Human

The book I'm truly enjoying right now is Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. This book has made me really ponder the question of what it means to be human. As I was reading the book few nights ago, I paused and googled "human". I wanted to see what comes up. One of the top results was Wikipedia, not surprisingly.


I started reading the very long Wiki page and after a few paragraphs, I had to pause. The first few paragraphs pulled me out of the perspective I had. I felt so "un-special" and "un-unique" about being human. Let me elaborate. The Wikipedia explains about human in such an objective/matter-of-fact way. The content was definitely written by a human. But it reads like someone/something else wrote about human just the way humans write about a plant or animal species.


Here is one of the paragraphs from the Wiki page:


Humans are omnivorous, capable of consuming a wide variety of plant and animal material, and have used fire and other forms of heat to prepare and cook food since the time of H. erectus. They can survive for up to eight weeks without food, and three or four days without water. Humans are generally diurnal, sleeping on average seven to nine hours per day. Childbirth is dangerous, with a high risk of complications and death. Often, both the mother and the father provide care for their children, who are helpless at birth.

Doesn't it sound so much like "human is one of many species occupying this planet"?


As I was reading about artificial intelligence, I was thinking hard about being human in the age of AI. Then, I read this Wiki page.


The thoughts and questions I had had prior to reading the Wiki page about human were:

  • Humans are a special and unique being.

  • As various forms of artificial intelligence become more advanced, we won't be as special anymore?

  • What will truly differentiate us from other intelligent beings?


The Wiki page reminded me:

  • Humans are just one of many species that has lived on this planet.

  • We have not been any more (or less) important than any other species anyway.


“... I was reminded of what the nature is always telling me: Humans are not the protagonist of this planet’s story. If there is a main character, it is life itself. … But in the age of Anthropocene, humans tend to believe despite all available evidence that the world is here for our benefit …” - John Green, The Anthropocene Reviewed