Once self-copying memes had arisen, their own, much faster, kind of evolution took off. – Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
Dominic Basulto imagines that digital devices are a kind of primordial soup in which “digital bits” of Big Data will propagate to the point where “they don’t need us anymore.” He speculates upon Richard Dawkins’ theory of memes:
Where things become both exciting and creepy is if the data replicators (data memes) become truly “selfish” and start to challenge the classic genetic replicators (genes). It’s not just that Big Data wants to become Bigger, it’s that it may eventually want to out-compete our genetic material.
Techno-memes or temes
Basulto didn’t mention Susan Blackmore’s theory of temes. Temes are “digital information stored, copied, varied and selected by machines.” She writes:
We are still needed, not least to run the power stations, but as the temes proliferate, using ever more energy and resources, our own role becomes ever less significant, even though we set the whole new evolutionary process in motion in the first place.
More immediate fears: Less jobs
Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have argued that automated technologies are reducing the demand for many types of human workers, causing “dismal prospects” for professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.
How Technology Is Destroying Jobs – MIT Technology Review
Given his calm and reasoned academic demeanor, it is easy to miss just how provocative Erik Brynjolfsson’s contention really is. Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have been arguing for the last year and a half that …