Photograph of Brian Christian, taken by photographer Eileen Meny
Photo Credit: Eileen Meny

Brian Christian is an acclaimed author and researcher whose work explores the human implications of computer science. He is known for his bestselling series of books:

The Most Human Human (2011) uses his experience as a human “confederate” in the Turing test to examine what chatbots reveal about the nature of language and communication. It was named a Wall Street Journal bestseller, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and a New Yorker favorite book of the year.

Algorithms to Live By (2016), co-authored with Tom Griffiths, applies computational principles to everyday human decision making, painting a counterintuitively human picture of rationality. It was named a #1 Audible bestseller, Amazon best science book of the year, and MIT Technology Review best book of the year.

The Alignment Problem (2020) is a nuanced investigation of the ethics and safety challenges confronting the field of AI, and a portrait of the community of researchers working to address them. Nature called it “Meticulously researched and superbly written,” and The New York Times called it “The best book on the key technical and moral questions of AI.” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella named it one of the books that most inspired him. The Alignment Problem was a Finalist for Los Angeles Times Best Science & Technology Book of the Year and won the Excellence in Science Communication Award from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

As a writer, Christian’s work has been translated into nineteen languages, and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The Paris Review. His writing has won several literary awards, including fellowships at Bread Loaf, Yaddo, and MacDowell, publication in Best American Science & Nature Writing, and an award from the Academy of American Poets.

As a researcher, Christian’s computational cognitive science research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals like Cognitive Science, and he is a recipient of the Clarendon Scholarship, the University of Oxford’s most competitive research scholarship. He is affiliated with the AI Policy and Governance Working Group at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Center for Human-Compatible AI and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society at UC Berkeley, and the Human Information Processing Lab at the University of Oxford.

As a software developer, Christian served for nine years as Director of Technology for the innovative literary publisher McSweeney’s, where he led a small team responsible for the company’s technical stack. He has contributed to a number of open-source projects in the JavaScript and Ruby ecosystems, including the widely used data visualization library NVD3 and high-profile Ruby projects such as Bundler and Ruby on Rails.

As a speaker and public intellectual, Christian has been a featured guest on The Daily Show, The Ezra Klein Show, and Radiolab, and has lectured at Google, Meta, Microsoft, Yale, the Santa Fe Institute, and the London School of Economics. He has advised business executives as well as Cabinet Members, Parliamentarians, and administrators in six countries about matters ranging from decision making to AI.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Christian studied computer science and philosophy at Brown University, poetry at the University of Washington, and psychology and computational neuroscience at the University of Oxford.

He lives in San Francisco and the UK.

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