However, all organisms genetically encode information through their adaptions to the local environment. This provides an interesting general definition of life. The difference between human and non-human life on Earth is that only information about the local environment is recorded by the latter. For instance, the fact that Earth’s atmosphere contains substantial amounts of oxygen likely is implied in an aerobe’s genetic code. Likewise the genetics of all organisms on Earth implicitly encode information about organic chemistry. However, particle physics or the theory of general relatively clearly are not represented in such organisms. They are, conversely, in human brains and the environment we have created. These increasingly completely represent all phenomena/properties of our universe, not just those relevant to our immediate surroundings. However, even humans are only capable of witnessing phenomena in the observable universe. Nevertheless, it seems very plausible this is a big enough sample of the natural world to allow observation and understanding of all types of phenomena. Another difference between human and non-human organisms is that the we encode much larger amounts of information through physical manipulation of our environment than the others.
The prospective I suggest is compelling because unlike traits such as cognition or tool use, it cleanly distinguishes between humans and non-human animals on Earth. Therefore we would also expect to see these properties in other similarly advanced alien species, if any exist. It is likely a more useful and reliable notion of “intelligent life” than the traditional definitions.