The human being, characterized by a remarkable ability to process information, has extended
his phenotype further than any other species. Complex tools and technologies are an integral
part of our evolutionary "fitness".
Human evolution is fundamentally intertwined with technological development; the two can not
be considered apart from one another. Humanity has co-evolved with its artifacts; genes that
are not able to cope with this reality will not survive the next millenium.
As an analogy to the building blocks of biology, the genes, memes describe cultural units of
information, cognitive behavioral patterns that propagate and replicate themselves through
communication. From the "bio-adapter" of language as a proto-meme to the "infosphere" of
global networks as the ultimate habitat for the human mind.
The discussion is intended to probe specific segments of the techno-cultural revolution
against the background of the idea of a "culturally based history of creation". This is
not to develop new utopias, but rather critically assess the current scenario, which promises
the fulfillment of long prophesied visions of the future.
The possibility of the emergence of a post-biological, cyberorganic line of evolution
out of universal binary code systems, of which the first protozoans have names like
Internet, Cyberspace and I-way.
As the biological body coincides with its mechanical and now informational clone as
well, neurobionic, robotic prosthetics question our relationship to the body and to
gender; cyborg theory and cyberobdy fetish as response.
Media memory - the collective memory and experience of humanity externalized in
world-wide networks. Memes, as a "mass crystal", the identification and integration of
virtual communities that gather only in network interfaces.
Memes, the cognitive pixels as a blueprint for the cultural practice of sampling, of the
universal "copy and paste", which has emerged from the new conditions of media.
Memesis: a synonym for the current process of compression, for the convergence of various
developmental vectors, which achieve a breakthrough as a whole.
In 1996, the activities of the Ars Electronica will be starting long before the actual
festival. Beginning in March, the topics for discussion presented under the title"Memesis -
The Future of Evolution" will be the focal point for a network symposium.
The reality of global networking has come to be taken for granted, at least in our culture,
and no program on media art and theory can avoid it at the moment: in this symposium it
becomes itself the scene of events.
Beginning with keynote statements from invited experts, a discussion process is to be
initiated, which will spread out in the networks, spur varying directions of thought on the
topic and polarize opinions. As preparation for the "real" symposium, this will provide the
basis for a new format for this event.