Re: Replicator article

From: Simon Taylor (
Date: Fri 07 May 2004 - 02:17:46 GMT

  • Next message: Liane Gabora: "Re: Replicator article"

    On Fri, 7 May 2004 02:22 am, you wrote:

    > Clearly ideas or memes do not consist of, as part of their information
    > content, self-assembly instructions (akin to genetic material), which get
    > carried out to form new copies. If they did, then for one thing,
    > inheritance of acquired characteristics would be prohibited.

    I think I understand what you're driving at, but isn't it perhaps true that memes rely on the replication instructions being acted on in the recipient's head?

    After all, when the highly 'successful' chain mail swept the world (by smail mail):

    : This is no joke. You will receive good luck in the mail. But no money.
    : Send copies to people you think need good luck. Don't send money as fate
    : has no price. Do not keep this message. This message must leave your hands
    : in 96 hrs.

    Instruction 1. Replicate me with-in 96 hrs

    : A United States Air Force Officer received 470,000 Dollars.
    : Another man received 40,000 Dollars and lost it because he broke the chain.

    Instruction 2. You are hereby threatened about the consequences of not replicating me ;-)

    : Whereas in the Philippines, Gene Welch lost his wife 51 days after
    : receiving the message. He failed to circulate the message. However, before
    : his death, he received 7,555,000 dollars.

    Instruction 3. Failure to comply is so serious that it will kill you - so devote all the resources you can to replicating me

    : Please send twenty copies and see what happen in four days.

    Instruction 4. Make exactly 20 copies of me...

    But I'm sure this is familiar ground, so I wont labor the point.

    I would argue that virus hoax email that implore you to:


    are another quite wonderful conmtempory example of this. (I love these bloody things... ;-)

    You are threatened:
    : As soon as the supposed virtual card is opened, the computer freezes so that
    : the user has to reboot. When the keys or the reset button are pressed, the
    : virus destroys Sector Zero, thus permanently destroying the hard disk.

    And then given some replication instructions:
    : Please pass this mail to all of your friends. Forward this to everyone in
    : your address book. I'm sure most people, like myself, would rather receive
    : this 25 times than not at all.

    So would you argue that these are special cases of memes that do consist of self-assembly instructions, and that most other memes don't, or have I missed your point.


    Simon Taylor

    Unisolve Pty Ltd - Melbourne, Australia
    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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