As an alternative to preprogrammed rule-based artificial intelligence, collective learning systems theory postulates a hierarchical network of cellular automata which acquire their knowledge through learning based on a series of trial-and-error interactions with an evaluating environment, much as humans do. The input to the hierarchical network is provided by a set of sensors which perceive the external world. Using both this perceived information and past experience (memory), the learning automata synthesize collections of trial responses, periodically modifying their memories based on internal evaluations or external evaluations from the environment. Based on collective learning systems theory, an adaptive transputer- based image-processing engine comprising a three-layer hierarchical network of 32 learning cells and 33 nonlearning cells has been applied to a difficult image processing task: the scale, phase, and translation-invariant detection of anomalous features in otherwise `normal' images. Known as adaptive learning image analysis system (ALIAS), this parallel-processing engine has been constructed and tested at the Research institute for Applied Knowledge Processing (FAW) in Ulm, Germany under the sponsorship of Robert Bosch GmbH. Results demonstrate excellent detection, discrimination, and localization of anomalies in binary images. Recent enhancements include the ability to process gray-scale images and the automatic supervised segmentation and classification of images. Current research is directed toward the processing of time-series data and the hierarchical extension of ALIAS from the sub-symbolic level to the higher levels of symbolic association.