Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Artificial Ape

Memes provably don't exist. Technological development is too complex to be explained by Darwinian like evolution.


  1. I would argue that memes simply don't make sense.

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  4. "Is human technology really any different from, say, a bird's nest, a spider's web or a beaver's dam?

    Some biologists argue that human culture and technology is simply an extension of biological behaviours and in that sense humans are like hermit crabs or spiders. That's an idea known as "niche adaptation". I see human technology as different because of the notion of entailment. A number of philosophers and social anthropologists have argued that the realm of artifice has its own logic - an idea that traces back to Kant's idea of the autonomy of the aesthetic realm. Philosophy, art history and paleoanthropology have to all come together for us to understand who we are.

    The point is, the realm of artificial things - that is, technology - has a different generative pattern than the Darwinian pattern of descent with modification. People like to argue that you can apply Darwinian selection to, say, industrial design. That led Richard Dawkins to propose and Susan Blackmore to develop the "meme" idea - cultural analogues of genes that are not biological but they are still replicators and follow the basic logic of biological evolution.

    I would argue that memes simply don't make sense. And the reason is that when you look at an artificial object like a chair, for instance, there is no central rule that defines it. There is no way to draw a definite philosophical boundary and say, here are the characteristics that are both necessary and sufficient to define a chair. The chair's meaning is linguistic and symbolic - a chair is a chair because we intend for it to be a chair and we use it in a particular way. Artificial objects are defined in terms of intention and entailment - and that makes artificial things very different from biological things." See newscientist link