February 5, 2013 § Leave a comment
Image credit: Flickr user goosmurf
Homo sapiens sapiens is one of many fascinating life forms on this planet. There is a widespread belief among themselves that they are in some respect qualitatively different from other life forms, and although this assumption is groundless there are indeed some curious observations that can be made about homo sapiens sapiens.
One of these curiosities is their communication. While communication itself is not remarkable, theirs has come to exhibit so potent properties that it’s set to overtake the unimaginably long1 reign of DNA as the supreme information bearer. The DNA copying process is very accurate, and storage density is high, but improvements in the DNA code form over centuries or millennia — and those are small changes. On the other hand, memes communicated through the languages of homo sapiens sapiens can (1) replicate rapidly through different media, (2) be easily changed and combined with other memes, (3) be stored over time in brains, texts, computers and other media.
Memes as such are not necessarily limited to this species, but their advanced communication enables them to spread very powerful memes — replicating ones.
To be fair, the transfer of power to this new king of replicators has been ongoing for thousands of years, but only more recently has the king been able to consolidate its standing. Where this development will take the species is simply unknown. Perhaps descendants of the memetic replicators will, in a far future, find the tracks leading back to the 21st century and realize that they were preceded by another replicator. Or perhaps they will
live replicate in symbiosis.
It will surely take many generations more for memetic evolution to make DNA a second-class replicator, but the time will come.
1. Millions or billions of years — for our purposes, it matters not.