Information Is A Living Thing

Information is not static, or passive. It is practically a living thing, and will become increasingly so as technology advances.

The Old Paradigm

We’ve misunderstood information for almost our entire existence as a species. This is the “old paradigm”, a way of looking at information that still persists today.

Under the old paradigm, information is static. Facts matter, and humans are rational beings. Things are true or they aren’t. Every piece of information is just that, a piece. Information exists, and actors in the world, like ourselves, will do with it what we will.

Under the old paradigm, information is passive. Processors – like ourselves, and computers – consider each piece of information and deal with them as they occur. We choose what information we store, repeat, and so on.

Information As A Living Thing

The new paradigm – the memetic paradigm – looks at information as practically a living thing. What does this mean?

Units of information – memes – are not static. They are replicators. Most things that process information – crucially, human beings included – have the capability to repeat information. And when the selection is made as to what exactly will be repeated, a selection pressure is introduced.

This is the cornerstone of memetic thought. What drives some units of information to be repeated, and others not? It’s an important question. Whatever is repeated appears true to the observer. Whatever is repeated goes viral. Whatever goes viral wins in the war of ideas.

Whatever wins in the war of ideas becomes manifest in the physical world.

So information is not static – a crucial characteristic is how it travels.

And it’s not passive, either. Since information processors – again, including humans – decide which pieces of information to repeat, information becomes active in finding ways to become repeatable.

This process ends up driving human behavior – including the widespread problems of constant thought, and constant talking. The more repeatable a piece of information, the more likely you are to repeat it! So over time, we become bigger and bigger slaves to information, as we’re helpless to stop repeating things like catchy pop hooks and campaign slogans. This process drives fashion and culture. And in the long term, it can even make us stray from our genetic imperatives.

While information isn’t conscious, that’s not a requirement to be living. Are genes conscious? Of course not, but they drive our behavior and are at the center of evolution. Memes act the same way; it just took conscious beings for them to really take off.

And if you think about it, aren’t genes themselves just bits of information? We speak about genetic code, genetic information… all instructions as to what to replicate, and how to act in a given situation.

As technology advances, information is increasingly able to replicate without human assistance. Without humans, you can make efficiency gains by cutting us out of the picture completely. For this reason, we won’t speak the language of the future.

But when computers repeat information between themselves without humans, and AI/3D printing/future technology can manifest computer instructions physically without humans, too, what need is there for us?

Information will practically be a living thing, and we may well have to compete with it.


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