The "emergence" of order and structure in complex and apparently chaotic systems appears to give rise to intelligence systems spontaneously. Students who have not already looked at complexity theory, chaos theory, and constructal theory will find explorations there to compliment their appreciation of cognitive systems.
The emergence of consciousness from the physical world has over the millennia given rise to a host of mythological explanations. Scientific explanations are within our grasp.
My own conjecture is that because organisms (entities) exist in a world of action they are guided in their evolution toward consciousness by interaction with the physical world which inherently involves energy, mass, space, perception, specialization and changing environment. These shape the river of emerging consciousness. The flow appears to arise because of energy differentials. The shape and structure of the flow arises to facilitate flow.
A potentially key idea is that there are pressures propelling systems forward. From the macro to the nano there are differences in concentrations of energy and mass - pressure gradients.
The form of the double helix is deeply rooted in the structure and properties of the universe and from that the emergent properties of consciousness and cognition appear to be found.
Initially organisms interact and communicate in simple stimulus response modes but, like the chords in the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", with increasing strength and sophistication.
With careful attention to emergence properties we may be able to hasten the reverse engineering of aspects of cognition that can be put to use in creating beneficial artificial general intelligence.