A brand new replicator in the making?

From: Philip Jonkers (P.A.E.Jonkers@phys.rug.nl)
Date: Fri Jun 15 2001 - 14:51:44 BST

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    Subject: A brand new replicator in the making?
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    Has anybody from this group already ponder the question:

    Is there a new, third, kind of replicator in the making?

    Well, I contend it will be one with an electronic origin.
    The new replicator will emerge as soon as the new generation of computers
    - based on neural networks - gain sufficient grounds to start spawning
    their own self-sufficient software-programs, the primary goal of artificial
    intelligence as far as I know. Unlike memes and genes which are only
    approximately independent of each other (I like to call this,
    quasi-independent), this replicator will have a truly independent character.
    Analogous to the meme's eye view of memes `struggling' with fellow memes
    to be adopted by brains, in this new breed of replicators
    auto-generated programs will compete with other programs
    of similar functionality to acquire residence within computer
    storage-facilities (`computer-brains').

    It is not that hard to show that AI programs easily qualify to be
    replicators. To do this the new replicator must satisfy the basic criteria
    of Universal Darwinism: heredity, variability and selection.
    For brevity's sake, I will refer to the third replicator simply
    as the `thene' to carry the notion of a third replicator and to honour
    our beloved first replicator, the `gene'. Through the near perfect
    robust storage facility inherent of computers, thenes satisfy sufficient
    heredity. Thenes also feature variability as they can easily be modified
    by the then automated process of reprogramming existing versions of
    thenes (quite analogous to the formative process of ever more new versions
    of existing human-programmed software, such as is testified by the sorry
    series of Windows: 95,98,2000). Selective competitive pressures also come
    naturally since the number of hosts to accommodate thenes typically are
    much lower in number than the number of competing thenes. Thenes thus have to
    compete with other memes for adoption.

    So does AI-technology promise a brand new breed of replicators, or
    did I make a glaring error in my line of argument?

    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)
    see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit

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