I see this from a different perspective. Mathematical quasi-intelligence is already present in pure chemicals and the very specific mathematical/physical ways they MUST interact. All information sharing constitutes an act of intelligence, even when the informational (mathematical) languages differ and both sender and recipient are unaware of the information sharing. However, an entire class of chemicals are relatively restricted in movement. Their patterns are just too dense for flexible movements, those are the "solids", as separate from "fluid". OTOH, the class of bio-chemicals are extremely flexible in communicating with each other and can form a great variety of patterns and movements, dynamical organic patterns (cells) with ability for processing energy for survivability, growth, and duplicating in numbers by mitosis. I agree, but there is a smooth curve from inanimate chemical patterns acting in a quasi intelligent manner, to animate bio-chemical patterns acting in a progressively consciously intelligent manner. Ability to learn and apply learned knowledge for survival. Life is not a mysterious thing, it is remarkable but not mysterious. There is no "elan vital' that creates a specific distinction, different from complexity as a product of extended mutative evolutionary processes. The only requirement is an inherent Dynamical aspect to the universal geometry. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/élan vital Does a crystal posses an elan vital? https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/crystal-growth Thus just a simple imbalance can be sufficient "elan vital" for growth of a purely non-biological crystalline object. It merely needs a dynamical environment with stuff in it. The rest is a probabilistic but deterministic evolution of physical patterns, to ever greater density until "quorum sensing" of sentient organisms can physically relate and interact with patterns at the "level of sensory observation". We settle on reality by agreement and ability to predict deterministic functions. It's a collective "best guess" , the very same principle as the bacterial "quorum sensing"