Re: Silent memes

Date: Sun 27 Jul 2003 - 20:50:18 GMT

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    In a message dated 7/24/2003 12:34:49 AM Central Daylight Time, Keith Henson <> writes:

    > (Snip to get under size limit)
    > >>Memes, at least the abstract information model I prefer, don't
    > >>"self-replicate" either. Takes a copy machine at least, even if you
    > t
    > >>count the humans in the loop (which you should since they made the copy
    > >>machines).
    > >>
    > >>Point being that the *only* common thing I can see in any "replication"
    > is
    > >>making copies of the *information*. The media in brains, on paper, or
    > >>tape, in which a meme is encoded is never exactly the same. Even DNA
    > >>replication seldom makes an "exact" material copy since the copies
    > be
    > >>distinguished by different isotopes of the elements in the base pairs.
    > But
    > >>unless there has been a mutation, the genetic *information* is exact
    > >>between copies. Same way the information of 3 balls and 4 strikes is
    > exact
    > >>in millions of books and brains.>>>
    > >>
    > >Self-replication does not mean replication without any external help. It
    > >simply means that the existence of the replicator in its necessary venue
    > >tends to cause more copies of that replicator to exist in the future than
    > >there would be if it didn't exist in the present.
    > >
    > >Are we getting closer?
    > "Tends to cause" is darn close to Aaron's "Self." When you get down to
    > "existence of the replicator" being all you need, it is such a weak
    > requirement that I have no problem with it.

    Hi Keith.

    I have included an explicit definition of the word
    "replicator" in the current version of my paper "Units, Events, and Dynamics in the Evolutionary Epidemiology of Ideas" at . The definition reads, simply:

    REPLICATOR: An item whose instantiation depended critically on causation by prior instantiation of the same item.

    There is also some discussion of the role of abstractions, or sameness criteria, in deciding whether two things are
    "the same" and hence also in deciding if something has resulted from replication.

    Note that some instances of "the same item" may count as replicators and others not. In early precursors to life, there may have been some instances of a molecule whose instantiation depended on prior occurrence of the same molecule (as by catalysis), and other instances that formed by other processes. (The latter could be called
    "heteroderivative" in the terminology of my paper, and previous papers.) When replication happens often enough, the homoderivative instances come to predominate.

    Replicators of one type can also have co-replicators of another type, as when a belief and a chain-letter that imparts that belief co-propagate. On the other hand, the causal pathway from one instantiation of an idea to the next can also be lengthy and varied, without being dependent on just one single kind of artifactual or behavioral co-replicator. Parents may, for instance, use a method of leading their children to have a subjective experience of "discovering for themselves" what the parents
    "already knew." But if the idea that the parents "already knew" played a crucial causal role in leading the parents to lead their children to have a subjective experience of
    "discovering for themselves" the same idea, then the idea still counts as a replicator. This even if the idea is conveyed without explicit articulation or being represented in some artifactual information medium such as paper, computer disk, sculpture, etc. Causal analysis of the replicator and chain reaction replication events can still proceed in such cases.

    > What surprised me is that nobody corrected my accidentally mutated
    > meme. Probably because it is so well ingrained that you read it right
    > I had written it wrong.

    No problem. We have learned to play mutant baseball, and are inculcating others.

    > Keith Henson
    > >Richard Brodie

    --Aaron Lynch

    Thought Contagion Science Page:

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