Darwin was right about many things, including the mechanism by which the plenitude of life we know as biodiversity came to thrive on this planet. Unfortunately for us, his picture has hit a big roadblock.
What the fossil record does is force us to contemplate our place on the planet. We are but one species of several hominids that inhabited planet earth and like our distant cousins who went extinct fairly recently, our time on planet earth is also finite.
If and when sentient AI becomes reality, will it, too, have the capacity to both anthropomorphize and dehumanize other beings in relation to itself? And if it did, would we view it as more or less human depending on which skill it used to refine its opinion of humanity?
Readers of my posts know I'm drawn to discoveries which shorten that perceived distance between Homo sapiens and the rest of the animals on Mother Earth. It's not that I don't think we're special; rather, it's that I think all of life is special.
We are a cognizant, intelligent, contemplating species, possibly the only such species in the universe. Even if we aren't, we should act as if we are that precious. Our purpose, then, should be to thrive and to be the universe's means of self-contemplation, to be the mind of the universe.
At long last, these creatures who roamed the Continent for hundreds of thousands of years only to become extinct 30,000 years ago under the onslaught of modern humans from Africa are getting a major upgrade by the scientific community.
Does intellectual ability make us human? Or self-consciousness? Or the possession of a soul? Or tool-making? Or private property? Or genetic inheritance? Whatever definition we choose, it excludes some creatures we might want to include in the "human."
The recent news flash that researchers had observed a neutrino particle exceeding the speed of light did not excite the world much. If true, though, this bit of information should totally change physics as we know it.