Interview with Christian Mann, Author of Technically Human

29 May 2024

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Technically Human?

I am a Software Engineer that, like pretty much everyone else, has been closely following the news around the rise of AI with a mix of fear and uncertainty in regards to my career, but also society as a whole. Last year, I decided to channel these thoughts into my first novel, where an artificially intelligent robot would play a pivotal role. Regardless of how these advancements will impact our daily lives, I wanted to explore a scenario in the very near future where the first sentient robot walks among us and how this could redefine what being human actually means. After all, if that android looks, behaves and thinks exactly like us, where do you draw the line on what a human is? Biology? Origin? Free will? Subsequently, a life changing trip of mine to Japan also had a big impact on this novel. Given Japan’s status as a leader in technological innovation until a few decades ago, I thought it would be thrilling to include several elements of its culture and imagine a second economic miracle sparked by a Japanese company creating the first sentient AI robot.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Technically Human, what would they be?

For Julia, the android, “Human” by The Human League. For Charlie, the engineer, “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” by The Smiths.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I love thrillers, fictional or historical, some fantasy, some science fiction.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian and Rising Sun by Michael Crichton. Debating on whether to re-read Shogun by James Clavell, as I really enjoyed the new TV show.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

I really enjoyed writing the Japan arc, especially the part where the characters first arrive in the country. I was in awe when I first landed in Tokyo a few months ago, so I tried to convey the same sense of wonder and curiosity in the story.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Not sure if it’s quirky or even healthy, but I tend to get an epiphany whenever I almost fall asleep or wake up randomly at night. So it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to get up at 3 in the morning, write a few lines on my computer, and then try to go back to sleep afterwards.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

The future of AI is uncertain. Lots of jobs are in danger of being replaced by a computer or a robot. If this makes you anxious, we share the same feeling. However, we don’t know how many of these AI advancements will live up to its hype, or face limits that our current technology and understanding cannot solve for the time being. Plenty of these AI companies will also turn out to be scams. So, facing this uncertainty, I hope you can find joy in your day to day, pick whatever field of work makes you happy and be reminded that your value is not measured by your job, but by who you are as a person.


Christian Mann is the author of the new book Technically Human

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