What makes humans different

Let me borrow the question from thedoctorweighsin.com:

For a long while, we thought that ‘intelligence’ set us apart. We now know better; whales, dolphins, crows, parrots, and apes, to name a few, have been shown to possess a high level of intelligence. Is it our ‘self-awareness’ that makes us unique? Not quite. Apes are showing various degrees of self-awareness. Is it our ‘communication skills’? They are indeed highly developed, but they are not unique; whales, dolphins, birds and apes all communicate via quite complex languages. It has been suggested that our capacity to feel and show ’empathy’ is uniquely human. Have you seen a mother elephant grieving over her dead infant? Have you ever seen the whole herd commiserating with her? Have you heard of the African buffaloes who form a protective shield around a female who is giving birth, to ward off predators and vultures?

Well, the Smithsonian has traded email with Yuval Noah Harari, a lecturer in history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Harari has explored the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” Just the kind of guy I’ve been looking for.

As the unique trait that links all human beings, Harari considers:

The truly unique trait of [Homo] Sapiens is our ability to create and believe fiction. All other animals use their communication system to describe reality. We use our communication system to create new realities.

I guess an other word for that would be ‘imagination’.

Imagination allows us to look forward in time, consider multiple alternatives, and when combined with memory, make conscious choices: to design our world.