As someone who thinks about the origins of intelligence everyday, the importance of culture has grown on me over time. I can’t overstate its importance.

Some people have asked me what’s the exact value of culture and expect this question to stump me. But, that’s an absurd question as without culture it would be impossible to ask such questions. Without culture there’s no language, art, political systems, science or technology. An essential question therefore is what are the minimal conditions for culture to emerge in a particular species? Can complex cultures develop in animals without the capacity for language?

I wouldn’t say that there can be no intelligent behaviour without culture but I can confidently say-based on empirical evidence and analysis-that without culture there would be a strict upper-bound on the kinds of intelligent systems that are possible.

Note: I would normally have a list of references here but this time I would advise the curious reader to gather their own data and try various thought experiments.