Winterson is a wonderful writer, and these essays are so thought-provoking, inquisitive and well-researched that one wonders if it is too academic a tome to enjoy as a regular reader. I am NOT a tech reader, I don’t like Kindles and I do enjoy my dystopia. But when it comes to the science behind the tech, I tend to put up my hands and wave a white flag. Still, I found 12 Bytes to be a fun and informative read. Winterson writes in a straightforward...conversational tone that kept me so engaged that I read the book straight through and then read it again. That’s not something I’m used to doing, but dear reader, I dare you not to do the same. There is hope in Winterson’s book, a humanity as I mentioned that cuts a clear path through all the William Gibson-esque possibilities she discusses. I, for one, am hoping that she has the 411 on the future, and it is one that will command cooperation between humans and AI. We’re happy to have them as long as we can figure out that there is room for all of us on this planet—and that tech can help us save this place and undo some of man’s weightiest crimes without adding more to the mix.
... an unusual and entertaining read, the book is inflected with the same delightful, dry humour as the rest of her work. In each essay, Winterson holds AI up to the light, contemplating it from different angles. One of the most thought-provoking (and smile-inducing) of the resulting refractions is her treatment of spirituality ... Winterson...is refreshingly measured and optimistic ... such a welcome break from the scaremongering that accompanies non-specialist surveys of AI that it is easy to get swept away by the author’s impassioned storytelling ... With its imaginative, insightful and wide-ranging essays, 12 Bytes will undoubtedly prompt readers to begin their own circlings around AI.
There is a strong feminist slant here ... The best of these essays are the most personal, the ones in which Winterson’s life allows her to spot connections that others might miss ... All of this is thought-provoking and necessary—and sometimes very funny—but there’s no scenario here that someone hasn’t already imagined; no Shelleyan leap ... Then again, Winterson might be on to something when she suggests that in a future defined by connectivity and hybridity, love will be more meaningful than intelligence. Could love actually be intelligence, in a disembodied world? Maybe that’s romantic flim-flam. Maybe it’s a pointless question since it leads to another: what is love? But it has a certain appeal—not least because it could launch us on a new imaginative journey, and because in imagining something, we make it possible.