“Intelligence, historically, has been defined as the ability of an individual to adapt to the environment. Building on this definition, I argue for a concept of adaptive intelligence whereby adapting to, shaping, and selecting real-world environments so as to recognize, define, and solve real-world problems—not just artificial ones—is the core of what constitutes intelligent thought and behavior.”  (Sternberg, Robert J.  (2023) [1].

  • Paul Rozin (1976) has suggested that the “intelligence” as a phenotype consists of subprograms, each highly specialized for specific analytical and integrative functions.[2]  Examples are rapid learning, imprinting and critical period learning, memory, and even consciousness.  The specializations may be locally duplicated–reinvented where useful in the brain–but the relative accessibility of these subprograms to each other by physical connections, is, in Rozin’s view, the crucial element in apparent intelligence and may even reflect the manner in which “intelligence” evolves. (Rozin, Paul.  1976.  The evolution of intelligence and access to the cognitive unconscious.  Progress in Psychobiology and Physiological Psychology. 6:245- 280).

“Every living thing is a sort of imperialist, seeking to transform as much as possible of its environment into itself… When we compare the (present) human population of the globe with… that of former times, we see that “chemical imperialism” has been… the main end to which human intelligence has been devoted.”  (Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Philosophy, Meridian Books, Cleveland and New York, 1960, pp 31‑32. (1)



MEMORY is an essential corollary of LEARNING which may occur in single celled organisms:  Might Myxobacteria be a candidate? (Look at Dale Kaiser’s (2013) “Are myxobacteria intelligent?”)  Paramecium? Stentor? A few researchers think so. Read article: https://www.the-scientist.com/features/can-single-cells-learn-68694.     


Octopus brains are not situated, like ours, in their heads; rather, they are decentralized, with brains that extend throughout their bodies and into their limbs. Each of their arms contains bundles of neurons that act as independent minds, allowing them to move about and react of their own accord, unfettered by central control. Octopuses are a con­federation of intelligent parts, which means their awareness, as well as their thinking, occurs in ways which are radically different to our own.” (excerpt from “Another Path To Intelligence.” By James Bridle[i] read the entire (brief) essay)



[2] “In this paper, I shall consider intelligence as a phenotype, subject to the same biological principles and evolutionary forces as any other phenotype. As is the case with virtually all complex biological systems, intelligence should be organized in a hierarchical manner, out of component “subprograms.” Within an evolutionary framework, these subprograms, which can be called adaptive specializations, usually originate as specific solutions to specific problems in survival, such as prey detection. These specializations, functionally defined, may be simple programs or circuits, or clusters of these, and may contain both plastic and prewired elements. They form the building blocks for higher level intelligence.  //  At the time of their origin, these specializations are tightly wired into the functional system they were designed to serve and are thus inaccessible to other   programs or systems in the brain.  I suggest that   in the course of evolution these programs become more accessible to other systems and, in the extreme, may rise to the level of consciousness and be applied over the full realm of behavior or mental function.  Accessibility can be gained by establishment of a physical connection of one system to another or by duplication of one system’s circuitry in another part of the brain by use of the appropriate genetic blueprint. I maintain that the notion of accessibility, or levels of Accessibility, is useful in understanding the development and dissolution of intelligence, as well as its evolution. This paper is devoted to supporting and elaborating these claims and exploring the implications of this position for a psychology of learning and education. It is suggested that part of the process of learning and education can be considered as bringing to consciousness some of the limited-access programs, the “cognitive unconscious,” already in the head.


[i]Another Path To Intelligence.” By James Bridle. In  NAUTILUS – August 17, 2022. https://nautil.us/another-path-to-intelligence-23113/ )