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Non-human (also written nonhuman) is a general term that describes an object or creature that displays some human characteristics but not enough characteristics to be considered a human. The term has been used in a variety of contexts.
Animal rights and personhood
In the animal rights movement, it is common to distinguish between "human animals" and "non-human animals". Participants in the animal rights movement generally recognize that non-human animals have some similar characteristics to those of human persons. For example, various non-human animals have been shown to register pain, compassion, memory, and some cognitive function. Some animal rights activists argue that the similarities between human and non-human animals justify giving non-human animals rights that human society has afforded to humans, such as the right to self-preservation, and some even wish for all non-human animals or at least those that bear a fully thinking and conscious mind, such as vertebrates and some invertebrates such as cephalopods, to be given a full right of personhood.
In 2013, India officially recognized dolphins as non-human persons.
The term non-human has been used to describe computer programs and robot-like devices that display some human-like characteristics. In both science fiction and in the real world, computer programs and robots have been built to perform tasks that require human-computer interactions in a manner that suggests sentience and compassion. There is increasing interest in the use of robots in nursing homes and to provide elder care. Computer programs have been used for years in schools to provide one-on-one education with children. The Tamagotchi toy required children to provide care, attention, and nourishment to keep it "alive".
- Nick Bilton (May 19, 2013), "Disruptions: Helper Robots Are Steered, Tentatively, to Care for the Aging", The New York Times, retrieved 2013-05-24
- Johnson, Jim. "Mixing Humans and Nonhumans Together: The Sociology of a Door-Closer".
- Latour, Bruno. "Will Non-humans be Saved? An Argument in Ecotheology".