Re: Replicator article

From: Liane Gabora (
Date: Fri 07 May 2004 - 02:46:20 GMT

  • Next message: Ray Recchia: "Re: Replicator article"

    No, sorry, you missed my point. I see what you mean that this phenomenon has something 'self-assembly-like' about it. But it is not a genuine self-assembly code of the sort that biological systems employ (neither is a radio signal that 'propagates' itself into lots of radios). The fact that biological evolution prohibits inheritance of acquired traits is not merely incidental. It is a deep manifestation of the division of labour in biological organisms (first recognized by von Neumann) between the
    *self-assembly code* which is actively deciphered to build a new replicant, and a *self-description* which is passively copied to the replicant. The paper will clarify this.


    At 12:17 7/05/2004 +1000, you wrote:
    >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
    >After all, when the highly 'successful' chain mail swept the world (by smail
    >: 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
    >: 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
    >For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    Liane Gabora
    <> Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies, VUB, Brussels Ph:
    (32)2.644.26.77 Psychology Department, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-1650 Ph: 510-642-1080

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