Re: "friendly" humans?

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Jan 01 2004 - 16:51:14 MST

Wei Dai wrote:
> Consider two types of memes: A) those that provide justification for
> having children or caring for relatives, and B) those that makes one
> consider having children or caring for relatives silly or unimportant.
> Type A memes will do better when most communications take place between
> relatives, especially in childhood, and type B memes will do better when
> most communications take place between non-relatives. I suggest that type
> B memes were a threat to our genes even in our environment of evolutionary
> adaptation, and therefore we evolved defenses against them, which includes
> increased suspectibility to type A memes. But those defenses are no longer
> adequate now that a lot more meme transmission take place between
> non-relatives.
> Does that help?

What does "better" mean when you say type A memes will do "better"? And
why would they do better? Memetic fitness and evolutionary fitness are
not the same reason. Carrying meme A might contribute to reproductive
fitness, but it's not obvious to me why meme A would do better
memetically. Also, why hypothesize a gene that discriminates childcare
promoting *memes* as such and promotes greater susceptibility to them,
rather than a gene that makes people like children, and hence (as a side
effect) memes that tap into people's liking for children?

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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