Re: virus: ESS's and Punc. Equil.

Sodom (
Tue, 22 Jun 1999 15:42:33 -0400

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Tim Rhodes wrote:

> Eric wrote:
> >So my question is -- when did Puncuated Equilibrium enter the meme
> >pool? And has anybody else written on the relationship between
> >evolutationary stable strategies and puncuated equilibrium?
> In a recent e-mail convesarion with Mario Vaneechoutte he pointed out to me
> that since memes don't self-replicate although they do evolve, they do not
> undergo natural selection in a similar manner to biological life.
> Bill wrote:
> >A note about punctuated equilibrium - It sounds like the idea that a
> >"stable set" exists at any moment to be untenable - only because of the
> >logistics of billions upon billions of sets of DNA remaining without any
> >positive change for any measurable amount of time seems unlikely. I have
> >to look at this as an oversimplification - that if your set was small and
> >you could watch, then it might look like punctuated equilibrium - also if
> >you followed a single species it would look that way. The basic idea seems
> >solid to me though.
> I think part of the point is that for self-replicating units 99.9% of that
> mutation is going to effect the ablity of DNA itself to replicate, screwing
> up the production of protiens and enzymes and whatnot that the DNA needs to
> copy itself. So for a self-replicating entity the only stable strategies
> are ones that at least preserve the ablity to perform that self-replication,
> limiting the possible variations for the gene.
> But since memes are replicated by an agency outside themselves (brains) they
> have a wider range of informational space that variations can explore
> without directly interupting the replication process.

What limits the variations then - or perhaps a better question - what modifies the meme. Can it be other memes? the analog nature of the brain, simple encoding mistakes - probably all of the above? If one meme is modifying another meme (as opposed to mistakes) it deserves a special name.

I do get the point though, and understand better. Thanks

Bill Roh

> -Prof. Tim