ONE
Fifteen Minutes of Fame;
Death and Taxes

TWO
Writing for Oneself;
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THREE
Nagata's Chenzeme
Philosopher Cells

FOUR
Religions

FIVE
Breaking Out of
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SIX
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SEVEN
Future People

EIGHT
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Nagata's Chenzeme Philosopher Cells

by Robert E. Rogoff

I've long noticed a Darwinian winnowing process on Usenet, as arguments from various posters battle for acceptance, in the process evolving, until for whatever reason (whether logical or not) certain arguments end up dominating an issue--in effect capturing their niche in what I'll call the ideosphere. The argumentation process itself serves as a hostile environment, causing refinement and adaptation of a topic or an opinion.

In Vast, Linda Nagata creates a sort of AI guidance system for her Chenzeme warships called "philosopher cells":

"The cells are an intellectual machine. Not so much a mind, as a billion dedicated minds in competition, gambling their opinions. Approval means more and stronger connections to neighboring cells. Disapproval means an increasing isolation. Links are made and shattered a thousand times a second and long-term alliances are continuously renegotiated. Consensus is sought but seldom found." (p. 3, Vast, Linda Nagata, Bantam Spectra, 1998)

Although evolution is one of the most important concepts for understanding myriad phenomena, processes, and behaviors, I wonder if Nagata's cells were at least partially inspired by Usenet.

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