Photograph: Gian Paul Lozza
What is wrong with the way we think about robots?
So often we subconsciously compare robots to humans and AI to human intelligence. The comparison limits our imagination. Focused on trying to recreate ourselves, we’re not thinking creatively about how to use robots to help humans flourish.
Why is an animal analogy better?
We have domesticated animals because they are useful to us – oxen to plough our fields, pigeon delivery systems. Animals and robots aren’t the same, but the analogy moves us away from the persistent robot-human one. It opens our mind to other possibilities – that robots can be our partners – and lets us see some of the choices we have in shaping how we use the technology.
But companies are trying to develop robots to take humans out of the equation – driverless robot cars, package delivery by drone. Doesn’t an animal analogy conceal what, in fact, is a significant threat?
There is a threat to people’s jobs. But that threat is not the robots – it is company decisions that are driven by a broader economic and political system of corporate capitalism. The animal analogy helps illustrate that we have some options.