RE: Words and memes

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 21:11:59 GMT

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    Subject: RE: Words and memes
    Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 16:11:59 -0500
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    Thanks for the correction, Wade. I meant that Hari did not want HIS
    predictions to cause people to uncontrollable things; so he limited the time
    and place of the release so as to have more predictable impacts at key times
    of his own choosing. And, yes, his goal was to influence things when his
    atavars released their next memes.

    > On Tuesday, February 12, 2002, at 09:30 , Lawrence DeBivort wrote:
    > > IIRC, Hari Seldon was most concerned with the possibility that the
    > > predictions of psychohistory might actually influence what
    > > people did, and
    > > so defeat the prediction.
    > Nope. He _wanted_ to defeat the prediction- tens of thousands of
    > years of darkness and recovery- by _engineering_, behind the
    > scenes, a more rapid recovery, under a thousand years- using his
    > Foundation to "influence human decisions and behaviors". (And
    > they all came up against the Mule, a mutation, who bollocks it
    > all up....)
    > The Foundation was concerned about discovery, being a covert
    > operation. Like I said, I can see where Scientologists might get
    > a thrill about such power and obscurity.
    > > I have tried to accomplish this by embedding the meme within a
    > > meta-meme that address the time and place matters of
    > > dissemination of the
    > > meme, and it seemed to work pretty well, but it had nowhere near the
    > > specificity and effectiveness of control that Hari's approach did --
    > > time-controlled releases of the meme.
    > I don't think I'm alone in wanting you to relate _any_ of the
    > specifics about this. Right now, like that unicorn in my garden,
    > it's a nice tale.

    And for our purposes here, that is all it can or should be.... (I think,
    Wade, you and I have discussed why this is or isn't appropriate some time
    ago, though without end agreement.)

    > Anyway, what you are telling us you do is very much indeed like
    > Seldon's psychohistory and what his Foundation did to manage the
    > cultural development of populations.

    No, Azimov posited a far greater degree of understanding, comprehensive
    attention and scope, mastery, precision than anything possible now, or
    certainly by me or anyone that I know. I must confess that part of me
    wishes society did have this capability, and part of me is dubious that our
    wisdom and good-will is great enough to use those kinds of capabilities
    properly. I will be long dead before that kind of capability is developed,
    if it ever is, but I worry about things that take us in that direction.
    Sept. 11 and its aftermath have really shaken my confidence in people and
    our governmental institutions. VietNam was bad enough, but one could see
    more legitimate reasons for the massive mistakes we made there, and one
    could hope then that we would 'learn' from it. I don't know how this paucity
    of wisdom gets overcome. The Foundation was right to hide, and even then
    Azimov, as I recall, did not probe the issue of the internal wisdom of the
    Foundation (First or Second--am I remembering correctly?). He gave us a
    'perfect' Hari. So we have a double issue to worry about: the internal
    wisdom of any group developing anything remotely like psychohistory, and the
    external wisdom of governmental institutions to use such capabilities. Was
    the Foundation structure the closest we might come to finding an answer to
    these issues? I don't know, and would very much welcome your thoughts on


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