Conference paper Open Access

Universal Acid in the Computer Chip: Music, Memetics and Metacreation

Jan, Steven

Universal Darwinism (UD) (Plotkin, 1995) holds that the "evolutionary algorithm" (Dennett, 1995, pp. 50–52) operates across the interconnected realms of a "recursive ontology" (Velardo, 2016) that binds together all that exists. Indeed, UD maintains that all phenomena in the universe are emergent properties of Darwinian processes of variation, replication and selection. If true, an evolutionary view of culture must take priority over more "creationist" accounts that rely upon the mysterious intercession of inspiration and imagination and the supposed conscious agency of the composer (or programmer). The most widely accepted (and critiqued) theory of cultural evolution – memetics – arguably has significant explanatory power for human-generated music (HGM), and accepting the logic of UD it follows that computer-generated music (CGM) must in some sense be "accountable" to evolutionary precepts. This paper explores how AIMC can be understood in the light of memetics (as a window on the operation of UD in human culture), even when the outputs of generative systems seem far removed from the structural norms, aesthetic values and sound-worlds, of HGM.

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