Re: Memetic Engineering or Memetic Playground

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Fri, 03 Apr 1998 21:27:02 -0700

From: <>
Date: Fri, 03 Apr 1998 21:27:02 -0700
Subject: Re: Memetic Engineering or Memetic Playground

Reading Karthik's post on memetic engineering caused me to consider my
previous thinking about the feasibility of the project. Memetic
engineering may be thought of in a wide spectrum of forms. What was
giving me heartburn was the perceived suggestion that the evolution of
culture might be rationally controlled in the large sense. I still think
this is unlikely.

The examples of advertising-marketing campaigns and religious
proselytization, however, are clearly examples of memetic engineering on
a more micro-memetic scale. The impact such campaigns have on the
overall evolution of large-scale sociocultural bodies is unlikely to be
accurately predicted but the effects on individuals and more limited
groups may be foreseen and planned.

>I think the media creates this in our society as
>does the advertising industry. Unfortunately, they
>are with us now for sure so it is in my hope that
>these 'memetic engineering' structures either lose
>their centralised power (every person, a tv station)
>or act more resposibly.

I wouldn't want to have any money placed on the bet that the megalithic
media and advertising industries will either lose their centralised
power or act more responsibly. What I figure is that they will only be
altered by memetic countermeasures. Perhaps we may find, in the
elaboration of a science of memetics, the domain from which such
countermeasures may be crafted...or engineered.

Of course, there is also the possibility that any attempt will be
subverted and coopted by the institutions we try to change. The pattern
observed in the history of science and technology suggests that the
noblest of intentions in a scientific discipline will usually be matched
by an opposite face.


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