I see Sue Blackmore coined the idea of a third level of replicator above genes and memes, termed (so far) “temes” in her recent presentation to TED2008.
Not entirely convinced yet that this form of technology enabled memes are fundamentally different to memes. As she says herself, in discussing whether “artificial-meme” might be a better name “But really they are no more artificial that we are.”
Meme’s have benefitted from being technology enabled since the printing-press or maybe even the tabula-rasa or papyrus scrolls – whatever – maybe even the use of myths and symbols in story-telling ? This is really just a debate about what technology is, and our parochial human perspective of intelligence and communication.
It’s really the same debate as to whether Strong-AI need be considered “artificial” if it is indeed “intelligent”. The artifice is in a non-human-bio-physical substrate brain, and the debate as to whether such an intelligence is possible without a substrate that is actually living – artificial life. I’m beginning to believe the latter – that AI may prove impossible without AL (which would be wonderfully consistent with neither actually being “artificial”, and with quality evolutionary theory and experience of life before intelligence to date.)
Anyway, the term may be useful pragmatically; as we so often find “fundamental” definitive distinctions are rarely black-and-white anyway.
An aside … joining up the dots increasingly between Quality (a la Pirsig), Wisdom (a la Maxwell), Inclusionality (a la Rayner), and more recently IdentityTheory, and find the convergence between The Edge / Third-Culture and TED becomes ever greater. These latter two initiatives are on a much grander scale than the former 3 or 4, but the agendas converge – “Third-Culture” is as good a catch-all umbrella as any for these syntheses of classically scientific and traditionally romantic understandings of humans in the cosmos.