The genes in our bodies can be traced back over three-and-a-half billion years to a single organism, Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor. As Luca reproduced, its genes copied and copied and copied and copied, sometimes with mistakes — they transformed. Over time this produced every one of the billions of species of life on earth. Some of these adopted sexual reproduction, combining the genes of individuals, and altogether, the best-adapted life forms prospered.
This is evolution. Copy, transform and combine.
And culture evolves in a similar way, but the elements aren’t genes, they’re memes — ideas, behaviors, skills. Memes are copied, transformed, and combined. And the dominant ideas of our time are the memes that spread the most.
This is social evolution.
Copy, transform and combine. It’s who we are, it’s how we live, and of course, it’s how we create. Our new ideas evolve from the old ones.
But our system of law doesn’t acknowledge the derivative nature of creativity. Instead, ideas are regarded as property, as unique and original lots with distinct boundaries.
But ideas aren’t so tidy. They’re layered, they’re interwoven, they’re tangled. And when the system conflicts with the reality… the system starts to fail.