Much of our research on intelligence has started by assuming that humans are special. And I think that’s exactly the wrong place to start if you’re interested in the evolution of intelligence. And if you’re interested in the evolution of intelligence, humans aren’t so much special as different …
So the three ingredients of intelligence are inference, representation, and strategy … If you accept that intelligence is defined by having these common ingredients, then you see that intelligence is present everywhere in nature … And the question then becomes … what’s different between the way we do inference, strategy, and representation and the way … a simple bacterium does it? … And I think that that’s how we should think about intelligence — as a quantitative variation.
This project seeks to explore the long history of life on earth in relation to the emergence of increasing complexity across key biological lineages. In practice this implies that we seek to identify those general conditions when organisms are selected to increase the amount of information they encode about their surroundings and other organisms, and the diversity of mechanisms that have evolved to accomplish these goals.
The evolution of complexity and intelligence on earth | Santa Fe Institute