2015 May

The Second Intelligent Species: How Humans Will Become as Irrelevant as Cockroaches | KurzweilAI


Marshall Brain


BYG Publishing, Inc. (4/7/2015)

Right now, as far as we can tell, there is exactly one intelligent species in the universe and it is us: human beings. We currently see no evidence of any kind indicating that extraterrestrials exist outside of our solar system.

But at this moment, millions of engineers, scientists, corporations, universities and entrepreneurs are racing to create the second intelligent species right here on planet earth. And we can see the second intelligent species coming from all directions in the form of self-driving cars, automated call centers, chess-playing and Jeopardy-playing computers that beat all human players, airport kiosks, restaurant tablet systems, etc.

The frightening thing is that these robots will soon be eliminating human jobs in startling numbers. The first wave of unemployed workers is likely to be a million truck drivers who are replaced by self-driving trucks. Pilots will be eliminated soon as well. Then, as new computer vision systems come online, we will see tens of millions of workers in retail stores, fast food restaurants and construction sites replaced by robots. Unless we take steps now to change the economy, we will soon have tens of millions of workers who are unemployed and seeking welfare because they will have no other choice.

Marshall Brain’s new book “The Second Intelligent Species: How Humans Will Become as Irrelevant as Cockroaches” explores how the future will unfold as the second intelligent species emerges.

The book answers questions like:

– How will new computer vision systems affect the job market?

– How many people will become unemployed by the second intelligent species?

– What will happen to millions of newly unemployed workers?

– How can modern society and modern economies cope with run-away unemployment caused by robots?

– What will happen when the first sentient, conscious computer appears?

– What moral and ethical principles will guide the second intelligent species?

– Why do we see no extraterrestrials in our universe?

“The Second Intelligent Species” offers a unique and fascinating look at the future of the human race, and the choices we will need to make to avoid massive unemployment and poverty worldwide as intelligent machines start eliminating millions of jobs.

—BYG Publishing, Inc.


The paradigm has already shifted!

Recognition will take more time but not reverse the trend or shift.



23 replies on “The Second Intelligent Species: How Humans Will Become as Irrelevant as Cockroaches | KurzweilAI”

robots legally belong to somebody until they become self propelled beings. this trend will alter the assumptions on which our legal systems are built, thus todays property rights will be questioned and their public protection denied – this too will be an interesting cultural shift on another systemic level.


Speaking of robots, I’ve been reading this manuscript about leadership schemas in the old TV show, Transformers. Why? Because I was curious. And my son has been watching this series lately. He likes Optimus Prime. Duh.

It would be understandable if leadership scholars reflexively argued that children’s cartoon shows are not a worthy topic for the study of leadership and provide little insight into the modern workplace. We would disagree. While certainly not as epic or influential as foundation narratives of western literature such as the Iliad, the Transformers continue in that same tradition of using fantasy-based storytelling. The Transformers were, and remain to this day, a major cultural force worldwide as it continues to shape the minds and values of children through reruns, newly launched cartoon series, and the movie franchises.

“robots legally belong to somebody until they become self propelled beings”

Automobiles are self propelled. That’s the etymology of the word. And they can belong to somebody.

The only sense I can make of the “self-propelled” condition is that it means “robots legally belong to somebody until they can make choices”
It’s beyond me how that could happen (but lots is beyond me) and even with this understanding, the law would not allow farm animals or pets to be owned by humans.


They don’t have to be able to do much to out choice our hard wired motives;)


“Automobiles are self propelled. That’s the etymology of the word. And they can belong to somebody.”

GM Says That While You May Own Your Car, It Owns The Software In It, Thanks To Copyright
from the copyright-is-broken dept
Last week, we noted that Senator Ron Wyden and Rep. Jared Polis had introduced an important bill to fix a part of the DMCA’s broken anti-circumvention laws found in Section 1201 of the DMCA. For whatever reason, some people still have trouble understanding why the law is so broken. So here’s a story that hopefully makes the point clearly. Thanks to DMCA 1201, John Deere claims it still owns the tractor you thought you bought from it. Instead, John Deere claims you’re really just licensing that tractor:

I agree we are largely hard wired. I didn’t say we have a lot of choice. But we currently have some. And no robot currently has any.


I would challenge that…big blue beat Kasparov, I suppose she can move by now


This was obviously not well formulated. Let’s try again: My thought was that if streams of people get pushed out of livelyhood by robots resp. by the people who own these “second intelligent species“, there is going to be social and political reaction that will question the rightfulness of the emerging social order.

In early stages, this is desire able, as my robot works/chooses for me…as much as my “programming” makes choices for me, choices would be made by my “agent” or robot.

I don’t have to farm etc., my robot does…


“I would challenge that…big blue beat Kasparov”

What does that have to do with making choices?

Can’t we say…then
The “human” calculates its move by a program some human constructed.


My position here is one of conceptual framework, not of fact or science. It’s the paradigm that makes sense to me.

And I would say that chess players make calculations when they use a standard opening and follow some pattern – if white moves their rook here, you move your knight here. And anyone who knows that standard opening would know if you made an error because your move deviated from that set response pattern. But:

· The player chose to use that opening rather than a different one

· Later on, the player chooses their move rather than calculating it.

The player’s choice will be influenced by their own experience, their own culture, motivational architecture etc. etc. But what they do is different from what the computer does which is make a large, finite number of calculations according to a program. The computer no more makes a choice than does a rock falling down a steep hill. Big Blue did not intend to win. Was not happy or proud when it won.

I’m not claiming that choice is conscious (the choosing process itself is not) nor that strong a force. Just that there is something beyond Newton’s laws and chemistry and motivational architecture that drives each persn’s behavior.

Reminds me of something a spiritual leader who is close to parts of my family is wont to say– that we (humans) are co-creators (with God) of the universe.

Could be seen as an extension of the verse that man is made in God’s image.

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Genesis 1:26

If a personal meaning of what God is can be abstracted to a sense akin to pure creation, all-connectedness, all-knowingness, and love, then, per the bible verse (if not taken literally that there is a ‘someone’ named God) then man (a.k.a. HUmans) are made of this stuff of God, each with the ability to create/know/connect/love. Could be a nice, self-hugging story we tell ourselves to reduce the prevalence of despair, which I choose (or not) to embrace.

The ability to choose could be seen as an act of creation, a way an individual may co-create the path forward, even among all of the other influences. It’s a spark of sentience that distinguishes us from machines, even as that distinction gets blurrier and blurrier. Maybe it is a false distinction. I don’t know what’s true. I do know what’s useful for me to believe. For now, anyway.


I think where this leads for me is that we are no more in choice than the the computer assigning weights to patterns from a program, which clearly IMHO is no different than a human operating out of their own “program”.

Now if you mean humans and computer programs are different because of a lack of “drama” in the computer software…then that puts us right back to our long debate with experience (drama a result of emotional subjectivity) and capability…in which case you indicate that human attributes clearly emanating from experience + program separate the human and the software.


Which then precipitates my point that you MUST consider experience as a part of capability or all you have is a computer program…


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