Re: virus: Virus Lexicon, etc

David McFadzean (
Fri, 07 Apr 1995 15:49:09 -0600

At 10:42 AM 4/7/95 -0600, Duane Daniel Hewitt wrote:
>complex. Viruses may be transferred between species (Flu viruses often
>are endemic in swine populations and emerge to infect humans) and the
>same could be said for memes.

Which memes have transferred between species?

>> I think complexity is a necessary condition for adaptability.
>Is it? There are simple mechanisms that can increase adaptability (eg.
>reduce mutation repair rate) and there are more complex ones
>(intelligence). I think that we should examine what definition of
>adaptability we are using.

I was talking about the adaptability of an individual, not a species.
I am assuming that complexity is a necessary condition because how else
would you explain the rise of complexity in the evolution of life on Earth?

>Does a virus predict how it will take over a cell? Or are you meaning
>that at a systemic level the inputs from the virus have a specific effect
>that allows it to propagate and thus there is a selection for system A
>(the virus) being able to control system B (the cell) in the most efficient

Yes, a virus doesn't predict the cell's behaviour in the same sense that
humans predict behaviour (consciously). They do predict behaviour to the
extent that information about the cell is stored in the makeup of the
virus (which may be little or none, I don't know).

>Is control solely a function of understanding?

No, you may understand a system very well but if you have no ability
to affect the system's control variables, you have no control over that

>Yes, I remember this article now. It important not to get to caught up
>defending the indefensible. It is better to make your assumptions and
>operate on them until something causes you to check your premises.

Actually I think it is worthwhile to check your assumptions more often
than that. I think this dilemma (exploration vs. exploitation) is modelled
by the 2-armed bandit thought experiment. We should have a page on that
(and the prisoner's dilemma, of course). Very useful memes, both.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer                Merak Projects Ltd.