Re: virus: What is meant by "memes affecting genes"?
Wed, 16 Oct 1996 23:51:22 -0500 (CDT)

On Wed, 16 Oct 1996, Lior Golgher wrote:

> Kenneth Boyd wrote:
> > On Sat, 12 Oct 1996, David Leeper wrote:
> >> The reverse idea, that memes effect genes, is called the Baldwin Effect. This idea is a little
> >> more radical. In fact, it's only resently resurfaced after decades of neglect because some
> >> experiments in Artifical Life seem to indicate that the Baldwin Effect actually exists and can
> >> be measured.
> > The Baldwin effect should occur in physical reality. It's simply a
> > selective process based on social/memetic criteria instead of physical
> > criteria. I have a very hard time believing that a social/memetic
> > criterion cannot show up in the transmission ratios, although it should
> > take a less extreme example than WWII to demonstrate.
> Two possible interpretation to "memes effect genes":
> 1. The actual content of memes is saved into genetic information. Which means for example that a British kid is
> born with British memes in his mind, transferred to him through his D.N.A.. Those memes require an external
> intensification in order to survive, but they already exist in the off-spring. A possible variation of this -
> Dormant memes transferred genetically, which erupt in the mind of the off-spring in a certain biological period
> and\or due to certain external conditions. A variation of that claim is expressed in Frank Herbert's Dune saga,
> especially in Duncan Idaho's various G'ola [sp?]. Though this interpretation contains both a racist and a
> deterministic aspect, I'm not sure if we can scientifically refute it with our current knowledge in genetics.
> 2. Memes effect our selection of mates, thereby effecting the genetical information of our off-springs. Which
> means for example that a British kid is likely to have red hair because of a dominant "red hair is beautiful"
> meme spread throughout the British isles. That claim is logical.
> Now, which of those interpretations is claimed by the Baldwin Effect?

Good point! I was definitely thinking of V.2. V.1 would be more
popular in the New Age/occult section.

The current experiments in artificial life [computer-based] may permit
V.1, even if biological life does not. To me, computer programs are very
similar to memes in apparent functioning. They are radically divergent
from DNA in apparent functioning.

I am convinced that a computer (with almost any active software) has
most, if not all, of the functional aspects of a mind. I do not define
'self-awareness' or 'consciousness' as a functional aspect of a mind.

/ Towards the conversion of data into information....
/ Kenneth Boyd