

    Definitely. The book specially gains momentum in the second half with some extremely thought provoking essays and insights into the realm of artificial intelligence and what computing holds for us in future.


    What other book might you compare The Most Human Human to and why?

    Information. Though I prefer The Most Human Human more than information. This book is about a human struggle to define his humanity against computing. Its more philosophical in nature too.


    What about Brian Christian’s performance did you like?

    I loved his intonation and pauses. His grasp over the subject matter seemed complete. He navigated the complex terrain of computer science with remarkable poise.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The Most Human Human.


    Any additional comments?

    A great read of people involved with technology. This book offers some beautiful essays into the nature of technology and how AI may unfold in future. But yeah, it is a little slow in the beginning but gain momentum in the second half.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel DECATUR, GEORGIA, United States 03-29-12
    Daniel DECATUR, GEORGIA, United States 03-29-12 Member Since 2015
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    "What makes us human?"
    Where does The Most Human Human rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Easily among the best!


    What did you like best about this story?

    This book made me revisit the philosophical question,


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin Cork, Ireland 03-19-12
    Martin Cork, Ireland 03-19-12 Member Since 2010
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    "You v R2D2"
    What did you love best about The Most Human Human?

    I loved the mix of science and anecdote in this book. As a software engineer with an interest in all areas of science, I found the meditations on what it means to be human and whether machines could ever qualify for the title fascinating. I think the book would appeal to a broad range of people. It is written in a really accessible fashion. The narration is also excellent.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Most Human Human?

    I really liked the story behind the title for the book


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jamie launceston, Australia 02-03-12
    Jamie launceston, Australia 02-03-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Some very insightful moments!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book builds some great insights into both humanity and and computer science. i would defiantly recommend it to anyone with technical interests


    What other book might you compare The Most Human Human to and why?

    I dont think i have read much that goes along these lines, but it looks like there is plenty out there


    What three words best describe Brian Christian’s performance?

    animated and articulate but at times a little unclear


    Any additional comments?

    i think this book says quite a lot for its length compared with many other books, defiantly worthwhile...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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