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MEME, SEME e GENE (English Version)

. Posted in TRADUZIONI INGLESE ARTICOLI

MEME, SEED and GENE, THEIR UNIQUE PURPOSE: TO HAND DOWN

by Gian Marco Boccanera

 

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What biology genetics ans semantics, correlated to each other, have in common with  Strategy applicable to the current historical moment?
Apparently nothing, but in reality they can help us to understand and face the crisis we are experiencing,  with an acceptable method and a continuous approach.


MEME is the cornerstone of the discussion.

 


The MEME is the cultural information entity, or the idea, which goes from mind to mind, or from memory support to memory support, replicating in each passage and interacting with the environment. The meme is any information unit that can be easily learned and passed on to others in unit terms. In passing,  the MEME undergoes an evolution that can be respectively produce memetic drift or memetic inertia if in transfer the force of impact changes or doesn’t change regardless of the persons who transmit it, receive and retransmit. The memetic drift tends to increase, making lose energy to the meme, if the communication takes place with difficult words or complex and "not affordable" concepts, while - on the contrary - the memetic inertia (the opposite of memetic drift) tends to increase if the communication is simple (smart and  friendly) and makes use of mnemonic elements easy to understand, store and re-emergence as the rhyme, smashes, trends, "jingles", tunes and chants, proverbs, aphorisms,  combination of sounds and musical notes, the full conviction, etc.. And especially Internet, which stands today as a vehicle of an infinite Meme.



It was the biologist Edward Osborne Wilson to adopt the term "meme" in his book "Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge". He argued that the fundamental units of Culture are the biological neural networks that operate as nodes of semantic memory. For the expert, the term "meme" identifies these basic units of cultural inheritance. On the base of this concept, Wilson has developed a study on the fundamental role of memes in unifying the natural sciences with social sciences, laying the the foundations of memetics, which studies the evolutionary model on the transfer of information, knowledge, skills and cultural preferences.



Memetics  is defined, then, as the study of  the evolution of memes, as the analysis of evolutionary models of the transfer of information, knowledge and cultural preferences from a group of people to another, from one community to another, from one Country to another,  and from one Generation to another. The transfer of memes in the collective consciousness has a characterization of causality in determining the individual psyche, which, embracing the discovery process theorized by Carl Gustav Jung, allows each person to develop his or her own self and make it susceptible to the influence of memes that receives . The subject is not fully studied, but some scientists have theorized the transfer of MEME as a Darwinian evolution, for which the meme, in order to survive through the repetition of replication, needs to mutate and adapt to the environment, and thereby it experiences an inexorable natural selection, after which, only the memes with great energy and ability to adapt may continue to persist and even replicate. It has been identified as "viral" or "spreading pandemic" the power of meme propagation from mind to mind, or - in the case of computers as a means of propagation – from digital storage to digital memory. The metaphor which is used to decline the character of diffusivity and SELF REPLICATION of MEME is borrowed from medical Science (= viral and pandemic), and in particular from the Science that studies the "infectious" characterization in the mass spreading of a disease.



Here we are then in the medical field, related to genetics. The ethologist Richard Dawkins in his book "The Selfish Gene" (The Selfish Gene, 1976) used the word MEME, just to indicate a basic unit of human cultural evolution, very close to the gene as the basic unit of the biological evolution. Like the gene that is charatecterized by the mechanism of replication, mutation and selection, MEME also has the same causal characterization. The meme replicates, changes in the transition and is subject to natural selection that drives the memetic drift (weak meme) or pushes it forward for self-replication with new memetic inertia (strong meme).



The term "meme" then refers to any single piece of information that can be spread in viral pandemic ways  from mind to mind, replicating forward again.




Dawkins argued that Cultures are free to evolve in the same way as people and living biological organisms do. Most of the cultural information and ideas that migrate from one generation to the next generation are able to increase or decrease the chances of survival of the generation that receives them,  which in turn will be able to retransmit to the next one.


The cultural meme so becomes similar to the biological gene. The meme becomes a gene that influences next cultural memes and is, in turn, influenced  from these ones and from the surrounding environment.  

The MEME, as the gene,  is subject to the attractive force similar to the genotype and phenotype, depending on whether the meme is more or less linked to heredity or its relationships with the environment. In its spread the meme, like the gene, shows similar characteristics to its Genotype and its phenotype,  that is, in its spreading  the meme reflects both the semantic connotation of the same genotype, and the manifestation of what  inheritance actually produces (Phenotype). In genetics,  phenotype is the physical manifestation of an organism, in an aspect identified, it’s what looks phenomenal, visible. While the genotype is the set of genetic instructions of an organism, which may be expressed or not, otherwise remaining latent and hidden.



The environment, the genotype and phenotype are interwoven in  Theory of Evolution, so that some scholars have successfully argued that the phenotype (physical effective and visible manifestation) is the result of the interaction between environment and genotype (hereditary kit). Each gene, then (similar to MEME for the information) is expressed through its causal factor, called ALLELE, as a variant of the gene sequence. So that the genotype of an individual in respect of a particular gene is the set of alleles that it possesses. For example, the flower that is born from the seed  has several genes that are responsible for its characterization. There is a gene that controls the color of the bud, but many alleles of that gene may occur,  resulting in a variety of colors, depending on the interaction with the causal factor. The allele, therefore, is only ONE possible manifestation of a gene within a larger range as it visually appears on the genotype. The MEME, as a  piece of information in his spreading, receives a factorization from the outside, which leads it to evolve more or less consistently with its original hereditary composition, being  in the passage influenced by causal factorization, that is, declined in different VERSIONS AND EXPRESSIONS.

GENE and MEME are related each other to the SEED. The seed cover  fundamental importance for the physiological life, to allow replication of plants and flowers (botany) and for the entire flora, to allow the photosynthesis, but also to enable the reproduction of fauna, which is the natural turnover between birth and death of each living animal, including humans. The new frontiers of artificial insemination in vitro and animal cloning are heavily moving, opening perspectives unimaginable a few decades ago. In the same time , the field of genetics is evolving, after the sequencing of DNA by the American scientist Craig Venter (Celera Genomics Lab) and the recent creation (May 2010) of the first genome artificially created in laboratory by the same scientist and his team. This is the first bacterium driven by a simple artificial genome, built at the discretion of man, starting from commands and instructions via computer, with a chemical application and a DNA synthesizer. The importance of SEED in order to protect the survival of  Humanity  has led some international decision-makers to make a huge secret storage in the northern hemisphere, where you can preserve and conserve all the known  species of seeds and plants, like a giant frozen Noah's Ark.


The mechanism of spread of the meme is IMITATION called MIMESIS (from ancient greek mimesis, imitation). In its forward propagation, the information unit of culture (meme) travels through the  IMITATION. Here we have another aspect common to all three elements: meme, gene and seed. The MEME spreads through its imitation replica passing from mouth to mouth, from mind to mind, from computer to computer. Also the gene and the seed have the same spread characterization: imitation. We are thinking about  imitative mechanisms that regulate fertilization (gene), or those who supervise the pollination (seed). MEME, and SEED and GENE are, in various ways, connected to each other through mimesis of each of them, they spread and replicate through the  IMITATION.



As the genetic and biological evolution, also memetic evolution occurs through mutations. The mutation leads to multiple variations of memes, among whom only the most suitable ones  replicate again(Charles Darwin), and, that is, they become more common and increase even further  the chances of replication. It is considered possible that it was precisely the mutation to let a culturally primitiv group of guttural sounds and syllables evolve in the wide range of languages and dialects existing today, as well as the wide range of symbolic meanings in each language. The ancient Greek and the modern English are the alpha and omega of this assumption: in the ancient Greek language the symbolic meanings of words and the words themselves are much higher than the concise, efficient and essential modern English.



The Cultures and ways of thinking can evolve in a similar way as people and living beings do through the genes. The ideas , that run through the present generation to the next one,  may increase or decrease the chances of survival of the generation that receives then and which, in turn, can retransmit them for benefit of the next generations.

For example, most Cultures can develop their own project and their own method to create a tool or a "modus operandi", but only the Culture that will have developed the most effective methods will have more chances, evolving, to thrive and develop better than the others. Over time an increasing proportion of the population will adopt these methods, recognized as the best ones. Science and technology of the ancient Rome Empire progressed, evolving the culture of' “homo faber” in the arts, machines, hydraulics, engineering, medicine, mechanics, transport, navigation, etc.. they have given the bases to many of the current sections of Universal Knowledge.



Unlike genes, for which the success is linked to their usefulness to the survival of the organism that receives them, the success of a meme depends on various factors such as persuasion, acceptance, group  pressure, intensity of message, trends. These factors were not at the moment (June 2010) fully investigated, although some experts have reported techniques by which the meme spreads:

a) proof  that an idea, technique or project is suitable and beneficial, for example, the wooden wheel covered with rubber gave rise to tire that  improved and made more easy, fast and comfortable the transport of people and things.

b) identifying a problem without its solution: for example choosing an assumption which cannot be proved as wrong, and therefore not refuted,  allows it to spread and be better. But still: identifying a problem that will create a strong causality of acceptance or social disapproval results in great diffusive strength of meme (= memetic inertia) through imitation. For example, the serious natural disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (the problem), in which the off-shore oil platform DEEP WATER HORIZON owned by British Petroleum (BP) resulted in a spill from the hole of oil drilled in 1,500 meters depth, is creating the fundamental conditions for spreading the meme of social disapproval in the Collective Consciousness to the offshore oil drilling, going even to reconsider the STRATEGIC effectiveness of the use of the TRADITIONAL FOSSIL sources of energy. The very serious damage suffered by the people, the flora and fauna, through the dissemination of the incident and its consequences that the environment will experience for years, is the causal element to permit the dissemination, first political and then pandemic in public opinion, of a strong MEME of prevalence of  INNOVATIVE AND GREEN energy sources, compared to traditional ones, despite the huge interest carried by other memes, equally strong, of preservation of "status quo", induced from Lobbies of oil and traditional fossil energy. Only the strong spread of a pandemic NEW MEME will make it possible to gradually replace the pre-existing TRADITIONAL STRONG MEME.

c) the threat towards those who don’t spread a meme, and – in opposite - the reward to those who spread it: for example the choice of mechanisms for social gratification in the pursuit of certain behaviors and social disapproval from others provides the best propagation the meme. In this case, the role of Professionals is very important.

d) the conviction of the owner of the meme to dialogue and reflection on it: for example, to convince the addressee of a certain idea or project to share intimately, in depth reflection, and interacting with it so he/she can fell enthusiastically owner and spread it (acting as a virus).



So, as we have so far understood, there is a strong and intimate relationship between MEME, GENE and SEED, because all the three elements are self-replicating on the benefit of the future, all three spread through imitation (mimesis), all three are responsible for  life and survival. MEME GENE AND SEED have a single purpose: the one of HANDING DOWN, allowing  the survival of the species and Humanity along the time.

 

The MEME for information and cultural survival, which is the basis of the other two, the gene for the genetic survival, and the seed for the biological survival. All three need each other, and vice versa.

The matrix factorization, the connections, the meta-system transitions, the  auto-replication, arise from primordial genetic life, evolve in the biological one, and continue to network in the semantic dimension, typical of the "learning web" of the Internet, similar to a large digital neural network where we make abstraction of the concepts of matter, energy, space and time in order to bring out only the Interdependences of various actions and the connection of events.



I conclude by mentioning the theoretical Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a great visionary, not understood in his days because he was a forerunner, and his conception of the world and the things to which it tends. He theorized the so-called "Noosphere" (from greek: vous - nous = mind), the sphere of human thought, as a container of collective consciousness of human beings that arises from the continuous interaction between human minds.


The Noosphere is an evolution from the primordial Geosphere (typical of the inanimate matter) to the Biosphere (typical of biological life, also known as Gaia). Like the birth of life has radically transformed the geosphere, the advent and development of knowledge has completely transformed the biosphere. There are many examples, and each one can figure them.

The Noosphere has manifested itself in the interaction and organization of human beings in an increasingly complex manner, as they have populated the Earth and they have taken over the domain. According to Teilhard de Chardin more the Humanity is organized in complex social networks, more Noosphere become in size and awareness a  "global neural network" or "global mind" (global brain).

The process that is making  more consistent the Noosphere in terms of integration and unification of the contacts, experience, relationships between META-SYSTEMS in short - the entire human knowledge is INTERNET, also originally founded with the purpose of the HAND DOWN (military network ARPANET), imagining the terrible results of a feared nuclear disaster in the era of US-Soviet Cold War in order to provide adequate responses to the need for subsequent communication, and to the supreme goal of ensuring the survival of Humanity.


But we are far from the Omega point according to De Chardin, ad quem omnia tendunt, and that allows the man to achieve and satisfy his material, inner, relational and transcendent dimension, through the techniques of concentration, decentralization , supercentration of the spirit and thought.

If we begin to think that the CONSILIENZA of Knowledge is the aim (in greek: telos) of different fields of knowledge and their RELATIONAL INTERCONNECTED AGGREGATION in a shared human environment, then we took a step forward and we are well on your way.



Gian Marco Boccanera

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