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  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781787332478
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $32.99

12 Bytes

How artificial intelligence will change the way we live and love


Twelve bytes. Twelve eye-opening, mind-expanding, funny and provocative essays on the implications of artificial intelligence for the way we live and the way we love - from Sunday Times-bestselling author Jeanette Winterson.

An original, and entertaining new book from Jeanette Winterson, drawing on her years of thinking about and reading about Artificial Intelligence in its bewildering manifestations. She looks to history, religion, myth, literature, the politics of race and gender, and of course, computing science, to help us understand the radical changes to the way we live and love that are happening now.

When we create non-biological life-forms, will we do so in our image? Or will we accept the once-in-a-species opportunity to remake ourselves in their image?

What do love, caring, sex, and attachment look like when humans form connections with non-human helpers teachers, sex-workers, and companions? And what will happen to our deep-rooted assumptions about gender?

Will the physical body that is our home soon be enhanced by biological and neural implants, keeping us fitter, younger, and connected? Is it time to join Elon Musk and leave Planet Earth?

With wit, compassion and curiosity, Winterson tackles AI's most interesting talking points, from the algorithms that data-dossier your whole life, to the weirdness of backing up your brain.

  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781787332478
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson CBE was born in Manchester. Adopted by Pentecostal parents she was raised to be a missionary. This did and didn’t work out.

Discovering early the power of books she left home at 16 to live in a Mini and get on with her education. After graduating from Oxford University she worked for a while in the theatre and published her first novel at 25. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is based on her own upbringing but using herself as a fictional character. She scripted the novel into a BAFTA-winning BBC drama. 27 years later she re-visited that material in the bestselling memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? She has written 10 novels for adults, as well as children’s books, non-fiction and screenplays. She is Professor of New Writing at the University of Manchester. She lives in the Cotswolds in a wood and in Spitalfields, London.

She believes that art is for everyone and it is her mission to prove it.

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Praise for 12 Bytes

Thought provoking and necessary


Briskly and breezily, it [12 Bytes] joins the dots in a neglected narrative of female scientists, visionaries and code-breakers

Claire Armitstead, Observer

12 punchy, fact-laden and witty essays... Her writing engulfs you in lucid, fairytale-like realities that take you on gender-bending and time-warped explorations of religion, love, sex, and sexual identity.

Charlotte Cripps, Independent

An unusual and entertaining read...[12 Bytes] is inflected with the same delightful, dry humour as the rest of her work... With its imaginative, insightful and wide-ranging essays, 12 Bytes will undoubtedly prompt readers to begin their own circlings around AI.

Laura Grace Simpkins, New Scientist

Aspects of this AI future are frightening...[and] for any non-scientist wanting to understand the challenges and possibilities of this brave new world, I can't think of a more engaging place to start.

Stephanie Merritt, Observer

Quite brilliant.


This is, among other things, a very funny book... we are hardly short of dystopias, fictional and otherwise. Winterson's approach is much richer and more fun: a kind of comparative mythology, where the hype and ideology of cutting-edge tech is read through the lens of far older stories.

Steven Poole, Spectator

[Winterson's] essays...are agile, fascinating, richly varied and beautifully idiosyncratic.

Joanna Kavenna, Literary Review

Winterson... is always passionate and provocative.

Johanna Thomas-Corr, New Statesman

Refreshingly optimistic.

Steven Poole, Guardian

Lively, frequently laugh-aloud funny...the 12 essays use a combination of history, literature, religion, science fiction and electronics to extend our mental horizons.

Christina Hardyment, The Times, *Audiobooks of the Year*

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