A hallmark of life is plasticity, which enables reproduction, evolution, and environmental adaptivity. It is natural to wonder if these remarkable features in nature and biology can be realized in the materials world and implemented in the emerging fields of autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, and animal–machine interfaces. First, we describe fundamental features of neurons and synapses in the brain that are responsible for information processing. Then we discuss mechanisms governing electronic plasticity in correlated electronic quantum materials that mimic organismic behavior. We give examples of learning networks and circuits designed using quantum materials that can be implemented for machine intelligence. We conclude with suggestions for future interdisciplinary research wherein synergistic interactions between orbital filling, defects, and strain could give rise to new functionality of relevance to sensory interfaces (e.g., haptics), neural information processing, and neuroscience.