Every day we discover we know less than we thought we did. Every question leads to more questons. In the case of this topic many pompously assume we understand what life is. Dynamic systems may be life in a sense. To off-handedly assume we have the market cornered on all knowledge of what is a sentient being would be quite pompous indeed. Before we assume a boundary we must look to see if one even exists. I do not talk to rocks but I keep an open mind. :)
I see an organism as a gatherer of information about the world. The AI paradigm tends to assume a computation system that is a passive receiver of information, and the AI folk want to explain everything in terms of how that information is processed. But that seems mistaken to me. I see an organism as actively involved in collecting information, and even involved in deciding what to consider as information (defining information).
You might think about adding 'purpose' to your informatioin gathering info point of view. Purpose may be a property of every living thing.
My alternative non-traditional view is that the information we gather is the essence of our experience. The qualia simply are the information - not the representation, but the information itself. Our visual experience is of a 3-dimensional world, simply because the information is of a 3-dimensional world.
Our perception of thought does not fall into our concept of three dimensions. Vission is but one way we percieve things.We percieve things within our own thoughts. What "sense" is this? It is the act of perception that is elusive. Still I am not the act of perception. I can also choose to alter my perception. This "phenomenon may be true of all things living in one way or other. The idea that we are unique has no real basis.