Category Archives: News
Out in bookstores now is The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012, and I’m pleased to report that editors Dan Ariely and Tim Folger have included an essay of mine in the anthology. There’s provocative writing throughout, and I encourage any and all interested readers to have a look.
I’m thrilled to announce that The Most Human Human is out in paperback this week! With a fine new cover, a trimmer figure, and at half the price, the new edition is a thing of beauty.
I’m happy to report that The Most Human Human made a number of “best of 2011″ lists in December and January, including: The Spectator, The Boston Globe, Amazon, Goodreads, The National Post (Toronto), Booklist, The Leonard Lopate Show, and The New Yorker.
It’s been a great punctuation mark on 2011, and I’m really looking forward to things to come in 2012.
I’ll be speaking at the excellent Litquake festival in San Francisco at two different events on Sunday, October 9—
The first event is a panel discussion at 2pm – “Thinking, Believing, Living: The Human as Being,” with Patricia V. Davis, Pamela Laird, Allen Klein, Lewis Richmond, and Marcus Wohlsen, Variety Preview Room Theatre, 582 Market Street, First Floor.
Then at 7pm is a dialogue with Thomas Goetz of Wired – “Being Human: Brian Christian in Conversation with Thomas Goetz,” Delancey Street Screening Room, 600 Embarcadero.
Bay Area folks: hope to see you there!
This week, a short film collaboration I did with the incredible director Michael Langan went up online. The film is called “Heliotropes,” and it’s based on a poem of mine by the same name which you can read at Ink Node (and was originally published in Ninth Letter).
The film premiered earlier this year at the South By Southwest festival, and has had a number of festival showings, but this is the first time it’s been made available online and it’s been a great first week, with Gizmodo and Laughing Squid offering their praise, and The Atlantic running an interview with Michael.
If you’re hungry for more of Michael’s films, I might recommend starting with “Doxology.”
I’ve had the great pleasure of appearing on both of the first two episodes of this season of Radiolab, one of my favorite shows on the radio. The first episode of the new season is called “Talking with Machines,” and it’s a look into a number of different stories that relate to humans’ relationships with technology, and what our tendency to make emotional investments in technology says about us.
The first segment of the “Talking to Machines” episode features the story of the Turing test and the Loebner Prize. I’m joined by a terrific group: Loebner Prize co-founder Robert Epstein tells MHH‘s shocking “Ivana” story from the first-person, MIT’s Sherry Turkle tells the story of ELIZA, and Cleverbot programmer Rollo Carpenter explains a bit about his creation. My own conversation with Jad and Robert covers everything from programming as introspection, to intimacy as surprise, and in the context of my participation as a confederate – “representing all humans:” – Robert even announces my name over the song “Eye of the Tiger,” which I confess is actually something I’ve always hoped would happen at some point in my life.
This week, in the new “Games” episode, Radiolab explores the scientific, philosophical, and emotional properties of games, including a segment which features myself and computer chess pioneer Frederic Friedel talking about one of The Most Human Human’s critical concepts: the importance of getting “out of book.” It’s one of the central ideas of MHH, and it’s fascinating to hear the Radiolab spin on it. Both episodes are not to be missed.
It’s been a great first week in the UK for MHH. My talk at the RSA was a real thrill, and the questions were fascinating. Likewise for the London School of Economics and Bristol Festival of Ideas talks (the latter with philosopher and WSJ reviewer Julian Baggini, whom it was a pleasure to meet in person). It’s been such a great experience meeting and talking with everyone in England, and seeing how sharp and engaged everyone’s been.
I was excited to contribute pieces to this week’s issues of The Guardian weekend supplement, where I talked about my experience as a Loebner Prize confederate, and Wired’s “Ideas Bank,” where I talk about the role of timing in conversation and the notion that in dialogue the “when” is often at least as complex as the “what.”
On the press front, there have been some great mentions in The Times (“Remarkable . . . a philosophical joyride”), The Economist, Time Out London, London Metro, and New Statesman (“lively and thought-stirring . . . an invaluable sourcebook on computing in modern-day life”).
Thanks to all the great folks at Viking and Penguin UK helping to make MHH feel so welcome in the United Kingdom.
I’ll be in England all week for the launch, speaking at the London School of Economics, the RSA, and the Bristol Festival of Ideas, as well as doing a few radio spots with the BBC and Australian and Irish radio. Really looking forward to it.
The Most Human Human has been a best selling science hardcover for three weeks running on the Wall Street Journal’s best seller list, peaking so far at the #3 spot. It’s amazing to see MHH listed next to folks like Steven Hawking, who hooked me on the enchantment of science as a child with his Brief History of Time. Wonderful to be in such good company!
For more: Wall Street Journal Best Seller List