The truth, or at least a truth, is that the systems that we recognise as life or living are only really a sub-set of a much larger and distributed range or spectrum of entities and artefacts. Where we assert significance to the overtly and materially self-contained aspects of any particular living system, this is as much as anything a consequence of our intimate familiarity with the particular form or way of being and existence that we inhabit.
There are innumerable other self-propagating information systems, superimposed, interdependent and interpenetrating – both causally and non-locally connected. Where we consider our own intelligence as a pinnacle and paragon of self-organisation, it is more as a consequence that this intelligence has provided us with the aptitude and facility to solve the kinds of problems that an embodied system encounters.
There is a blind-spot of hubris here. We assume by our own form(s) of existence that there might not be similarly (or vastly more) complex entities that also self-replicate, shape their environments as mediums for optimal self-propagation and sustainable continuity, and that possess properties we might recognise as intelligence. Conjecture: we are not the only players on this stage.