Re: memetics-digest V1 #1031

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Mon Apr 29 2002 - 21:54:07 BST

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    Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #1031
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    Hi Lawrence

    > Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2002 17:14:11 -0400
    > From: "Lawrence DeBivort" <>
    > Subject: RE: memetics-digest V1 #1031
    > Greetings, Steve,
    > Thanks for your thoughts on Pandora's box.
    > On the whole, I think the human species has demonstrated its net ability to
    > make great strides forward, some of that in the form of new ideas and
    > technologies, and some of that through the simple accumulation of resources
    > over the generations.
    > I do view memetics as a potentially important technology, on a par in terms
    > of importance with nuclear weaponry. So while the generality may be true
    > that useful tools become disseminate themselves, it is still worth it to
    > slow the dissemination down if there is concern for its abuse. The defense
    > against nuclear weapons was a combination of public disgust with their
    > destructiveness and offsetting threats (MAD). I'm not sure memetics has
    > equivalent defenses, and I would like to know what the defense(s) are going
    > to be before contributing to the dissemination.

    The potential may be there but any actuality is way off, if ever.
    Defence usually comes after I'm afraid - arms race and all that.
    > I say all this not out of a sense of pessimism about our human society, but
    > out of a sense that an ethic is at work now around the globe, an ethic that
    > asserts that the pursuit of short-term selfish advantage is an acceptable
    > primary value. There are too many folks out there to whom lots of money and
    > power are the goal, and give short shrift to a shared societal well-being
    > and progress. With these folks, cleverness has replaced wisdom, and what one
    > can get away with has become the ethical standard. These folks have proven
    > themselves adept at taking advantage of the new 'tools' of globalization and
    > IT systems. I have no desire to hand them additional tools, and would rather
    > use those tools that we have to impose accountability on them, and to
    > require their due consideration for the needs of a beneficial human
    > evolution.

    I agree there is an ethic of ME. NOW! going around the world, but part of
    that is social evolution. People are less reliant on one immediate kin
    group. Instead they are in a multiplicity of groups (such as this), so if
    you piss one group off so what? You are not ostracised like you would have
    been in a kin group.

    Like you said, this is a public forum. If you want to be really paranoid, I
    watched for a month before I made a post. So someone could watch without
    ever posting.

    We are a long way, if ever, from developing a memetic technology. Unlike
    hard tech, this one would be available to the ordinary person. Have you
    considered that?
    > Best regards,
    > Lawrence


    >> -----Original Message-----
    >> From: []On Behalf
    >> Of Steve Drew
    >> Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2002 4:11 PM
    >> To:
    >> Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #1031
    >> Hi Lawrence
    >>> Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2002 01:24:20 -0400
    >>> From: "Lawrence DeBivort" <>
    >>> Subject: RE: memetics-digest V1 #1023
    >>> Greetings, Steve,
    >>> If I follow the metaphor accurately, I think it is possible to
    >> open the box
    >>> without letting an out-of-control capability leap out and follow its own
    >>> head in spreading beyond. Thus, I think, tools may be available
    >> to those who
    >>> develop them for themselves, without the tools being replicated or
    >>> disseminated.
    >> I disagree here. A technology or tool may be developed by one person or
    >> group with one application in mind, but can be taken and used in a way not
    >> envisaged by it's creator(s). Davy invented the safety lamp to help save
    >> explosions and deaths in the pits. The result was the pits went deeper and
    >> people died of roof fall etc instead.
    >> Once a tool is created it is available for anyone to copy or steal
    >>> But this has an enormous downside: we don't get the progress we
    >> could had we
    >>> open technical discussions, nor do we see the tools
    >> disseminated to others
    >>> who might accomplish good with them.
    >>> I wrestle with these questions quite a bit, as it is one of the stated
    >>> objectives of my organization to develop and disseminate tools (meaning
    >>> management and cognitive tools) as widely as possible. I have
    >> a personal
    >>> position on this that I am maintaining for now, which I explain
    >> from time to
    >>> time on this list for what it is worth, but it provides no long-term
    >>> solution. Of course, people have wrestled with this issue throughout
    >>> history, I imagine. Generally, the stuff that works gets out.
    >> And then we
    >>> have a few counter-examples, that leave us wondering at what benefits to
    >>> humankind have been 'protected' only to be lost when their
    >> 'owners' died,
    >>> e.g. Tesla.
    >>> I would be very interested in your own ruminations on this.
    >>> Best regards,
    >>> Lawrence
    >> Not withstanding my disagreement with Wade about our levels of
    >> bloodlust in
    >> humanity, I do think as a species we do tend to screw up everything we do
    >> with the best of intentions, mostly. Once something has been created it
    >> takes a life of its own in a way. Like memes, technology and
    >> theories change
    >> as different people encounter them.
    >> Each new Pandora's box we open (and we will!) brings with it
    >> things we could
    >> not envisage. What works may not always be beneficial.
    >> Regards
    >> Steve
    >>>> -----Original Message-----
    >>>> From: []On Behalf
    >>>> Of Steve Drew
    >>>> Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2002 5:18 PM
    >>>> To:
    >>>> Subject: RE: memetics-digest V1 #1023
    >>>> Hi Lawrence
    >>>>> Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 09:57:57 -0400
    >>>>> From: "Lawrence DeBivort" <>
    >>>>> Subject: RE: memetics-digest V1 #1023
    >>>>>> Steve Drew:
    >>>>>> I think [advertisers] have learned the 'cruder' techniques
    >> such as the
    >>>>> 'sex sells'
    >>>>>> example you mentioned. I don't think it is because they are
    >>>> that good, but
    >>>>>> that they stick to ones that have been useful in the past. The
    >>>>>> problem they
    >>>>>> face is that everyone's responses are different, and IMO
    >> they have not
    >>>>>> developed enough ideas on how to overcome this yet, but if
    >>>> they do then I
    >>>>>> agree that things could get rough.
    >>>>> And that is one of the reasons we should be wary of turning
    >>>> memetics into a
    >>>>> technology and releasing it publicly. I consider this list a
    >>>> public forum.
    >>>>> Lawrence
    >>>> It is indeed. Unfortunately Pandora is still around, and so
    >> are the people
    >>>> who would open the box, including me and thee?
    >>>> Regards
    >>>> Steve

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