Quote: "Hell my dogs can communicate with me (not even their own species) whether they are tired, want to play, hungry, need to go out, scared, happy, angry."
Do you? Do they? Or do you simply choose to read signals as "telling" you these things (all of which may be mollified by similar responses [comfort/food/attention]. Dogs and humans are very good at picking up cues. Picking up communication cues is not the totality of complexity? Is it? You are right in saying terms ought to be defined. We don't know if it is you reading into your dogs actions (another argument for impressive human complexity, that *you* are reading the cues of another speices, but granted, dogs are pretty neat, and likely have great potential for advancing as a species).
That dogs are domesticated more than some 'other' arbitrary animal species, and that this facilitates empathic, or communicative actions between you and it, does not tell us who is reading what.
I mean, yeah, "comparing" animals and humans isn't very interesting or useful, or fruitful, but you said yourself, humans are vastly complex, have complex societies, global interconnections (without even getting to the internet, the electronics, the secondary encoding of information [beyond biological signalling, like pheromones, vocal chord vibrations, color changes, enlarged genitals etc.,]
You could say that ants have many of the elements of a "civilization" that I listed a few comments up... but is there global connectivity, with instant transmission of information between ants across the planet? So, right there, we have the same elements as they do, and then we add layers on top of that... and ants have some of the most complex social structures we know of in other groups of life. This leads also to the base idea that "we study ants, they cannot study us", this may be because of "on being the right size"... stimulus response is not all of complexity.
They seem like maybe the most likely for global complexity, or maybe more-so microscopic organisms (the communication between bacteriological cells inside humans, the "threshold" communication system that scientists have seen in bacteria are fascinating examples of a complexity) microscopic lifeforms are perhaps the ones that most likely have some "invisible" organizational supra-structure... but yeah, fantasy and sci-fi, or 'gaian' hypotheticals.
It's pretty complex, human society is. I mean, yes, it is possible that we live in a "toy story" like world where animals talk and have societies, and complex global networks in 'secret', we just aren't looking... but that could be puffin-ery.
Humans for absolutely certain have complex societies, and have had for incredible lengths of time. Have gone to space, have chosen to imprison those who threaten stability of collectives of humans, rather than eating them, or killing them by tearing them apart.
We then have a complexity to debate whether it is actually *more* decent to tear someone apart on the spot, or to leave them languishing in those prisons just described.
I guess I just think yes, "it could be puffery"... animals may have complexities we have yet to see, but people are responding to what seemed like "well, humans actually suck, because MAYBE other species are more complex than we know"... dismissing or demeaning the complexity that is evident and right before you (while I agree, there *may* be complexity we may be blind to).
Complexity might be "taking techne beyond biology", or it might be a "communication" thing, or social order thing, or... all of that, and more, there are MANY complexities... so yeah, dolphins, possibly using tools, and possibly teaching others to use them? Or migratory pathways, or the salmon navigating back "home", yes, Complexity... but beyond base complexity? Not really, certainly not "more" than humans doing the same things, magnets in the beaks of birds or not, it isn't complex, just not fully explained; humans can not only do any of these things, with our brains alone, or with tools our brains help to build, beyond this we may theorize, systematize, and alter these concepts.
Like I said, it is a waste of time in this time, with our lack of sophistication at interspecies communication (though it must be said that leaps are occurring in this arena, our chemical understandings of animals, our brain interface computing is moving along), so we are not yet 'reading' other animals thoughts directly, but it seems out of place to act superior to people recognizing and appreciating the complexity of human beings, and not only inherent complexity as animals, but as a species that is acting to cross species boundaries of communication (in the context of [frankly] ignorant earlier comments giving some rote, unthoughtful "humans do violence, and in large scales, thus are evil" lines). People's responses to you on the complexity of humans should be read in *that* context... not as "absolutes" that only humans are complex (I think anyway).
Can you think of any examples of animal complexity that rivals humans? Even just "unexplained complex interactions". People have thousands of examples of the many facets of human complexities, and yes, our knowledge of animals is quite incomplete, but it is not total, we spend a lot of time studying, examining, watching, learning from animals... and have done so for millennia, look at the cave paintings at Chauvet, or Lascaux, they show humans who were *deeply* knowledgable of animal behaviours and patterns, and were in close quarters with animals...
Tl:dr, you are right, animals can be complex, and there is much we do not know, but your example is an example of complex human interaction with a domesticated species... not the best case for humans not being intensely complex.