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12 Bytes

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Member Reviews

Amazing idea, poorly executed.

I am such a fan of Jeanette Winterson - particularly how she explores questions of gender, time, and the body through a postmodern lens in her fiction. So, when I discovered that she had written a nonfiction book on technology and AI - I jumped at the chance to read her book.

What she gets right: The approach Winterson takes to questions of technology by drawing from a feminist perspective is exactly the kind of socio-critical analysis we need within the space today. Her research is extensive but not quite thorough (more on this in cons) and her characteristic writing style is brilliant.

What doesn't work at all: The research has significant gaps which prevents her feminist analysis from being truly intersectional. I would say she would benefit from reading on the history of race and technology, the decolonial perspectives on technological innovation as well as marxist analyses of the digital age to truly round out her perspectives. Secondly, her rhetoric is based entirely on structure and juxtaposing different historical stories to create contrast. This approach works perfectly in fiction but in an essay format, I would expect this evidence to be sandwiched between original analyses and that simply did not happen. So the book feels like a well-curated book on the history of technology with little to know original insights. 

Overall, I would say, if you enjoy Winterson's previous work for her writing style, her smooth sentences and her use of verbs, you can find good examples of that here. For the deep insight into technology, I would recommend a writer like Ruha Benjamin instead.
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This book is a fever dream. Poorly organised, rambling, full of statements that may be facts or may be presumptions.  Each essay moves swiftly through 10s or hundreds of concept and years with an organising principle that is not always evident. The odd sentence that is clearly true but illogical in context. This could be written by an undergraduate Arts student who left writing an essay to the last minute, and drank a lot of coffee to get it done. Winterson's sin, in my opinion, isn't that these essays are barely coherent, it's that tehy are not that interesting.
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Jeanette Winterson has written 12 essays on artificial intelligence with a feminist perspective.
Wintersons has an infectious wonder about how things in life are connected. She has been interested in the challenges and benefits of computer intelligence for a long time. In 12 bytes, Winterson asks questions about our humanity, about love and art. About how we will live - and what will be changed with more artificial intelligence in our lives. We are facing challenging choices. Will there be jobs left? Will everyone be cared for by robots as we get older? Winterson is optimistic. She claims that cooperation is better than competition between humans and machines.

The book is provocative and frightening. Fascinating. And humorous. Winterson searches history, uses literature and myths to explain. Engages in dialogue with gender and race politics. To understand the future, we must learn about the past. So she starts with Mary Shelley and Ada Lovelace. She writes about the women who built the first computers and who have not received credit for the work they did.
It is interesting to read the thoughts on the topic by an author. The essays are based on Winterson's wonders and emotions. This is not a scientific fact book. 12 bytes is a book for those who are not computer nerds (as I wish I was), but for those of us who are curious about artificial intelligence. I understand more after reading the book. The author hopes that soon machines will be programmed by other than just white men. Machines themselves do not have race or gender.
In the book, Winterson is writing about sex dolls. Will it happen that we no longer care about human and non-human interactions? Will the ability to love be worth more than intelligence? What are the ethical implications? are questions I ponder. It is a long time until the machines have social and emotional intelligence in line with humans. But it's smart to learn more. Reflect on your own thoughts on the topic.

During my reading, I wanted the book to be tidier and less talkative. There are too many digressions. But I became more interested in the theme and got inspired to write myself. I fell into the big internet hole to learn about Ada Lovlace. To me, she's just been Byron's daughter. I have not thought of her as the pioneer she was in this field. So I've cleared up my feminist perspective a bit too.
12 bytes is interesting and initiates conversations about important topics. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own
My native language is not english
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Winterson's feminist analysis of artificial intelligence - its history and its future - is an excellent example of how you use the humanities to better scientific practice and policy. A fascinating read that takes you from Ada Lovelace to augmented reality, sex robots to selfhood.
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A unique collection highlighting the impact of technology on humanity. While not all of the essays resonated with me, some of them were quite funny, observant, and thought provoking. 

Thank you to Grove Press and Netgalley for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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12 essays about technology (looking at the history and development and extrapolating potential futures) with a feminist bent. Some interesting tidbits to be sure, but overall, I found it lackluster.
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2.5 rounded down

Having throughly enjoyed Winterson's previous books (Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson: Note, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? and Frankissstein: A Love Story) I was curious when I heard she was writing a non fiction book on technology. 

I guess I shouldn't have let my curiosity get the better of me as I found this to be pretty disappointing. The book contains 12 essays which read almost as blog posts on Winterson's musings on AI and technology as a whole and how it impacts our lives in the 21st century. 

These essays are ambitious in scope, but I thought the execution often left something to be desired. I was unsure what the book was trying to be - to be brutally honest, if I wanted incisive views on the future of AI and how it will impact upon our lives in the future then I'd read a book written by an expert on it. 

Not bad by any means, but 12 Bytes missed the mark for this reader.
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Book Review for 12 Bytes

Full feature for this title will be posted at: @cattleboobooks on Instagram!
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Jeanette Winterson is an icon, i'm honored to get the opportunity to read this novel before it comes out! I love short stories, and this was no exception. The twist of science fiction or artificial intelligence on a love story was fascinating, and I thought the way there were different topics woven into the stories were done spectacularly. I AM HERE FOR THE GENDER CONVERSATIONS WITH NON HUMAN HELPERS. Sign me up. Let's discuss. Loved these stories. Winterson can do no wrong.
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Another fascinating entry from an insightful voice. There is much to enjoy in this essay collection.
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