From: Thomas Buckner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Mar 24 2004 - 17:34:11 MST
--- Dani Eder <email@example.com> wrote:
> See this article:
> The human genome is 3.36 billion base pairs, or
> 840 MBytes raw. Using an efficient compression
> algorithm it can be compressed to 21% of it's raw
> size, hence there is 180 MBytes of unique data in
> the genome.
> Assuming that a language-using tribe of paleolithic
> humans has about 1000 pieces of useful knowledge
> (how to make a spear, where to find a tasty root,
> etc.) and each piece of knowledge is 1 Kbyte, then
> the tribal database is 1 MByte. If 50% of the
> knowledge is non-overlapping with other tribes, then
> when you have more than 360 tribes, or about 10K
> individuals, the total knowledge base exceeds that
> of the genetic base. The population at the start
> of the neolithic is estimated at 1-10 million,
> so the crossover of non-genetic vs genetic
> transfer occurred long before books.
> > >>There is no question that currently the
> > epi-genetic information transfer
> > >>from generation to generation is much larger
> > the genetic information
> > >>and that prior to chipped rock it was much
> > >>
I find this estimate reasonable; however, as I noted
previously, the oral knowledge was both spread out
geographically and fugitive (unrecorded). Nobody could
access more than the local tribe's 1 MByte and perhaps
an equal amout of non-overlapping knowledge from other
nearby tribes. If we peg the crossover to 'data
available in in one time and one place' then the
crossover had to wait for some early library.
Incidentally, I think this relates to the phenomenon
of independent discovery, which has become more and
more common. In the past the shared database and the
number of people (nodes) sharing it were smaller, so
that important discoveries happened only in one place
and spread from there (or withered because nobody else
understood the discovery: Archimedes pretty much
discovered calculus, but it had to wait for Newton for
the idea to stick). In the last couple of centuries,
discoveries have started to cluster so that
controversies occurred over who 'had the idea first'
(Darwin or Wallace? Edison or Tesla?) Now, with six
billion people and a wealth of widely disseminated
info, if you just had a brilliant idea, probably
someone in Shanghai will have the same idea tomorrow
morning (or they had it yesterday morning).
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