Genes and memes are, in their essence, a construct of information that aims to replicate. So far, though, memes are generated by organisms guided by genetics. Memes replicate much faster, only because of tools adopted by the biological organisms. Memes (or genes) alone, aren’t intelligent. But the gist of their being hints at the evolution of intelligence to come.
Genetic information and evolution is rather complex. Coding DNA, non-coding DNA and RNA. A genetic mutation rarely affects the whole organism that much, as it is formed by numerous genes. A single gene is bound to the host organism and it’s surroundings. A meme is only constrained by the interconnected minds, ranging from small groups to the entire humanity.
Memes, tend to be concise, compressed, and short. They have their history and evolution, perhaps chronicled by someone somewhere. But in essence, the easier a meme is to understand or the more unusual it is, the more it spreads.
Genes merge with other similar genes to form a new unique combination of information. The resulting combination is (so far) unforeseeable, and much more based on chance. This uniqueness is important, as it creates diversity and possible resistance to outside dangers.
Memes spread via language, and they evolve when passed from human to human. Though when replicated electronically, they have less chance of evolving, as data is transmitted before a human mind can alter or misremember it.
For most of life on earth, genes were the only type of information replication. Some non-verbal communication must have happened before verbal, but it’s retention cannot have been that efficient. Verbal communication, followed by the formation of language was one of the greatest advantages for our species.
Written language provided fidelity and accuracy, and later, the printing press sped up replication. The speed was then accelerated by radio, television and finally the internet. This spread of information has so far been exponential in both speed and breadth.
The exponential growth is now only limited by our ability to generate information, and perhaps our final invention will surpass us in that ability. At this point, the speed of biological evolution won’t be able to keep up. We must either step aside or merge with technology, in some way or another. As it happens, most of us already have; we are constantly connected to each other and to an almost limitless source of information, we outsource our memories, etc.
Perhaps the rise of digital intelligence is only a natural continuum of biological intelligence. Artificial intelligence is not unnatural. Evolution shouldn’t therefore be viewed from the perspective of biology, but of information.
“Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms. The machine world reciprocates man’s love by expediting his wishes and desires, namely, in providing him with wealth.” - Marshall_McLuhan