Re: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Prisoner's Dillema

Tim Rhodes (
Fri, 18 Apr 1997 15:53:13 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 18 Apr 1997, Drakir wrote:

> > What if you _can_ change the rules,
> > without waiting for everyone to lose?
> Do the players have any say? If not, then surely they wouldn't like the
> game. One must surely take into consideration whether the rules of a
> game are sensible before entering into it.

Okay, we're all in this game. It's not a question of entering or
defecting (unless you're Hamlet), it's about how we play it. The players
do have a say in the rules because that's what the game is all about,
shuffling though everyone elses rules and choosing which ones to apply.
That's the power of good(adaptive) memes, after all. They're just rules a
lot of people choose to use. And that's the value of increasing our
understanding of Memetics. It's understanding the meta-rules. The rules
by which we construct and chose other rules. If you want, you can call it
cheating, but it's no more cheating than understanding the odds of drawing
to an inside straight before you decide to go for the pair instead. And
simply put, we don't know the odds yet. Dawkins, and everyone since then
has said, in a way, "Yes there are odds and we can disover them." But we
haven't gotten on the stick yet. Sure, I know (following the analogy)
drawing to an inside straight is a long shot. But I don't know /how/ long
and I'm not going to go to Vegas and bet my life savings on guesses. Are
there any odds makers in the group? Or anyone with ideas how to arrive at
some usable odds?

-Prof. Tim (climbing down off the soapbox)