X-Message-Number: 11964
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: re: memetics and the possibilities of ants
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 23:41:20 +1000 (EST)

Hi everyone!

This addition to Cryonet will be short. Basically, the replies to Peter
Merel's message seemed weak. They only raised the POSSIBIITY that the 
notion of memes may prove useful; the same may be said of many notions 
which appear and disappear. I do agree with Fideli and its empirical 
usefulness will be the only true test.

To Mike Perry, about ants: I know that you think consciousness and some
seat of intelligence will be needed to do the kinds of things people
do... at least as stated very broadly (to do exactly the same as what
human beings do probably would require consciousness, but I wasn't
suggesting that for these hyper-ants at all). We, collectively, may
never know the answer to that question on any empirical ground: 
discovery of a species of hyper-ant would tell us that consciousness
and some kind of intelligence ISN'T needed, but what if we never run
across in all our explorations for millions of years ANY hyper-ant?
That would prove nothing at all.

It might help, Mike, if you can try to explain just WHY you think some
kind of intelligence similar to ours is needed to do such things as
space travel. And remember that I'm not claiming that any other system
will get there as fast as us; I'm just raising the possibility that
other means to get there, fast or slowly, may exist. Development of
some form of space travel (in the very wide sense that sending spores
to other worlds would be a form of space travel) looks like a good
thing to look at. Ants and termites both have existed on Earth for
much longer than humans; in that time they have invented slavery,
agriculture (both of other insects and of plants), and several other
things (Wilson"s book THE INSECT SOCIETIES is a beautiful place to
start if you want to find out all the things they can collectively

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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