My son Nova Spivack ( http://novaspivack.typepad.com/nova_spivacks_weblog/2008/02/a-classificatio.html?cid=103805366#comments ) has brought up the subject of developing a universal classification of intelligence. It is a worthwhile effort, and one that may require a century of reflection and research. It is worth more and serious work. Others have and will attempt it as well, and agreement will be slow and hard to achieve.
One problem is that we do not yet have a workable non-universal (species- our own) description of intelligence. My own questions are — What do we mean by intelligence? What are we getting at when we measure it or write about it? Much of the literature seems to confuse intelligence with 'smarts' (see my own previous posting on this blog — Is Intelligence A Property of All Life?)
I wonder if a useful way of discussing intelligence might be to consider it as an aspect of adaptability and a part of all biological process, and extend that into inorganic systems as well.
This dumps us into the possibility that intelligence evolved out of simple primal and basic properties of inorganic and organic systems in the early universe (at least on our planet, and in it’s high form (homo-sapiens) it is merely an extension of those simpler capacities for adaptability and change.
In this context intelligence is a scale of what can change or adapt in any examined system, ecosystem or species and how rapidly (in a comparative sense) this takes place. For instance, what is the scope and depth of possible change and adaptability in a molecule or virus and how does this scale up as systems become more complex? What terminology might we use to consider all this in a fresh perspective and to avoid the language and conceptual pitfalls hidden within our classical and current definitions and research?