In a previous post, Amoebic Intelligence, it was reported that amoebas were showing rudimentary intelligence, sentience. How far down does this go? Are viruses alive? Do they have rudimentary intelligence, or are they purely organic compounds following blindly, without sentience, without intelligence, the rules of chemical reactions? A crystal grows, and is, to an extent, self organizing. But not alive. So some argue a virus is not alive either. But it does raise the question, at what point does organic chemistry become complicated enough that sentience, even the most rudimentary level, arises?
Why is this question important? The answer may show that intelligence is a logical outcome of life, and thus, intelligence may be common among alien life (whether high level sentient intelligence is common is another matter).
Schewe, Phillip F. and Jason S. Bardi. "Amoebas Anticipate Climate Change." The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News. Number 852. 3 Jan. 2008 . Web. 3 Jan. 2008. <www.aip.org/pnu>.