I am attempting to create a low-level “organism” of sorts, which has all the basic components needed to control a body, form models of itself, of its world, etc. and learn to satisfy needs. This seed entity will be the starting point of an artificial “selective breeding” algorithm, where a judge algorithm will select the parents for each subsequent generation based on how well they score in various challenges intended to measure their general level of intelligence.
So just as the judge of a dog show doesn’t need to interpret the participants’ neural activity, the judge in this algorithm is only concerned with how well the individuals perform the tasks (doesn’t need to access the internal state of the competitors)
The system is a little more complicated than that (the goal is actually to have the creatures learn to rewrite their own code, so judging is actually not based on the parents’ level of intelligence, but on whether they are able to modify their offspring’s code in a way that makes them more intelligent than the parent). But you get the general idea.