Volume 1, Issue 4
4th Quarter, 2006

On Genes, Memes, Bemes, and Conscious Things

Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D.

page 2 of 6

Bemes are organized into Beme Neural Architecture, or BNA. BNA beings include some animals and computers, whereas DNA beings include all animals, but no computers.

Where might this take us? Instead of looking at genes as the metaphor for the origin of the species, with bemes we are looking Rothblattat the destiny of the species. The reasons why the beme is mighter than the gene is that our uniqueness is far greater when expressed through BNA than in DNA; our thoughts differ to a much greater extent than our brains do; bemes allow substrate independence; and ultimately, it is much more true to say that mind is deeper than matter than to say that blood is thicker than water, which is actually not true at all in the metaphorical sense (ask your spouse or best friend).

What is a BNA being? A BNA being is called a beman or a transbeman. These entitities have human thought patterns and meet the biological definition of life directly or via electronics. It is quite easy to show that cybernetic beings meet the biological definition of life. Even though we do not think of things that are not wet as being biological, functionally, they can be.

Why this particular word, beman? There is nothing magical about it, but it does evoke the fact that what is really cool and interesting about life is to be, being-ness. It brings together the elements of being-ness (be-) and humanity (-man). Examples of bemans might be Homo sapiens, the computer Mike from Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Robin Williams in the film, Millennium Man, A.I., and primates.

Image 2: Beman BNA

The point of this new semantics is to shift our thinking in the direction of looking at DNA as an archaic, irrelevant body-ist approach, whereas BNA addresses our preciousness, personality, mind, and thoughts. Beman and transbeman are terms of inclusiveness that make it easier for us to avoid class wars and to include cybernetic consciousness in our same community, whereas human is more of a label of division like Caucasian or female.

How many bemes are there? I don’t know but it is a great research project. The Human Genome Project was great, how about a Human Benome Project?

There is a lot of interesting research that can be done on the new beme-based species, Persona Creatus, from the standpoint of physical and cultural anthropology. Yet in essence, substrate is to bemes as race is to genes. Race is irrelevant to genes and substrate is irrelevant to bemes.

Why not use other words like transhumans? Ray Kurzweil has made the observation that we are not called transmonkeys, so as we begin to abstract ourselves into cybernetic form, why would be call ourselves transhumans?

Image 3: The Problem with Words Other than Transbeman

Why should we care about bemes? The reason is to create and extend consciousness. Copying and extending one’s bemes would create the self element and mind file for extending one’s unique consciousness. It would be a necessary but sufficient way to replicate one’s consciousness. We would also need mindware that does not yet exist. People who work on avatars and other autonomous agents are rapidly putting together the mindware that could wrap around our bemes and enable us to have a cybernetic consciousness.

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