Re: On influencing factors

Mark Mills (
Mon, 9 Nov 98 11:34:34 -0600

Subject: Re: On influencing factors
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 98 11:34:34 -0600
From: Mark Mills <>
To: "Memetics List" <>
Message-Id: <>


>I don't want to wait until 2045 to do memetics, I want
>to do it now. So consequently we have to forget neurons and look at
>behaviour/artefacts etc.

This sums it up pretty well.

You are in too much of a hurry to consider neurons. I wish you luck.

You are not really disagreeing with me. You are just putting off a
change of heart. What do you want to do in 2045, when the secrets of
the neural system are understood? Toss out 45 years of memetics? Do you
think researchers in 2045 are going to be kind to your work?

I do not share your concern for instant success. IHMO, the term 'meme'
will contribute value only if we consider neurons and the genetic model.
It is the only thing we are doing that is unique.

If a researcher is looking at behavior without considering neurons, it is
going to be hard to find a use for memetics terminology. Anthropology,
sociology and psychology have been doing fine without looking at neurons.
They are quite able to handle the math regarding epidemiology without
resorting to 'memes' or neurons.

Aside from making memetics useful, the neural perspective offers an
invitation to all the artificial intelligence researchers. The neural
foundation is far less dependent of arbitrary definitions that limit who
can contribute.

I don't think we will have to wait until 2045 for neural research to
reach the level of meme. If one is looking for memetics in neural
systems, it makes good sense study simple neural systems, snails and sea
slugs, etc. There is quite a bit that can be done with these simple
organisms using available technology.

Personally, I think a memetics founded on neurology will offer insights
into the evolutionary trajectory of the Internet. I have a great deal of
interest in this. My hunch is that memes are the expression of
self-organization within neural systems, just as genes are an expression
of self-organization at the molecular level. If the net is an extension
of our neural systems, the same self-organizing features will probably
develop at the new level of interconnectedness.

In conclusion, I don't see any significant advantage to ignoring the
neural foundations of memetics. There is no denying the role of the
neural system in memetics. Without a neural system, cultural evolution
doesn't happen. If we are going to establish a foundation that
researchers are willing to invest their careers upon, it needs a firmer
basis than the expediency expressed in 'I don't want to wait until 2045.'


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