RE: Machiavellian Memes

N Rose (
Tue, 30 Sep 1997 09:47:50 +0000

Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 09:47:50 +0000
From: N Rose <>
Subject: RE: Machiavellian Memes

Tim Wrote:
>Sorry, I think I missed the previous whinings.

The whinging I refer to is back some way on this discussion list

>I'm wondering if the "memetic predispositions which arise as the
>brain becomes enculturated" is the key.

>If the meme "expose yourself to memes you deem useful according
>to criteria X" is a part of that enculturation, it would seem
>(IMHO) that the host would select for what were perceived as
>"useful" memes as a result. If "criteria X" in part labeled
>"useful" memes as memes that enabled the host to better choose
>which memes were, in fact,... well,... "useful", it would seem
>that this bootstrapping process would go on to create a sort of
>Meme Selection Review Committee (MSRS) in the host with ever
>more and more autonomous powers. At some point this emergent
>property, the MSRS, might even take on the look of what we call
>"consciousness" and its self-selecting qualities seem like
>something we could easily label as "will". The freedom of that
>will being a function of how far the bootstrapping process has
>gone towards developing the MSRS into internally driven agent

Hmmm... Does the host select for memes perceived as useful?
What does that mean - what is useful? - what is it useful for?
and for what/whom?. Others might argue that 'usefulness' is
neither here nor there. Memes don't survive and replicate
because they are useful - but simply because they are good at
replicating. Perhaps by 'useful' you mean biologically adaptive?
In which case I might cautiously agree with you (somedays).

I like the term Meme Selection Review Committee. The MSRC(!) you
refer to sounds a little like a conglomeration of 'filters'
which Dennett refers to. The way in which these filters develop
will start with genetic predispositions in the brain (exclusively
to begin with); e.g. avoid pain, seek out things that taste
sweet, etc. But, as memes come to inhabit the brain we could
imagine them starting to form up filters as well; e.g. 'believe
everything written in the bible', 'ignore everything written in
The Sun'. Perhaps these memetic based filters could develop
autonomy from the original genetic predispositions (but I doubt
it). Perhaps this conglomeration of filters even forms up part
of what we *call* a 'self with free will'.

e.g. "I avoid painful things. I like chocolate. I believe
everything I read in the Bible is true. I ignore stories in the
tabloids. - That's "me" that is. That's "my" conscious choice -
An exertion of "my" free will"

But, (IMHO) it's not *really* the action of a self with free
will, but simply a conglomeration of filters.


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