Re: Memes and Kemes (spoilers for Benford)

Anders Sandberg (
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 12:14:50 +0200 (MET DST)

On Thu, 24 Jul 1997, Mark Crosby wrote:

> That wasnít really a spoiler because thereís a diagram right up front
> in the book that shows this hierarchy of intelligences ;-)

Yes, that was a slight give-away :-) When I saw it, I got quite
curious about what those high-level things were, and Benford didn't
dissapoint me.

> Iím not sure these would be predatory memes in the sense of eating.
> Itís probably more a situation of control levels as in cybernetics.

Yes, they are like the metasystems of Principia Cybernetica. Just as
an ant can't understand an anthill, a meme (or set of memes) can't
understand a keme.

> I wonder, though, whether intelligence and ignorance arenít both
> scalable. Where we are intelligent, Benford's so-called "Highers" know
> nothing, and vice versa. This culminates in the deterministic dictum
> of the Syntony: "Know this: All matters known to you further the
> affairs of the lesser levels, to our wishes. We do not negotiate. We
> do not dictate. We cause to happen."

I got the impression that the Syntony behaved in a fairly haughty
manner simply to get the right reactions from the humans. It might
have suited their purposes to make the humans look down on them. If
they had been awed by the Syntony they might have ended up as just
another group of followers, which would not have increased the
diversity of the manifold.

> The next step is to recognize that consciousness might be scalable.
> The Syntony can not be conscious ("all wove and lurked and had no
> conscious voice"), only its agents, on whatever level, can do that.

An interesting idea. Are we perhaps "conscious-centric"? We regard
conscious systems as better than non-conscious systems just because
we (apparently) are conscious. It might be just as silly as
anthropocentrism or the belief in a fixed self.

One of my visions of a posthuman state is a wast sea of mental "lego"
blocks (perhaps implemented as a wast tuple space running on a
jupiter brain?). They are constantly tumbling into each other,
forming transient systems of all sizes. External influences affect
this sea, making useful systems emerge and then melt back into the
sea when their purpose is completed. It might be that most of the
system is unconscious and nonintelligent, but parts become conscious
if needed. A bit like the Thinker caste of Bruce Sterlings classic
story _Swarm_.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y