virus: Philogeny, ontogeny and personality uploads

Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko (
Thu, 23 Nov 1995 22:16:46 -0500

We all know well that in the development of an organism,
"ontogeny recapitulates philogeny" - as we went through both processes.
The reasons are also apparent - sometimes it makes sense to repeat the
evolutionary steps, and at some other times the process just doesn't make
the effort to streamline itself. In many cases, of course, it's neither - and
those steps are not repeated.

It appears that this pattern goes beyond the biological evolution.
For example, the development of scientific concepts (and many other skills
and abilities) of a growing person resembles the historical progress of science
to about the extent that the fetuses growth recapitulates biological

Now if we look at how parts of human personality are transfered into more
dynamic and durable - and increasingly sophisticated - substrates, we can
observe the same picture: the ability of growing people to launch increasingly
complex patterns of themselves into the environment follows, to a degree,
the historical advances of such methods - from leaving simple physical traces
to sharing mental patterns through speech to putting larger ideas into external
medium (writing) to launching thought-shaped reactive systems (programming).

How would you like the idea of a future post-human personality starting out
as a unicellular biological body (or an emulation of it) and then going through
a quick succession of all [mock-up] evolutionary stages, changing structures,
goals, and substrates multiple times on the way?

Also, how easy is it to figure out whether you are going through a philogenic
or an ontogenic process, whether your current stage is important, lies on the
evolutionary frontier and is responsible for further development, or it's an
environment-guided make-believe stage? Probably, the guided process
should appear more meaningful than the "natural" one; so it seems that our
life is definitely real ;-) It may be not that easy though - as the
processes tend to go beyond one's understanding, the growing body is not
really qualified to assess the sense and guidance of the environment.
The opinions of a small child and a Neanderthal about whether and how
well their lives are guided by superior entities may be strikingly similar...

Alexander Chislenko --- --- Cambridge, MA
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