A few months ago I became suddenly very fascinated by the question of whether or not we could ever attribute consciousness to a non-human. In the case of my story, the subject in question was a computer-generated little girl named Ada, but really it could have been about anything, an animal or a space alien or a hacked Roomba. The larger point is that no matter how hard we try we can only understand the world around us through our own context. Even then it is difficult. I don’t understand people who disagree with my beliefs, for example. And even though I should obviously know better, I can’t always wrap my mind around the idea that the people I see have internal lives that are kept secret from me, or that they even exist when they are outside of my frame of view.
I know that they exist, though, and that they have separate internal beings known only to themselves because I exist when they aren’t around, and I have thoughts, even complete carefully-constructed worlds, that nobody around me even suspects.
Because it is true with me, and I am human, I can assume it is true with them. But what about other things? Like bumblebees, for example?