Non-Human Intelligence (NHI)

As we continue to evolve as a society and make advancements in science, technology, and our understanding of the universe, our lexicon must evolve alongside to accurately describe our changing world and future possibilities. We will need new words and phrases to describe concepts, technologies, and phenomena that do not yet exist or are not yet fully understood. This includes not only tangible advancements like AI, quantum computing, or space travel, but also shifts in social structures, identities, and cultural norms. As we increasingly consider concepts such as transhumanism, life extension, interstellar travel, and potential contact with extraterrestrial or other forms of non-human intelligence, our language will need to adapt to capture these realities. The words we use can shape our understanding of and relationship to these future possibilities. By developing a more nuanced language, we can better prepare ourselves for a future that is likely to be drastically different from our present.

The term “Non-Human Intelligence” has been in use in various forms and contexts for many years, often in the realm of science fiction, speculative thought, and increasingly in scientific discussions about the search for extraterrestrial life.

Non-human intelligence refers to the cognitive abilities demonstrated by entities or beings that are not human. These abilities can include problem-solving, memory recall, understanding complex concepts, social interaction, or the ability to learn and adapt to new circumstances. While traditionally associated with certain animal species, non-human intelligence now also includes the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence (AI).

Non-Human Intelligence (NHI) may not be the best choice to replace the term “alien” or “extra-terrestrial” due to its potential for ambiguity and lack of specificity. Primarily, the term NHI can refer to a wide spectrum of intelligences, from artificial intelligences and advanced algorithms, to intelligent non-human animals on Earth, or even hypothetical advanced consciousness such as collective hive minds or superorganisms. The term doesn’t clearly delineate extra-terrestrial intelligences, which is the primary connotation associated with the term “alien.” Additionally, NHI fails to capture the element of the ‘unknown’ or ‘foreign’, a fundamental aspect of our conception of aliens. The use of the term alien has come to imply not only a form of intelligence that is non-human, but specifically one that originates outside our own planet. Consequently, replacing “alien” with NHI could potentially lead to more confusion rather than clarity.

Non-human intelligence can be observed in many animal species. For instance, crows and other members of the corvid family are known for their remarkable problem-solving abilities and tool use, comparable in some aspects to those of primates (Marzluff, J., & Angell, T. 2005, “In the Company of Crows and Ravens”). Dolphins display sophisticated social interactions and self-awareness, recognizing themselves in mirrors (Marino, L., 2002, “Convergence of Complex Cognitive Abilities in Cetaceans and Primates”). Elephants, too, exhibit remarkable long-term memory and empathy, grieving their dead (McComb, K., et al., 2006, “Elephants can determine ethnicity, gender, and age from acoustic cues in human voices”).

The rise of machine learning and AI has resulted in another facet of non-human intelligence. Artificial intelligence technologies, such as OpenAI’s GPT-3, can understand and generate human-like text, demonstrating a rudimentary form of understanding. This form of non-human intelligence is marked by its ability to analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and make predictions or decisions based on that analysis, far surpassing the capabilities of human analysts in terms of speed and volume (Marcus, G., 2020, “Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust”).

Renowned primatologist Dr. Frans de Waal, for instance, argues for a reconsideration of how we perceive animal intelligence, focusing on understanding it on its terms instead of comparing it to human intelligence (de Waal, F., 2016, “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?”). Meanwhile, AI expert Dr. Stuart Russell advocates for careful management of AI development, cautioning about the potentially unpredictable outcomes when AI systems surpass human intelligence (Russell, S., 2019, “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control”).

“The Genius of Birds” by Jennifer Ackerman explores avian intelligence, arguing that bird brains are not inferior but simply different in design and function from ours. On the AI side, Max Tegmark’s “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” speculates on the potential future of superintelligent AI, warning of the risks and suggesting careful preparation.

Non-human intelligence spans the gamut from animals displaying sophisticated cognitive abilities to AI systems capable of processing vast amounts of data. The exploration of these diverse forms of intelligence continues to evolve, prompting us to redefine our understanding of intelligence itself and our relationship with the non-human intelligent sharing our world.


In the quest to understand and articulate the nature of the diverse forms of intelligence we encounter – language plays a crucial role. It frames our perceptions, guides our interactions, and influences our understanding. It is thus essential to choose terminology that is descriptive, accurate, and fits the meaning. I believe the term “Coexistents” is an encompassing and harmonious descriptor for these entities, offering a fresh perspective on our relationship with the myriad forms of intelligence in our shared reality.

“Coexistents” appears to be a superior term when referring to diverse forms of intelligence, whether they are animal, artificial, or potentially extraterrestrial.

“Coexistence” and “coexistents” share the same root word, “coexist”, but they represent different forms and uses of the term.

“Coexistence” is a noun that refers to the state or condition of living or existing at the same time or in the same place. It generally implies a peaceful living together. For instance, it is often used to describe different species inhabiting the same ecosystem with each other.

On the other hand, “coexistents” is a term that isn’t as commonly used. It would typically be understood to mean entities that coexist. The -ents ending suggests a plurality of beings or things that are in a state of coexistence. In other words, if “coexistence” is the state or condition, “coexistents” would be the beings or things that are in that state or condition.

This term has several advantages:

  1. Inclusivity: “Coexistents” encompasses a broad range of intelligent entities without specifying their nature, origins, or characteristics. This allows it to be used to refer to different forms of intelligence, such as those found in animals, AI, extraterrestrial life and others.
  2. Ambiguity: The term “Coexistents” implies simultaneous existence but does not make any assumptions about the entities’ origins, whether they are native to Earth or from elsewhere. This makes it a suitable term for entities whose origins are unknown or yet to be determined.
  3. Neutrality: Unlike terms such as “alien,” which carry certain connotations (e.g., foreign, non-native), “Coexistents” is neutral and free from such implications. This allows for a more unbiased discussion and consideration of these entities.
  4. Respectful: The term “Coexistents” carries a sense of respect, acknowledging these entities as fellow inhabitants of our shared reality, rather than designating them as “other” or “alien.”
  5. Scientific Approach: The term “Coexistents” aligns with a scientific approach to understanding these entities. It encourages investigation and understanding based on observation and evidence, rather than preconceived notions or biases.

Using “Coexistents” to refer to these diverse forms of intelligence emphasizes their shared existence with us, acknowledges their intelligence, and opens the door to unbiased investigation and understanding.

  1. ETs/Extraterrestrials: This term assumes that the entities come from outside of Earth. “Coexistents” does not make this assumption, allowing for a broader range of possibilities, including interdimensional beings or entities from within Earth itself.
  2. Aliens: This term often carries negative connotations or is used to emphasize strangeness and difference. “Coexistents” promotes unity and acknowledges shared existence, implying a potentially more harmonious relationship.
  3. Beings: While “Beings” is a broad term, it is not specific to extraterrestrial life. “Coexistents” suggests shared existence in the universe, which might be more appropriate for describing occupants of UFOs.
  4. NHI (Non-Human Intelligence): “NHI” distinguishes entities based on their non-human nature, whereas “Coexistents” again emphasizes shared existence, thus might be more harmonious.
  5. Lifeforms: “Lifeforms” is a rather scientific, biological term. “Coexistents” is a more philosophical term, emphasizing the shared experience of existence.
  6. Visitors: The term “Visitors” implies a temporary stay or that the entities come from elsewhere. “Coexistents” does not have this connotation.
  7. Entities: This term is very broad and can apply to anything from a corporation to a ghost. “Coexistents” is more specific and relates more directly to UFO occupants.
  8. Creatures: This term can be dehumanizing or demeaning. “Coexistents” is more neutral and respectful.
  9. Star Beings: “Star Beings” may limit the possible origin of these entities to star systems. “Coexistents” does not make this assumption.
  10. Interstellar Travelers: This term presumes that the entities are traveling between stars, whereas “Coexistents” does not make a presumption about their origin or method of travel.
  11. Off-Worlders: Like “ETs” or “Extra-Terrestrial Life”, “Off-Worlders” assumes that the entities originate outside of Earth, a presumption not made by “Coexistents”.
  12. Extraterrestrial Biological Entities (EBEs): This term makes specific biological and extraterrestrial assumptions. “Coexistents” does not make such specific assumptions, and so might be more encompassing.
  13. Cosmonauts: “Cosmonauts” implies that the entities are space travelers, like astronauts, but does not necessarily imply extraterrestrial origin. “Coexistents” is broader, not presuming the origin or purpose of the entities.
  14. Celestials: This term has spiritual or heavenly connotations, which might not always be appropriate. “Coexistents” is a more neutral term.
  15. Space Inhabitants: This term assumes that the entities live in space, whereas “Coexistents” does not make this specific assumption.
  16. Otherworldly Beings: “Otherworldly Beings” emphasizes difference and separation, whereas “Coexistents” emphasizes unity and shared existence.
  17. Angels: “Angels” in various cultures and religions are often viewed as messengers or agents of divine will. The term “Coexistents” can encompass angels by acknowledging their presence and interaction in the human experience without the traditional religious or spiritual assumptions.
  18. Demons: While “Demons” are typically associated with malevolence or supernatural harm in many traditions, they can be recontextualized as “Coexistents.” This rephrasing avoids the negative connotations and recognizes these entities as part of the broader spectrum of existence, perhaps with misunderstood or varied intentions and natures.
  19. Deities: The term “Deities” refers to gods and goddesses in various religious beliefs, often seen as supreme or powerful beings. Using “Coexistents” for deities allows for a recognition of these powerful forces or beings without aligning with specific religious doctrines, suggesting a shared existence and influence in the universe.

The term “Coexistents” inherently promotes the idea of shared existence, a universal community, and mutual recognition, which can lead to a more respectful understanding of these entities.

Through a careful analysis of existing terminology, we have explored the advantages of using the term “Coexistents” in addressing the diverse forms of intelligence that cohabit our universe. “Coexistents” emphasizes shared existence and a mutual recognition that extends beyond earthly confines. This term aligns us towards unity rather than separation, discovery rather than bias, and respect rather than misunderstanding. “Coexistents” invites us to reframe our understanding of the varied intelligences we encounter, fostering a sense of universal community and encouraging a dialogue about our place within this vast cosmos.