Lanier said Elon Musk’s robotic takeover prediction is an expression of a sort of Silicon Valley religion in which a great computer will rise to the status of superior being and become God. Musk’s interview responses are like a religious allegory: When homo sapiens became much smarter than other primates, “it pushed all the others into very small habitat.”

Other primates are threatened, to be sure. But is this really what happens when one species becomes smarter than another? In the same way we are presumably smarter than the chimpanzee, aren’t we also smarter than the rat, and the pigeon? And yet these animals thrive. When the ancestors of marine mammals entered the oceans, they were smarter than the fish, but they didn’t cause fish habitat to dwindle. There must be a smartest species of whale, and yet it hasn’t subjugated all other whales.

Maybe the problem isn’t superior intelligence, but a combination of intelligence with aggression and mob mentality. In the near future, people may be able to blame machines for the harm they are causing. But we would be wise to keep our attention focused, for the time being, on our fellow humans.