Veit suggests that the challenge of coordinating movement in multicellular organisms led to the evolution of a prioritizing value system, which rendered organisms complex enough to be sentient and drove the Cambrian explosion, while the absence of this evaluation system led to the demise of Ediacaran animals. In this commentary we criticize Veit’s terminology and evolutionary proposals, arguing that his terminology and evolutionary scenarios are problematic, and put forward alternative proposals. We suggest that sentience is a system property, and that the evolution of sentience was the outcome of the evolution of open-ended associative learning, which included the coevolution of sensory, motor, memory, and value subsystems. We suggest that these coevolutionary system dynamics were a factor in the Cambrian explosion and contributed to the extinction of the Ediacaran biota.
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