Every week this theme of how to make technology more human seems to resurface in a slightly different way. Last week, a story about some new research from legendary neurologist and author Antonio Damasio caught my eye with an unusual thesis: robots could be more resilient and valuable to humanity if they had a sense of self-preservation. It’s a dangerously elegant idea.

Since the central plot device of any dystopian science fiction narrative that features artificial intelligence taking over our world is that it will inevitably come to the same conclusion: our planet and environment is undeniably safer, healthier and likely better without humans polluting it. So the only logical conclusion for AI would be to eliminate us humans. Unless we build that technology with a deep understanding of our (and its own) mortality.

We need the robots to have empathy, in other words, because it could be catastrophically worse for everyone in the future if they don’t.