Friday, September 24, 2010


Many of you have come here and (erroneously, though through no fault of your own) thought that you were going to be viewing a blog about exercise. Would that I knew enough about such a topic to make this an interesting read, however, I had a different sort of idea when coming up with this blog. As a college student majoring in biological anthropology, I've been around the block a couple of times when it comes to relating abstract scientific theories with the realities of human expression. For this, I couldn't help but draw parallels between the biological principle of inclusive fitness and the mass exodus of robots to create blogging accounts. To understand this connection, maybe an introduction to what inclusive fitness actually means is necessary.

Inclusive fitness, very simply stated, is the idea that one's genetic heritage may still be passed on even if the individual in question did not sire offspring.This is the principle that, most notably, helps to describe altruism (doing good for seemingly no return) in the animal kingdom. Thinking pragmatically, there is no benefit to engage in highly risky, yet altruistic behavior as it reduces the chance you will personally live on and reproduce. Despite this, altruism is a very well-documented facet of many animals' behavior. How can this be? The best example of altruism can be seen in the behavior of prairie dogs (hence the avatar). Prairie dogs have unique members of their social units known as "sentries" who watch for predators by standing on their hind limbs above the high grass while their relatives move safely along the ground. While doing this, they are highly alert for predators and give out a call if any are spotted. Conversely, if a predator is spotted by a sentry, that sentry would be the first target of attack. This leaves him with a very low chance of survival. Thankfully, even if such an individual is snatched up by some predator, the genes he shares with his relatives who have successfully avoided death due to his altruism still survive. Isn't biology fun?

But what does this have to do with the creation of blogging accounts? It may take a leap of faith, but I see this as a direct translation of culturally induced inclusive fitness. Obviously this cannot have a genetic basis, but rather it exists through a memetic system of reinforcement and observation.  Though many of us started blogs for greedy and seemingly selfish reasons, the nature of this system forces us to act altruistically and add, follow, and comment to others all the while hoping they will do the same for us. Everyone is (at least partially) looking out for the welfare of one another. Also, in terms of the greater survival of the group at the expense of the individual, I thought to the userbase of /r9k/ as a whole. Even if some people don't follow through individually on their promises (God forbid) to keep up with one another, the collective of /r9k/ continually experiences profit (both intellectually and monetarily). Individual accounts may cease to post on and view other blogs, but the collective entity that was created between their interactions still lives on. And that is the predominant reason I chose to join in. As much shit as robots get, I thoroughly enjoy what most people have to say (caveat: when they're not trolling), so helping out and getting to know other contributors seems like a fine thing for me to do.

On one hand, this seems awesome (to me, at least). On the other hand, I may have just been extremely high when I came up with this in the morning (unlikely) and it may be absolute hogwash. Either way, I had fun writing it. The rest of this blog will be filled up with things I enjoy doing, projects I'm working on, or stuff that I find interesting that I discussed in class. Thanks to anyone that sticks around and actually reads the bullshit I'm writing, I appreciate it.

(In b4 wall of text, for more info:

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