Re: virus: Rationality

Alex Williams (
Sun, 2 Mar 1997 17:25:40 -0500 (EST)

> We can do both. The engineering part of our makeup can pursue the
> engineering problems and the theorist part can do what he's into. Both
> need to check back with each other every so often to monitor progress
> and assimilate but neither will get very far if they're constantly
> trying to explain themselves.

I'm just that nagging voice at the back of the collective memetics'
head that keeps bringing it up, always at just the worst time. Double
checking that we know which assumptions we're making, where, and why
they're present.

> This is good. Although even this can be broken down to the three steps
> (oh there...are three...steps to heaven..wah,wah,wah) of encode,
> transmit (I know you hate that word but I can't think of a better one),
> decode.

I don't have any problem with `transmit' as applied to what we've been
calling "signal," its saying that /memes/ are transmitted that I'm
against. If it were actually /memes/ being transmitted, we would see
behaviour different from that observed. (For one thing, fragmentary
memes don't fit into the memetic environment, so memes would either be
transferred correctly or not at all. Misunderstandings would spring
/only/ from the incorrect phrasing on the transmitter's end or
mutation of the memes on the recipients' side, not misparsing, but
actual changes in memes that had been transferred just as sender
intended. We actually /see/ rather noisy media being interpreted into
memes by recipients, so its clear the idea that memes can be
transmitted is incomplete.)

> You seem to be looking for a physical adjoining, which in biological
> terms is fair enough because biology deals with physical things.
> Memetics deals with information so perhaps we should look for a more
> ethereal adjoining. A place where pieces of information bump up against
> each other.

If one can look at Gaian literature and accept the level of
abstraction that makes us all into one huge organism, I suppose that
one can look at memetics from the level of pure information organisms.
However, that's been the traditional view of memetics to date; I like
tackling things from new and ever more perverse points of view.

> I don't see that it necessitates discarding the biological model.

Just like language can have various abstractions accepted for various
degrees of error checking, so too with models. :)