Re: virus: Re: virus-digest V2 #37
Mon, 17 Feb 1997 16:48:21 -0600 (CST)

On Wed, 12 Feb 1997, Reed Konsler wrote:

> >From: Dave Pape <>
> >Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 12:57:56 GMT
> >Subject: virus: Inter-species memetic transfer


> >I'm pushing this non-human memes point because I see that more implicit
> >barriers have been put in place:
> >
> >1 Memes are a human thing
> >
> >2 Memes are linguistic
> This I agree with. Meme is a "soft" concept. It means different things to
> different people.


> How many memes do we have that correspond to actual "facts" we know and how
> many correspond to "addresses" where we can find information at will? If
> these databanks aren't human do they contain memes? What if you use
> alta-vista...does the computer contain distinction memes? In what sense is
> it different (other than feasability) if you have the computer or a person
> do a keyword search?
> If your spell-checker respells something you screwed that a
> distinction-meme? What kinds of functions are best abdicated to
> automations? As automations become more sophisticated don't you think we
> will have to recognize some of their functions as properly cognitive...even
> before a true AI is developed? They already remember things, sort and
> transmit information, we trust them to monitor systems and control
> elevators.
> Word 6 has a grammar checker which kindly informs me that me scientific
> communications are written in the "passive tense" and that this is poor
> rhetorical form. Is my computer not using proper distinction memes? The
> spell checker, however, is a little more convenient: I can teach it that
> "diastereoselective" is, indeed, a word. Am I teaching it?
> People use cognitive aids all the time: computers, watches, day-timers,
> these things think, even a little?
> I'll tip the answer. We do not commonly perceive thse objects as thinking
> because we do not perceive them as possessing "will" and thus do not relate
> to them using (from Dennett) the intentional stance. It is the human using
> them that possesses will or intent, and is thus by extrapolation the host
> of memes.

This perception doesn't match *my* map [as evidenced by some of my other

I am confident that both the grammar checker and the spell checker you
mentioned actually think. Unless you have vastly more advanced versions
than I do, they don't give empirical evidence of mimicking the concept of
"will", let alone "free will".

> Here is the contradiction. Memes are only centered in those objects that
> have apparent intentionality. However, many proponents of memetics believe
> this concept undermines the ideal of will. There is therefore no obvious
> reason not to refer to memes in books, computers, or dogs.
> If memes are really just information then I think this concept of
> humanistic memes is a throw back to ancient ideas of the primacy of our
> species...many of which have been refuted in detail but remembered in
> essence. We are all God's children, one way or another...
> On the other hand, we could re-examine this idea of "free will" and see if
> we can bring new life to it. In other words: is there come cognitive facet
> of the mind outside of memes?

I'll want to concretize metaphysics to test this....

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