Table of Contents

(This is a work-in-progress page).

See Biological Notes on The Vehicles for my current musings on meme-engine algorithms for cognition.

Go read The Selfish Gene if you have not done so yet.

Seriously, do it.

It is not accidental that I call this blog faster than light memes.

The concept of the meme has intrigued me and many others.

The Selfish Gene is a book that introduces a perspective, Genes Eye View of Evolution (Dawkins 1976). Introducing perspective might be the most powerful kind of knowledge.

With a happy little conceptual jump, Dawkins applies the perspective to mental content and discovers the memes.

Notable works on memetics:

The Beginning of Infinity, David Deutch

Deutsch fleshes out the existence of 2 classes of memes that he calls rational and non-rational.

A fascinating read, with a red thread through scientific inquiry, why flowers are beautiful, ethical truths, the nature of the universe and the fate of civilization. Big history.

The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore

Blackmore lays out some memetic concepts, Copy-the-product, Copy-the-instructions,

introduces the term Memeplex (Wikipedia), a term that comes from genetics geneplex. In memetics, we can play the game of reasoning by analogy to genes.

Blackmore goes on to describe a meme's eye view of how culture and the brain evolved. And makes hypotheses about how music, language and other aspects of cognition, especially social cognition might be explained by memetic processes.

Also big on how memes might become the driver of genetic evolution.

Daniel Dennett's recent work

For instance, From Bacteria to Back and Back.

Dennett is an exceptionally clear thinker. He shows how memetics fits as a nice model for how religions work.

He is pointing out the power of good ideas, the most powerful ones he calls intuition pumps.

He makes the analogy of computer virtual machines to how minds work. Meaning that on some level of the hierarchy, the underlying working of the mind are abstracted away enough so any idea fits on any brain, the same way the Java Virtual Machine abstracts about different operating systems.

download memetic applets to your neck top.

This idea ties into Blackmores Meme Machine, where she hypothesizes that the genetics that makes brains suitable for memes where selected for.

An evolutionary driver for making brains that have the infrastructure of having ideas, without specifying the contents of the ideas.

Naively, content is the memes like software is to hardware.

One thing I think Dennett gets wrong is that much of his theorizing is about person-jumping memes.

I think it is important to notice that memes can reproduce and live within a single mind and I always felt like Dennett was ignoring this idea for some reason.

The strongest example I can come up with is a personal rumination or some such. This is a memeplex that might never be replicated in another mind but reproduces itself again and again within one mind.

But of course, once you think of it this way, then maybe much of the machinery of the mind is assembled, in part, darwinistically.

Why this blog is called Faster Than Light Memes

Replicating information, and ideas are the real deal of what the universe is about.

The difference between humans and other animals is our ideas. Humanity is the memes, more than it is about the biological substrate carrying them.

It is the memes that allow us to go to the moon - In spite of our biology, not thanks to our biology.

David Deutsch has recently described his philosophy nicely on the Tim Ferriss Show.

As civilizations become more advanced, it is knowledge and ideas that are the driving force behind what happens in the universe.

Consider a meteor flying towards Earth. Newtonian physics predicts an impact. But because of civilization, it might be deflected.

Eventually, ideas will have the power to create, transform and destroy stars and galaxies.

Dawkins mentions the memes are currently still clumsily floating around in their primordial soup.

Once we start doing things like converting all reachable matter into computronium1, it will be the descendants of our ideas that will shape the universe.

If we should find ways to go faster than light, the memes will spread faster than light through the universe.

The title of my blog is just a hopeful wish, that the axiological potential of humanity is greater by a factor of x because if you go faster than light you can reach more of the universe.

Of course, we, the memes, might figure out something more useful than populating the universe. Like making ourselves smaller and smaller or something.

Faster Than Light is just a phrase underlining the idea of potentially spreading in the universe.

Going faster than light or even spreading in the universe is not necessarily a goal - maximizing human flourishing is.



A hypothetical optimal configuration of matter for doing computation.

Date: 2023-05-18 Thu 18:57

Email: Benjamin.Schwerdtner@gmail.com