RE: Memes are Interactors

Ton Maas (
Thu, 30 Apr 1998 11:17:52 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102800b16deeb61160@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 11:17:52 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: RE: Memes are Interactors

Josip wrote:
>Thank you for these examples Zoom. This is much like to what is happening
>with PC's. The computer you bought two years ago is now obsolete (slow,
>low on memory) so you are "forced" to buy a new one in order to be able to
>run any of the new SW packages on the market.
>Stanislaw Lem wrote in his book "Summa Technologiae" (III edition, 1974)
>that the first sign of an imminent dead of some kind of systems
>(technology) is their growth to such extents that are hard to control
>efficiently. He gave the examples of the dinosaurs, zeppelins, steam
>engines. We can see other examples in: the Roman (British) and other
>empires, or even in the Large Scale Integration technology of transistors.
>As I see, quality is the "quantity" of freedom a species (technology)
>allows for the creation of its particular entities (individuals). If this
>freedom is greater (but not too much to make the system unstable) its
>individuals will search for survival solutions in a broader space, so
>there is a bigger chance that they (and their species itself) will
>survive. On the other hand, species that do not allow such extents of
>individual freedom must rely on their quantity in order to survive. Such
>individuals are more "rigid", they are not flexible and adaptable like
>those that have more freedom, thus they are more susceptible to
>environmental changes. Only their great number (quantity) can assure that
>some of them will survive environmental catastrophes and continue the

This sits well with the evolutionary scheme that was laid out by Anthony
Wilden, based on Gregory Bateson's Double Bind theory. The idea is that
organisms and species are "tempted" to maximize adaptation by allowing
certain variables (such as size) too close to lethal values, thereby
"eating up" the flexibility they might need in the future. Ultimately they
end up in a double bind, where each remain option is as lethal as the
other. Individual organisms of a dying species may choose various options,
but the end result is the same. Carroll saw this and worked out the
dynamics in his wonderful bread-and-butterfly. The gnat explains to Alice
that this animal has two very thin slices of bread for wings and a lump of
sugar for a head. Since it's favourite food is weak tea with cream in it,
Alice sees a problem, both when the animal _does_ find its food _and_ when
it doesn't. And indeed, as the gnat explains, it _always_ dies. Bateson
used to point out how traditional zoologists run into problems when asked
to explain the 5 pound femur that is "floating" in a fat layer of a twenty
ton blue whale. They call it a "rudiment" and predict that it will
completely disappear in time. According to his own branch of biology the
femur might fulfill a vital balancing function in terms of preservation of


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