Re: information transmission

SOC MicroLab 2, UEA, Norwich (
Thu, 18 Mar 1999 13:11:14 GMT

Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 13:11:14 GMT
From: "SOC MicroLab 2, UEA, Norwich" <>
Subject: Re: information transmission

> This brings up the important problem of 'inherited
knowledge.' For this
> process to work, the baby must be born with some ability
to interpret
> tokens in a useful way for both mother and baby. If the
baby cannot
> 'properly' interpret the tokens, everyone becomes unhappy.
Problems may
> exist in the 'sensing' capabilities (blindness or
deafness), but they may
> also exist on the psychological level (autism). If autism
exists, there
> might be a lack of 'inherited' knowledge or a lack of
focus (baby doesn't
> know to focus on momma).

It sounds like you are invoking something akin to Chomsky's
language acquisition device (LAD) here, which can fit well
with evolutionary theory, i think (it's quite
straightforward to imagine how it evolves, too). However, it
all goes a bit pear-shaped when you say:

> Thus, the token model of information flow requires a
substantial amount
> of inherited knowledge to provide a foundation for our
consciousness to
> emerge.
> With this in mind, I'll claim we inherit memes. They are
not transmitted
> from person to person. We are born with them. As we
mature, our memes
> are molded by our experiences.
> Mark

This is all very well, but it isn't memetics. The kind of
evolution you're invoking here is longitudinal (that is
'down' from one generation from the next) like genetics.
Yes, some information does get passed on longitudinally, and
it's possible that this knowledge is inherited "physically"
- perhaps like the LAD. But what makes memetics interesting
- infact it's the main premise of memetics - is that
information *can* get passed horizontally. We know that
ideas get passed from person to person (in a way unlike
longitudinal passing of information) and we are trying to
look for a plausible algorithm for that phenomenon.

If you are saying that "information" of all kinds exists in
some Platonic form in people's heads, and the way
information pools differ from person to person is that
information gets moulded by people's experiences, then:

The stuff that we call memetics concerns the phenomena (the
tokens, or whatever you want to call them) that are doing
the moulding, that are actually being passed from person to
person horizontally - these are the memes.

In other words the token of the burnt finger the mother
passes to the baby *is the meme* - and what we are looking
at is how these memes get transmitted, and why sometimes
they are succesful, and sometimes they are not.

cheers, alex rousso.

This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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