The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence teaches us about Being Alive, is a chef-d’oeuvre book by Brian Christian. The book highlights how computers are slowly becoming “human” courtesy of the undergoing technological revolution. In addition, the author explores how human beings behave like computers. Conventionally, the book underscores how computers shape the idea of being ‘human’ in the eyes of different people. The book has numerous strengths and weaknesses, just like any other popular science book.
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This paper gives a critical analysis to Brian Christian’s masterpiece work, The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence teaches us about Being Alive, by highlighting its strengths and weaknesses.
The first clear-cut strength of this book is the wide application of study areas right from the beginning. Brian Christian has extensive knowledge in poetry, philosophy, and computer science, and this aspect helps the author to cover a wide array of subjects concerning humanity. The book is chiefly based on the Turing test, and thus one would expect the author to be major on the events surrounding this test, which occurs during the annual Loebner Prize competition. However, Brian Christian uses the events of this competition to explore other areas of human living.
The book explores issues in philosophy, biology, psychology, theology, poetry, communication, and computer science, among others. In a recap, the author tackles hundreds of topics by provoking the reader to think logically. The book is suggestive, which stirs the readers to think from different perspectives. Christian achieves this goal by sticking to a form of narrative, which remains in the background, thus letting ideas to stand out conspicuously throughout the book. Therefore, instead of the readers forming opinions, they are compelled to think critically on the issues raised throughout the narrative.
The second most outstanding strength of the book lies in the extensive referencing and exploration of theories by other writers. For instance, the author explores Garry Kasparov’s chess theory to highlight how human beings have stopped thinking by resorting to rules in a bid to achieve the desired results. On the chess game, youngsters are contemporarily concerned with memorizing past games, and thus instead of becoming ‘masters of strategy’ they become ‘masters of memory.
Nevertheless, Christian does not conclude whether this aspect is good or bad; on the contrary, he gives his opinion and lets the reader draw the conclusion on the appropriateness of such behaviors. In addition, Christian highlights Daniel Gilbert’s propositions on the extent to which human beings are animals. From this work, he makes an analogy of the extent to which human beings have become machines. By drawing such analogies, the author allows the reader to understand the book’s context in a better way as the concepts used is not new.
In addition, the book is divided into twelve distinct chapters, with each section highlighting different ideas. In the introduction, the author outlines the genesis of his choice of the book’s title by discussing the origin of the term, ‘the most human.’ Therefore, the introductory chapter gives the reader a strong base of understanding, which prepares one to what to expect throughout the book.
In the concluding chapter, the author uses the same title used in the introduction, that is ‘the most human,’ as a recap of the ideas explored throughout the text. At the end of the book, Christian gives extensive notes to expound issues that might be unclear to the reader. The notes are divided and labeled clearly under every chapter for easy and quick reference. Therefore, the book is readable and given its suggestive nature, and critical thinkers will find it interesting as it gives room for people to think logically on different issues affecting the essence of ‘humanity’ via the lenses of artificial intelligence.
Despite the strengths as highlighted in the preceding sections, this book has several weaknesses. As mentioned before, Brian Christian has studied poetry, philosophy, and computer science. This aspect helps in compressing a wide range of information into a single volume. However, in the last third of the book, the author resorts to showing how he knows almost everything in the academic world.
He theorizes unneeded anecdotes, which add no value to the text. He should have dedicated this section to outlining the bigger picture of the issues at hand instead of burdening the readers with unnecessary information. For instance, in chapter 10, the author talks of what he calls, High Surprisal. Even though this section mentions the artificial intelligence aspect, the author resorts to jargon, and this aspect is bound to confuse the reader.
In conclusion, the book The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence teaches us about Being Alive, is a masterpiece work, which explores how computers have redefined the concept of ‘human’ in the contemporary world where the technological revolution has taken center stage. The author uses a wide array of information to explain his thesis. In addition, Christian adopts a narrative style of writing with his narration taking the backstage, thus allowing ideas to come out clearly. The book has its strengths and weaknesses, as discussed in this paper.