Monday 7 March 2011

Evolutionary Replicators in the Global Brain

Two existing evolutionary replicators are genes and memes. These operate within the body and mind respectively. It is proposed that, with the realisation of the Global Brain (GB), there could be a novel corresponding replicator, using as its vehicle the human brain, and acting across the sub-structures of the GB.

The noeme [(plural noemes), pronounced  no:ĭm, from the Greek νόημα which means ‘that which emanates from the Nous (brain/mind)’ i.e. understanding, sense,  thought] is the intellectual ‘presence’ of an individual within the GB.

A noeme is an active germ-line evolutionary replicator that can be copied and transmitted horizontally. Its vehicle is the human brain as part of the GB. It can be copied from person to society, within the GB. It is copied by imitation and technologically assisted transfer (e.g. via the internet).

Everybody has an intellectual ‘presence’ , an ‘aura’ of intellect – a noeme.  You may have never met ex President Clinton but you have formed an idea of his intellect, thoughts, cognitive rigour, and mental presence. His intellectual ‘presence’ has been technologically transmitted to yours, it has interacted with it and caused it to change within the evolving world brain.

A meme transmits from mind to mind through a physical medium (writing, speech, gestures, rituals) whereas the noeme transmits through digital means such as global technological communication. It is spread primarily in a horizontal fashion but there could be a degree of vertical transmission.

Other replicators such as genes and memes can form groups for mutual benefit (such as meme sets). These promote the replication of all the individual genes/memes within that particular set by reinforcing each other. The same can be true in the case of noemes:  a group of successful noemes (intellectual presences emanating from a group of human brains) can form a set (noeme set) that promotes the survival and success of all the individual noemes within that set (e.g. the regular bloggers within a scientific online forum).

The intellectual manifestation of a person (noeme), if successful, will lead to others copying it (so noemes are replicating). A noeme is not just single ideas or solitary intellectual achievements. It is the total sum of all individual cognitive efforts and active intellectual achievements of a person. The noeme is the intellectual standing of a person within the GB.

Noemes are fluid (not static) and can co-evolve in association with genes and memes – a symbiotic relationship. Genes and memes can enhance the presence of a noeme, through for example producing a genetically robust brain that has strong intellect and, through memes, consolidating its impact within society.

It is possible that there exists a co-evolution of genes, memes and noemes that will result in a functional GB, that in turn, enhances all thee. The GB is developing not for the sole benefit of humans but also for a better replication of memes, and also genes (through better health perhaps).

As an evolutionary replicator, the noeme competes with alternative forms and continues to evolve and adapt, sometimes being stable, sometimes changing or modifying itself. Noemes that do not contribute to the fitness of the GB are eventually eliminated (e.g. the intellect of my dead greengrocer is forgotten). Those who enhance the GB are retained and improved (Einstein’s intellect ‘survives’).

All three can evolve in opposition. For example, a noeme that is not well integrated can result in its elimination (and thus the elimination of its human host) through early aging, thus death, thus the end of the gene/meme that defined it. Or, a noeme defined by beneficial memes/genes can integrate well in the GB and evolve, and transmit their genes/memes to others.

Noemes can mutate and result in better, worse or neutral noemes. General properties of all replicators are:

1. Assimilation (the ability to infect a new host). This depends on the strength of the noeme.
2. Retention(it must remain in the memory of the subject/GB)
3. Expression (as a physical entity, e.g. cognitive information in the brain)
4. Transmission (through a physical medium, in this case through digital means)

The behaviour of noemes can help us understand the behaviour and evolution of the GB. In addition, it makes it easier to define ourselves in a way that strengthens our intellectual presence in the world. By trying to enhance our cognition and intelligence we can become better integrated into the GB and so become a valuable part of it, forcing natural laws to operate in a way that prolongs our lifespan (as mentioned in my previous blog).

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