|Can you prove to this computer that you are human?|
I've been spending a significant amount of time lately thinking about artificial life and machine intelligence. Alan Turing imagined what has come to be known as a "Turing Test", a kind of game that would provide an operational definition of human intelligence. Turing's guess was that by the year 2000 there would be computers that we would all feel comfortable calling "intelligent".
That didn't happen.
We like to think of the human species as being at the top, having ascended during the past 7 million years through several intermediate steps from a common ancestor to chimps and humans.
|Alien with a big brain.|
I put "beyond" in quotes, because it is not clear what might come next. Bigger brains might not be better. There is some evidence that human brains have actually gotten smaller during the most recent phase of human evolution.
In an Exodemic story, if I introduce the idea of a type of space alien that has existed as a sapient species for tens of millions of years then I'm usually able to leave all the details of the physiology and appearance of those aliens to the reader's imagination. For argument's sake, let's call those aliens the Huaoshy. But here is an analogy:
domesticating" the common ancestor to chimps and humans. In other words, the course of human evolution has been controlled by the Huaoshy. In particular, they have in mind a goal; they know the type of creature that they want to transform the human species into. Further, imagine that the Huaoshy have set up several "cultures" of humans, experimental laboratories of human evolution located on several different worlds where the trials and errors and designs and genetic engineering of humans can be played out across many thousands of years.
Imagine that we humans here on Earth have gone along an evolutionary trajectory as illustrated above (You Are Here). At the same time, on another world the Huaosy have been more aggressive and they managed to engineer a human variant that is much closer to their desired goal. Now, if brought before your maker (the Huaoshy) how would you argue the case for we Earthlings? What if the Huaoshy have their own concept of what constitutes a sapient creature and in their terms, we here on Earth are still sub-human creatures, not much better than chimps?
So here is the contest: prove to the Huaoshy that you are human. Warning: the Huaoshy are going to use their own highly subjective standard for what constitutes "human".