One well-known attempt to “bake an intentional cake out of physical yeast and flour” is Fred Dretske’s Knowledge and the Flow of Information. According to Dretske,“Perhaps…the intentionality of our cognitive attitudes…a feature that some philosophers take to be distinctive of the mental, is a manifestation of their underlying information-theoretic structures.”
Angus Menuge, in Agents Under Fire, (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004) pp. 179-180 offers two lines of response.
“The first is to note that the move does not really work but is yet another example of relocating and hiding the original problem. If the transmission of information is to do any work in explaining human cognition and behavior, this information cannot be viewed as mere uninterpreted signals. We must suppose that the information has content. For example, if certain signals from the visual cortex of as tourist near Banff National Park carry the information that a grizzly bear is ten feet away, then the fact clearly explains the tourist’s recollecting the ranger’s advice, “Do not run; if attacked, lie face down until the bear moves away.” But physical signals are not self-interpreting. Indeed the pattern of events occurring in the visual cortex might be interpreted in an infinite number of ways, only a few of which are relevant to the encounter with a grizzly. The fact is that the salient information in these signals is recoverable by an interpretive agent who understands them. Understanding is, however, an intentional state.”
"Likewise, merely understanding the information that a grizzly is nearby explains nothing without supposing that one not only has a desire to stay alive but also has instrumental beliefs about how to do so….For information to do the kind of work that it needs to do to explain human actions, intentional attitudes toward that information will have to be involved."
Menuge goes on to argue that the information involved in cognition is a prime example of the sort of specified complexity that is best explained by intelligent design.