Sunday, July 15, 2007

Toaster Oven

"Great. She's a toaster oven.
Can we leave now?"

Cybernetic organism, Wynona Ryder in 'Alien Resurrection'

"Human-like consciousness is an illusion; that is, it exists but is not what it appears to be. The illusion that we are a conscious self having a stream of experiences is constructed when memes compete for replication by human hosts. Some memes survive by being promoted as personal beliefs, desires, opinions and possessions, leading to the formation of a memeplex (or selfplex). Any machine capable of imitation would acquire this type of illusion and think it was conscious. Robots that imitated humans would acquire an illusion of self and consciousness just as we do. Robots that imitated each other would develop their own separate languages, cultures and illusions of self. Distributed selfplexes in large networks of machines are also possible. Unanswered questions include what remains of consciousness without memes, and whether artificial meme machines can ever transcend the illusion of self consciousness."
-Susan Blackmore

Meme - a unit of cultural information, cultural evolution or diffusion — propagates from one mind to another analogously to the way in which a gene propagates from one organism to another as a unit of genetic information and of biological evolution. Multiple memes may propagate as cooperative groups called memeplexes (meme complexes).
Biologist and evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins coined the term meme in 1976.
He gave as examples tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothing fashions, ways of making pots, and the technology of building arches.
Meme theorists contend that memes evolve by natural selection similarly to Charles Darwin's theory of biological evolution through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance influencing an organism's reproductive success. So with memes, some ideas will propagate less successfully and become extinct, while others will survive, spread, and, for better or for worse, mutate. Memeticists argue that the memes most beneficial to their hosts will not necessarily survive; rather, those memes that replicate the most effectively spread best, which allows for the possibility that successful memes may prove detrimental to their hosts.
The idea of memes has proved a successful meme in its own right, gaining a degree of penetration into popular culture rare for an abstract scientific theory.
The ego self is a memeplex,
not an owner of a body/mind.

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