Skip to main content Accessibility help

The evolution of general intelligence in all animals and machines

  • Kay E. Holekamp (a1) (a2) (a3) and Risto Miikkulainen (a4) (a3)


We strongly agree that general intelligence occurs in many animals but find the cultural intelligence hypothesis of limited usefulness. Any viable hypothesis explaining the evolution of general intelligence should be able to account for it in all species where it is known to occur, and should also predict the conditions under which we can develop machines with general intelligence as well.



Hide All
Allman, J., McLaughlin, T. & Hakeem, A. (1993) Brain weight and life-span in primate species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 90:118–22.
Anderson, R. C., Mather, J. A., Monette, M. Q. & Zimsen, S. R. M. (2010) Octopuses (Enteroctopus dofleini) recognize individual humans. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 13:261–72.
Brooks, R. A. (1990) Elephants don't play chess. Robotics and Autonomous Systems 6:116. doi: 10.1016/S0921-8890(05)80024-7.
Brooks, R. A. (1991) Intelligence without reason. In: Proceedings of the 12th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-91) , pp. 569–95. Morgan Kaufmann.
Deaner, R. O., Barton, R. A. & van Schaik, C. P. (2003) Primate brains and life history: Renewing the connection. In: Primate Life Histories and Socioecology, eds. Kappeler, P. M. & Pereira, M. E., pp. 233–65. University of Chicago Press.
Goldman, A. & de Vignemont, F. (2009) Is social cognition embodied? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13:154–59. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.01.007.
Hochner, B., Shormrat, T. & Fiorito, G. (2006) The octopus: A model for comparative analysis of the evolution of learning and memory mechanisms. Biological Bulletin 210:308–17.
Lefebvre, L., Reader, S. M. & Sol, D. (2013) Innovating innovation rate and its relationship with brains, ecology and general intelligence. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 81:143–45.
Mather, J. A. (1994) “Home” choice and modification by juvenile Octopus vulgaris: Specialized intelligence and tool use? Journal of Zoology 233:359–68.
Mather, J. A. & Anderson, R. C. (1999) Exploration, play and habituation in Octopus dofleini . Journal of Comparative Psychology 113:333–38.
Mather, J. A., Leite, T. & Battista, A. T. (2012) Individual prey choices of octopus: Are they generalists or specialists? Current Zoology 58:597603.
Montgomery, S. (2015) The Soul of an Octopus. Simon & Schuster.
Oudeyer, P. Y., Kaplan, F. & Hafner, V. (2007) Intrinsic motivation systems for autonomous mental development. IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation 11:265–86. doi: 10.1109/TEVC.2006.890271.
Schmidhuber, J. A. (1991) Possibility for implementing curiosity and boredom in model-building neural controllers. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior: From Animals to Animats, pp. 222–27.
Sharkey, N. E. & Ziemke, T. (1998) A consideration of the biological and psychological foundations of autonomous robotics. Connection Science 10:361–91. doi: 10.1080/095400998116495.
Sinn, D. L., Perrin, N. A., Mather, J. A. & Anderson, R. C. (2001) Early temperamental traits in an octopus (Octopus bimaculoides). Journal of Comparative Psychology 115:351–64.
Sol, D. (2009a) Revisiting the cognitive buffer hypothesis for the evolution of large brains. Biology Letters 5:130–33.
Sol, D. (2009b) The cognitive-buffer hypothesis for the evolution of large brains. In: Cognitive. Ecology II, ed. Dukas, R. & Ratcliffe, J. M. pp. 111–34. University of Chicago Press.
Stanton, C. & Clune, J. (2016) Curiosity search: Producing generalists by encouraging individuals to continually explore and acquire skills throughout their lifetime. PLoS One 11(9):e0162235. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162235.
van Schaik, C. P., Isler, K. & Burkart, J. M. (2012) Explaining brain size variation: From social to cultural brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 16:277–84.
Zullo, L. & Hochner, B. (2011) A new perspective on the organization of an invertebrate brain. Communicative & Integrative Biology 4:2629.


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed