The early appearance of a form of innovation is accounted for as a feature of the evolutionary origins of intelligence. This is part of a view of intelligence in which the manipulation of continuous variables is argued to be more primitive than concept‐based processing.
It has been shown that continuous‐variable schemes embodying self‐organisation by automatic term selection can model aspects of biological learning, but only when applied to one particular task. On the other hand, a person faces many different tasks, and a versatile‐learning system needs to have a means of classifying situations, and then associating the results of continuous‐variable learning with the appropriate situation class.
The classification of task environments postulated as part of the evolutionary viewpoint can be seen as the beginning of concept‐based thought, as well as of innovation.
The implications are general but may suggest how innovation can be fostered.
The viewpoint is consistent with previous treatments of continuity as an aspect of intellect, notably that of MacKay.
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