Mario: Analog Feedback and Ringing

Timothy Perper/Martha Cornog (
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 16:39:45 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 16:39:45 -0500
From: (Timothy Perper/Martha Cornog)
Subject: Mario: Analog Feedback and Ringing

>Dave Pape wrote:
>> >1.) The idea that cells are the true self-replicators is empirical. If
>> >you put cells in the proper medium, you get more of them.
>> >Cells turn out to be the smallest units that self-replicate.
>> >Cells, however, do appear to be some kind of complicated emergent from the
>> >Earth's organic chemistry, at least at one period long ago.
>> Okay... I think there's theories out there [oh good /citations/, Dave!]
>> about DNA precursors being things like... nucleotide chains linking on
>> crystalline clay molecules, and other complicated but non-biological
>> chemical reactions, all of which have this property of autocatalysis.
>> Meaning that >= 1 of the products of the reaction set catalyses... its own
>> production.
>Well, indeed there are such theories. They are a nice illustration of
>our obsession for DNA and gene centered life. Some people look at it
>the other way around and say that DNA only came in later, after cells
>(which had no nucleotides whatsoever) had developed. I am already quite
>convinced (from observable analogies between how culture is evolving and
>early biology) that this is indeed the case. If you take the point of
>view of information it it obvious that there was first processing
>(enzymatic and cellular activity) and then code (RNA and DNA).
>Similarly, in culture there were first perceptions and behaviours, which
>could later be encoded in words, not the other way around.

TP: I tend very much to agree.

>> I'd say that such systems are like the audio feedback system I described.
>> There's a self-referential system, from which an apparently self-replicating
>> emergent... erm... emerges [sorry- not enough synonyms. Was trying to avoid
>> saying "skanks forth" :)]. It's the feedback thing that's the apparent
>> self-replicator... only it's actually a very tight self-reference in the
>> And I'm thinking that if cells require a medium, that's like saying they're
>> a thing, more of which is produced by self-reference in an autocatalytic
>> system composed of /the medium plus the cells/.
>> Thus, current chemistry, including biological chemistry, would /still/ be
>> the working of the autocatalytic chemical system that was bootstrapping
>> before DNA, and cells, were on the scene. Cells are STILL an emergent of
>> autocatalytic (read self-referential) chemical processes.
>Yes (but only biological chemistry). As I said, biology (life) could be
>considered as a single giant chemical process which took off some 4
>billion years ago when some chemical reactions hooked into each other.

TP: The oneness of the universe all over again. ;-)

There is a parallel in quantum mechanics (QM), from David Bohm as I
remember (it's the library in the head again, Mario!). He proposed that in
theory one could write one single HUGE Schrodinger equation for everything
that exists, and QM would now lead us to say that everything depends
essentially on everything else. I have always liked this idea.

I might point out that *Platonic* memes -- by which I mean those memes that
some people on this list are proposing exist as unobservables, and yet are
Real in the Platonic or idealist sense -- are distinctly entities from
classical and not quantum physics. In fact, such memes have a 19th century
feel about them, for they offer an ontological certainty that disappeared
in physics around 1925.

The QM version of memetics would be interesting -- if you "observe" a meme,
that is, "think" it, then the meme changes. This viewpoint implies that
the meme *cannot* exist independently of the thinker, and that neither is
in control.

I don't know how Mario feels about such things, but I suspect that QM needs
to be considered seriously by memeticists.

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