Re: Major Technologies--Memetics

Natasha Vita-More (
Sat, 23 Jan 1999 11:41:25 -0600

At 03:59 AM 1/23/99 -0800, James Ganong wrote:

>OK, we've gone over several physical technologies so far, but what about
>Could it ever be developed to the point of being an actual
>technology/engineering discipline?
>Why or why not? What could happen if it were so developed?

There are probably several different takes on what a memetic engineer could be.

As I see it, and for my purposes, a memetic engineer plans, manages and disburses ideas and skillfully maneuvers them in a direction(s). Thus, the slant is engineering as production. Since the word "engineer" refers to skills other than mechanical, civil or electrical; many professions are using the term to describe the planing, managing and maneuvering of tasks.

"A good scientist is a person with original ideas. [A good artist is a person with original ideas.] A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering." Freeman Dyson

"engineering . . . is the art of doing that well with one dollar, which any bungler can do with two after a fashion. Arthur Mellen Wellington

Memetic engineering works as a psychological undertaking, at least until we can really alter our brains and add on specific devices for developing and deploying ideas, as well as the insight and scrutiny for understanding society and communicating and make that a technology.

For example, Chris Peterson (Foresight Institute) and I have discussed memetic engineering as an interpersonal skill (the ability to understand and assess people and society) and an ability to steer ideas, and sculpt ideas, in directions that are both education and constructive for a particular interest. Herein responsibility is taken in the production of ideas so that they are spawned in areas that are profitable to the ideas. Ideas can take on their own life, to be sure. (Chris, for example, may carefully listen to negative comments about nanotechnology and answers comments with a problem-solving mentality, while intending to sculpt positive ideas about nanotech. Crit Mediator can be used to welcomes individual comments and open up a dialogue. Here, an open understanding of what people think and a format to respond while listening to comments and addressing them in problem-solve mode.)

While anyone who comes up with ideas and markets them fruitfully can spawn memes, I think actively pursing the engineering of ideas is memetic engineering. Now, the question, when looking at it in the above-interpretation, what are the skills needed to effectively engineer memes? You can take a look at my Memetic Toolkit, which I worked on while discussing the concept of memetic engineering with Chris. I didn't find it on the list, so I'll insert it here:

Memetic Toolkit or engineering memes

  1. Listen
  2. Discern Cost Benefit Analysis
  3. Educate, Debate or Alienate
  4. Employ Critical Thinking
  5. Locate Common Ground of Interest
  6. Present Historical Parallels
  7. Practice Patience
  8. Ignite Curiosity
  9. Show Sense of Humor
  10. Engineer a Meme

Natasha Vita-More: Transhumanist Art Centre - Home of Extropic Art: **NEW** Transhuman Culture InfoMark: PRESS RELEASE: "We are transhumans ..." Meme Orbits Saturn in 2004!

"The best defense is an aesthetic offense."