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

Brian Christian, Doubleday, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-53306-5
In a fast-paced, witty, and thoroughly winning style, Christian documents his experience in the 2009 Turing Test, a competition in which judges engage in five-minute instant-message conversations with unidentified partners, and must then decide whether each interlocutor was a human or a machine. The program receiving the most "human" votes is dubbed the "most human computer," while the person receiving the most votes earns the title of "most human human." Poet and science writer Christian sets out to win the latter title and through his quest, investigates the nature of human interactions, the meaning of language, and the essence of what sets us apart from machines that can process information far faster than we can. Ranging from philosophy through the construction of pickup lines to poetry, Christian examines what it means to be human and how we interact with one another, and with computers as equals—via automated telephone menus and within the medical establishment, for example. This fabulous book demonstrates that we are capable of experiencing and sharing far deeper thoughts than even the best computers—and that too often we fail to achieve the highest level of humanness. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 215 pages - 978-0-385-53307-2
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-307-47670-8
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-87916-5
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-670-92080-8
Paperback - 303 pages - 978-0-241-95605-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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