A primary goal of research in AI is to develop more reliable, general, and adaptable systems, ones that are trustworthy and that can more successfully collaborate with humans. However, an obstacle to making our machines more intelligent is the fact that intelligence itself is an ill-understood concept, and science is far from a principled understanding of the properties of intelligence and the mechanisms that generate intelligence in natural systems. We believe that new breakthroughs in AI research are most likely to come from a concentrated collaborative effort between AI specialists and researchers who think deeply about the nature of intelligence in different disciplines.

Our Foundations of Intelligence project explores five research themes central to the study of intelligence:

           1. Taxonomy of Intelligence across Disciplines
           2. Development and Life History of Intelligent Systems
           3. Concept Formation, Abstraction, and Analogy
           4. Collective Intelligence
           5. Evolutionary and Co-Evolutionary Intelligence

We are exploring these themes via workshops that bring together researchers from diverse disciplines to map out questions and methods as well as to engage in research driven by these questions.

This project is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (#2020103).


Melanie Mitchell

Melanie Mitchell

Project PI Melanie Mitchell is the Davis Professor of Complexity at the Santa Fe Institute. Her research focuses on conceptual abstraction, analogy-making, and visual recognition in AI systems.

Melanie Moses

Melanie Moses

Project Co-PI Melanie Moses is a Professor in the UNM Department of Computer Science. Her research focuses on developing models of biological systems and applying biologically-inspired computation (esp. in swarm robotics).

Tyler Millhouse

Tyler Millhouse

Tyler Millhouse is a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. His research focuses on understanding what models in machine learning and artificial intelligence can tell us about models in science and cognition.


Nihat Ay, Jessica Flack, Stephanie Forrest, Mirta Galesic, Alison Gopnik, Garrett Kenyon, David Krakauer, Risto Miikkulainen, Bruno Olshausen, David Wolpert, Chris Wood


April 12 - 15, 2022

Embodied, Situated, and Grounded Intelligence: Implications for AI

March 30 - April 1, 2022

Can Algorithms Bend the Arc Toward Justice?

February 28 - March 4, 2022

Real Patterns in Science and Cognition

August 31 - September 2, 2021

Collective Intelligence in Natural and Artificial Systems

July 21 - 23, 2021

Frontiers of Evolutionary Computation

March 15 - 19, 2021

Foundations of Intelligence in Natural and Artificial Systems

Featured Publications

Millhouse, T., Moses, M., & Mitchell, M. (2021). "Frontiers in Collective Intelligence: A Workshop Report." https://arxiv.org/abs/2112.06864.

Millhouse, T., Moses, M., & Mitchell, M. (2021). "Frontiers in Evolutionary Computation: A Workshop Report."https://arxiv.org/abs/2110.10320.

Millhouse, T., Moses, M., & Mitchell, M. (2021). "Foundations of Intelligence in Natural and Artificial Systems: A Workshop Report." https://arxiv.org/abs/2105.02198.

Contact Us

To get in touch, please email project postdoc Tyler Millhouse.