The New Breed: What Our History with Animals Reveals About Our Future with Robots

Holt. Apr. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781250296108. $29.99. SCI
Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics create speculation about what our future relationships with artificial intelligence and robots will be like. We most often compare robots to humans, but Darling (MIT Media Lab) suggests that a more apt, less restrictive analogy would be to compare them to animals, who experience the world differently from humans (like robots do). There are differences: animals will never learn to vacuum or build cars, but they also can learn to manage the unexpected more easily than a machine; regardless, we humans tend to anthropomorphize both animals and robots. Darling’s book is divided into three sections. The first discusses robots as “a supplement to our own abilities,” improving workplace safety for humans by doing jobs that are dirty, dull and/or dangerous, and collaborating with humans, as animals have for millennia. The second section covers robots and animals as companions; the third examines animal and robot rights. Darling includes a thorough discussion of the law and ethics surrounding robotics and AI. Images of robots, from pop culture and scientific history, are featured throughout.
VERDICT Thought-provoking popular science that will be of interest to anyone curious about the past, present, or future of robot–human interaction.
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