“Tides and Sails,” © Josef Barton, JoeyJazz.














“New World,” © Ken Barthelmey, The Art of Ken.














“Mycteria americana – Details,” © Justin Chase Black, Throwing Chicken.














“The Ovi Return,” © Nathan E. Rogers, Microcosmic Ecology.














“She Cyborg,” © AhMeD-19.

For thousands of years, humans have wondered whether we are alone in the universe. Thanks to modern breakthroughs in space exploration, we may finally know the answer within our lifetimes. Meanwhile here on Earth, dramatic advances in computer science bring the possibility of advanced artificial intelligence ever closer to reality.

Yet for all our searching for intelligent beings among the stars, or striving to create them in a laboratory, we often fail to realize that we have never been alone even on Earth. We share the world with millions of other animal species, many of whom we now know to be intelligent and even conscious. Despite this, human society continues to exploit animals for its own ends, with scarcely a thought to their well-being. And while scientists strive to make contact with ET and AI a reality, the moral issues such beings raise are seldom discussed outside science fiction.

Will humans continue in our old ways of treating animals and other sentient beings we may encounter? Can we rethink our place in nature, and learn to treat our fellow creatures with respect and responsibility? This exhibit, Beyond Human: Animals, Aliens, and Artificial Intelligence, explores what we now know about intelligence outside our species, what we still hope to learn, and the questions we face as we head into the future.

Enter the Exhibit

Site Map


Where you are now!


What Do We Believe?

Explore the worldviews that have shaped human beliefs about ourselves, other beings, and our place in the universe.


Do They Exist?

Why bother considering alien life or artificial intelligence? Delve into the emerging fields of AI research and astrobiology, and learn why many scientists believe the discovery or creation of such beings could happen within our lifetime.


Among Us Already…

We have yet to encounter extraterrestrials or sentient AIs, but there are other intelligent non-human beings among us already: animals. Match wits with animals through interactive puzzles, and discover how smart they really can be.

What Can Animals Tell Us?

Learn more about some of the most fascinating creatures with whom we share the planet, and what they might have to teach us about ETs and AIs.


The Riddle of Consciousness

Intelligence is impressive, but is it enough to warrant moral concern? Here we ponder the mystery that is conscious experience, and scientific attempts to unravel it.

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness

Read the July 7, 2012 document that made history, as influential scientists from around the world declared their conviction that animals are conscious.


What Should We Do?

So the future may contain ETs and AIs. So animals may be intelligent, conscious beings. So what? Where does that leave us? Consider some of the moral dilemmas such possibilities raise, and weigh in with your own thoughts.



Confirm that what you’ve read isn’t just science fiction, and find resources for further reading.

Copyright and Fair Use

Check the copyright status of media on this website, and the conditions under which we use it.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email