Re: Replicators, was Non Homuncular Memetics

Mark Mills (
Wed, 8 Oct 97 15:18:51 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Replicators, was Non Homuncular Memetics
Date: Wed, 8 Oct 97 15:18:51 -0600
From: Mark Mills <>
To: memetics list <>

Aaron writes:

>Classes of replicators can be defined in terms of their material
>(information storage) substrates, but this does not rule out
>isomorphisms between the systems of abstractions used to describe
>the replicators.

I like your focus on substrates and isomorphisms.

The warning about isomorphisms between substrate class is intriguing. It
brings up the issue of 'performance' in regards to 'replication.' We use
a statistical inference about system performance whenever we talk about
replication. For example, one copies a computer file from one hard drive
to another via network cable. At the user level, the 'file' has been
replicated at the end of the 'copy' operation. Successful 'replication'
is tested by 'operating' the file. If it works, replication has taken
place. At the physical level (magnetic coating of hard drive plate), no
replication has occurred. The 'copy' function makes no attempt to place
the file in particular harddrive sectors. A physical copy is sometimes
used for backup requirements, but never for simple file copies. This too
is judged a success based on system performance under specific test

Thus, whenever we talk about replication, we are relying upon some sense
of 'system' definition, and testing technique (circumstance, frequency
domain and performance standards). Sometimes these are explicit, other
times, they are left unspoken. I suspect some of the difficulty we face
here is a lack of consensus upon these sometimes unspoken assumptions.

>Still, the lack of isomorphism between DNA replicating in paired
>chromosomes and memes replicating in brains...

Based on the above, I suspect our assumptions about system definition and
testing differ considerably.


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