Re: Copying, imitation, transformation, replication

Aaron Lynch (
Wed, 16 Sep 1998 11:37:54 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 11:37:54 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Copying, imitation, transformation, replication
In-Reply-To: <>

At 08:30 AM 9/16/98 +0200, Mario Vaneechoutte wrote:
>Aaron Lynch wrote:
>> At 09:17 AM 9/15/98 +0200, Mario Vaneechoutte wrote:
>> >
>> >I should disagree here. Genes are replicated without transformation. Just
>> like
>> >printed texts are. That, together with the fact that both (genes and
>> texts) are
>> >physical entities and that both have unlimited informational content
>> >pottery), is the reason why I would consider the true analogy of memes and
>> genes
>> >to be outside of our mind.
>> Mario,
>> I'd refer you to section 15 of my paper to see just what I am talking about
>> in relation to genes. When we say that a "gene" is copied, we do not mean
>> that a DNA molecule's tertiary structure is copied, for instance. This
>> means that the molecule can look quite different under the microscope. Nor
>> do we usually mean that its methylations are copied. We especially do not
>> mean that its placement of different isotopes is copied. Nor its
>> vibrational states, rotational states, locations of dissociated H+, etc. It
>> is always with respect to some system of abstractions that an entity is
>> "copied." We have decided that the most useful system of abstractions with
>> respect to which we discern gene "copying" is the one centered on several
>> nucleotide bases.
>I only claim that you can copy the same informational content using a simple
>processor like a press or a polymerase, without transformation of the
>information. When I hear a word, this observation will lead to several
>transformation in my mind before I eventually can utter a noise which can
>the same informational content to others. Having materially encoded
>as in nucleotide strands or as on sheets of paper no such transformation is
>Of course, I am not talking about the molecule, I am referring to the
>of information in these molecules or texts.

Another way to phrase what I am saying, Mario, is that what we choose to
identify or not identify as the "information" in the molecule is a function
of the abstraction system used for doing so. One could, for instance,
devise a scheme for encoding useful information in the patterns of isotopes
in the DNA strand. It could then be "information rich" even if it consisted
of all adenosine bases. In actual life, we have found that the abstraction
system centered on bases is more useful, however.

When finding "information" in an uttered word, we are again (perhaps
automatically) focusing on some qualities of the sound and not others. It
is a "pattern" of "phonemes" that we count, and not, for instance, the
sound's absolute volume, duration, ultrasound components, etc. The word
"meme" spoken by two different people is only "the same" with respect to a
system of abstractions. You need some kind of abstraction system, even an
innate or deeply ingrained one, just to determine that there is not
"transformation" (departure from sameness) of "information."

With printed pages, we again use abstract criteria to determine "sameness"
or "transformation" of "information." We do not, for instance, focus on the
orientation of fibers in the paper. If the ink color differs, then the
"information" might be the same with respect to a purely alphabetical
abstraction system, but different with respect to an alphabet-color
abstraction system.

--Aaron Lynch

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