The New Breed | Kate Darling

Summary of: The New Breed: What Our History with Animals Reveals about Our Future with Robots
By: Kate Darling


Welcome to the fascinating world of ‘The New Breed: What Our History with Animals Reveals about Our Future with Robots’, where author Kate Darling takes you through the transformational power of robotics and their impact on our lives. The book dispels the misguided but persistent belief that robots and AI will lead to mass unemployment and a widespread existential crisis. Instead, it sheds light on the myriad ways in which robots will improve our lives by drawing parallels to the roles animals have played throughout human history. As you immerse yourself in this enlightening summary, you’ll realize that robots aren’t here to replace us, but to assist, complement, and enrich our lives, much like our animal companions have done for centuries.

Robots of the Future

Robots are unlikely to replace human beings in the near future. Rather, they are bound to become a different kind of autonomous being that will act as tools that can assist us and substantially improve our lives. Hence, we must perceive robots as more animal-like than human-like. In this sense, robots have more potential to aid us than to threaten our jobs. We can learn more about our relationships with robots by reflecting on our interactions with animals and how they have transformed agriculture, long-distance transportation, hunting, and companionship.

Working alongside programmed autonomous assistants

The fear of technology taking human jobs goes way back. However, history shows that technological advancements have invariably improved economies and created more jobs. When it comes to animals, though, technology has entirely replaced some workers. The key message in this summary is that people have worked alongside programmed autonomous assistants, who are trained for singular purposes, similar to how animals were trained. In many cases, humans’ jobs have become more efficient and safe, thanks to technology. There’s no magic bullet that’ll remove humans from challenging mining operations soon, as current robots and AI aren’t suited for handling the unexpected. However, by continuing to develop technology solely for narrow-focused tasks, just like we’ve trained animals, we can use technological advancements for even greater efficiency.

Robots and Animal Law

Some supermarkets in the US are already using robot employees that alert human staff if there’s a spill or fallen items that need picking up; however, these robots can’t clean anything themselves, leading to “fauxtomation” issues. This leads to the question, should robots be designed to act like humans when they make decisions and are held accountable? The author suggests looking to animal law to create better designs and laws around robots. For example, just as different animals have different laws and regulations, future robots may also have varying degrees of regulations based on their level of threat to the public.

Robotic companionship for a better wellbeing

Humans are turning to robots to emulate the benefits of animal companionship without the challenges that come with them. A comforting presence, low cortisol levels, improved immune system, reduced depression, and chronic pain are just a few of the benefits offered by animal companionship. However, robots such as PARO are emerging as an effective tool when animals aren’t practical. PARO is built like a baby seal and has been found helpful, especially in calming dementia patients when they’re agitated.

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