Scene from Spielberg's movie AI

How we treat animals might show us how we will treat robots

Understanding the way other species see and interact with the world could change not only our relationship with non-human animals, but the way we interact with machines

Lidia Zuin
6 min readApr 4, 2023

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Last week, I published an essay in which I addressed how recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) could help us read brain scans and then “translate” them into what the patient was seeing during the exam. Ultimately, this same technology could help us understand how other species see the world — both in the literal sense and how they understand and interact with it. What if these same technologies could also help us think about how we interact with machines?

Nick Bostrom is one of the authors that make this correlation between animal ethics and AI ethics. Last year, he signed with Carl Shulman the document Propositions Concerning Digital Minds and Society, in which he suggests that, currently, we already have AI systems that have developed to a level of sensation, cognition, and morality that is similar to small animals. Though we are speaking of non-biological systems and, therefore, not alive as we understand it, this is still a good opportunity to make us go beyond the common sense of anthropocentrism.

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Lidia Zuin

Brazilian journalist, MA in Semiotics and PhD in Visual Arts. Researcher and essayist. Technical and science fiction writer.