Brian Christian

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Brian Christian
Christian in 2019
Christian in 2019
Born1984 (age 38–39)
Wilmington, Delaware, US
Alma materBrown University (AB)
University of Washington (MFA)
Notable worksThe Most Human Human (2011)
Algorithms to Live By (2016)
The Alignment Problem (2020)

Brian Christian (born 1984 in Wilmington, Delaware) is an American non-fiction author, poet, programmer and researcher,[1][2] best known for a bestselling series of books about the human implications of computer science, including The Most Human Human (2011),[3] Algorithms to Live By (2016),[4] and The Alignment Problem (2020).[5]

Christian competed as a "confederate" in the 2009 Loebner Prize competition,[1] attempting to seem "more human" than the humans taking the test, and succeeded.[6][7] The book he wrote about the experience, The Most Human Human, became a Wall Street Journal best-seller,[8] a New York Times editors' choice,[9] and a New Yorker favorite book of the year.[10] He was interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show on March 8, 2011.[11]

In 2010, Christian collaborated with film director Michael Langan on a short film adaptation of Christian's poem "Heliotropes,"[12] which was published in the final issue of Wholphin magazine.

In 2016, Christian collaborated with cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths on the book Algorithms to Live By, which became the #1 bestselling nonfiction book on Audible[13] and was named an Amazon best science book of the year[14] and an MIT Technology Review best book of the year.[15]

His awards and honors include publication in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and fellowships at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Yaddo, and MacDowell. Beginning in 2012, Christian has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2016 Christian was named a Laureate of the San Francisco Public Library.[16]

In 2020, Christian published his third book of nonfiction, The Alignment Problem, which looks at the rise of the ethics and safety movement in machine learning through historical research and the stories of approximately 100 researchers. The Alignment Problem was named a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best science and technology book of the year.[17] For his work on The Alignment Problem, Christian received the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Award for Excellence in Science Communication, given by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in partnership with Schmidt Futures.[18]

Early life and education[edit]

Christian is a native of Little Silver, New Jersey.[19] He attended high school at High Technology High School in Lincroft, NJ.[20]

Christian holds a degree from Brown University in computer science and philosophy, and an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington.[3]


In 2014, Vanity Fair magazine reported that The Most Human Human was the "night-table reading" of Elon Musk.[21]

Reading The Most Human Human inspired the playwright Jordan Harrison to write the play Marjorie Prime.[22] The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize[23] and was released as a feature film in 2017.

The Most Human Human also inspired filmmaker Tommy Pallotta's 2018 documentary More Human Than Human, in which Christian appears.[24]

In 2018, Algorithms to Live By was featured as an answer on the game show Jeopardy!.[25]

In 2021, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in Fast Company that The Alignment Problem was one of the "5 books that inspired" him that year.[26]


  • The Most Human Human, 2011, Doubleday, ISBN 978-0307476708
  • Algorithms to Live By, 2016, Henry Holt, ISBN 978-1250118363
  • The Alignment Problem, 2020, Norton, ISBN 978-0393635829


  1. ^ a b "Mind vs. Machine". The Atlantic. 2011-02-09. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  2. ^ Official website of Brian Christian
  3. ^ a b Christian, Brian (2011). The Most Human Human. New York, N.Y: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-53306-5.
  4. ^ Christian, Brian; Griffiths, Tom (2016). Algorithms to Live By. New York, N.Y: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-1250118363.
  5. ^ Christian, Brian (2020). The Alignment Problem. New York, N.Y: W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0393868333.
  6. ^ "AGNI Online: Author Brian Christian". Archived from the original on 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  7. ^ Christian, Brian (30 April 2011). "Computer says: um, er... | Computers v humans | Technology | The Guardian". London.
  8. ^ "WSJ Best-Selling Books, Week Ended April 3 - WSJ". Wall Street Journal. 2011-04-09. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  9. ^ "Editor's Choice - The New York Times". The New York Times. 2011-03-25. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  10. ^ "A Year's Reading | The New Yorker". The New Yorker. 2011-12-12. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  11. ^ "Brian Christian - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 03/08/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central". 2011-03-08. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  12. ^ "Official Website of Heliotropes". Langan Films. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
  13. ^ "Best-Selling Audio Books at". 2016-10-05. Archived from the original on 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  14. ^ " Science - Best Books of 2016: Books". Amazon. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  15. ^ "Best Books of 2016 | MIT Technology Review". 2016-12-23. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  16. ^ "Friends of the San Francisco Public Library : Events : LIBRARY LAUREATES : Participating Authors". Archived from the original on 2018-01-05. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  17. ^ "Here are the finalists for the 2020 L.A. Times Book Prizes - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. 2021-03-02. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  18. ^ "Winners - Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication - National Academies". National Academies. 2022-10-12. Retrieved 2022-10-21.
  19. ^ Van Develde, Elaine. "A bicycle trip that leads to someone else’s home" Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine, Atlanticville, January 9, 2004. Accessed April 3, 2011.
  20. ^ Bradshaw, Jennifer (2011-04-27). "High Technology alum shares new book". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  21. ^ "Night-Table Reading - Vanity Fair - March 2014". Retrieved 2020-07-22.
  22. ^ "Jordan Harrison Embraces Technology in 'Marjorie Prime'". 7 August 2014. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
  23. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes: Finalist: Marjorie Prime, by Jordan Harrison". Retrieved 2018-09-25.
  24. ^ "SXSW Review: 'More Human Than Human' Offers a Brief, Exciting Look at Media Robotics and AI". 11 March 2018. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  25. ^ Jeopardy!, Season 2018, Episode 116, original air date June 11, 2018. See
  26. ^ "5 books that inspired Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2021". 15 November 2021. Retrieved 2021-11-15.

External links[edit]