The New Breed Book Summary - The New Breed Book explained in key points

The New Breed summary

Kate Darling

What Our History with Animals Reveals about Our Future with Robots

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What is The New Breed about?

The New Breed (2021) offers new insights into the ongoing debate surrounding robots and artificial intelligence. Instead of looking at robots as a human replacement or threat, the author sees a more accurate comparison in the long relationship we’ve had with autonomous animals, which have helped us feel better and get work done.

About the Author

Kate Darling works as a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. With a focus on ethics, law, and economics, she’s interested in how technology converges with society and the challenges lawmakers and the public will face in the future.

Table of Contents
    Key idea 1 of 6

    Future robots are likely to be closer to animals and pets than humans.

    Are robots coming for our jobs? Is artificial intelligence one of humanity’s greatest threats? Certainly, there’s no shortage of panicked headlines designed to make us fret over this possibility. But this catastrophic reaction has a lot to do with our persistence in seeing robots as being strictly analogous to human beings.

    There are good reasons why we tend to think this way, but in the end, it’s both a limited perspective on the benefits robotics can provide, and misleading as to what we should be concerned about. Make no mistake: there will be more robots in the future, but who says they’re going to look or act like humans?

    The key message here is: Future robots are likely to be closer to animals and pets than humans.

    Many of us grew up with science-fiction stories involving robots. More often than not, those robots had two arms and two legs, they talked like humans, and their superior strength and intelligence made them seem like a threat to humanity. So, in a way, we’ve been programmed to think they might take our jobs – whether as truck drivers, office workers, or supermarket clerks.

    But so far, there’s little to suggest that the threat is so imminent. AI is nowhere near the level of the human mind. In fact, a human toddler is better at performing simple tasks such as identifying a glass of water or momentarily stopping a task to pick up something that fell on the floor.

    Increased computer power is unlikely to resolve this issue. The human mind is simply too complex – too capable of contextualizing new information, switching tasks, and making appropriate decisions. But AI can act like a different kind of autonomous being. It can learn, it can react – albeit in ways that are different from humans, but perhaps not so different from animals.

    Humans have always found ways to improve their lives through animal relationships. Oxen made it possible to transform agriculture on a mass scale. Horses and camels made long-distance transportation feasible. Dogs helped us hunt for food and became such beloved companions that we consider them family members.

    These are the kinds of things that robots can already do, or are very close to doing. Instead of replacing human beings, they’re proving to be tools that can assist us and perhaps even improve our well-being. In the following blinks, we’ll look at how our relationships with animals can provide more insight into how we can integrate robots into our lives in the years ahead.

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    Who should read The New Breed

    • Popular science enthusiasts
    • Panicking futurists
    • Technophobes

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