RE: Major Technologies--Memetics

Billy Brown (
Mon, 25 Jan 1999 19:17:28 -0600

Anders Sandberg wrote:
> You mean like the psychology of persuasion/attitude change or
> advertisement psychology? Both are areas where quite a bit of serious
> reasearch is going on. But most of it is non-memetic, i.e. relies on
> direct exposure rather than spread from other people.

Yes. These areas could eventually lead to real memetic engineering. The thing that is lacking now is predictability - 90% of everything is based on personal opinion, hunches, and guesswork. In principle it ought to be possible to put the field on a firmer footing than that.

> Actually, this is an interesting angle to add in the above fields, how
> to create a mindset able to resist these methods. There are
> publishable research papers in it :-)

The subject deserves a lot more attention than it gets. Of course, I'm not sure how you would perform an experiment...

> Note that this is a skill that hinges very sensitively on being able
> to participate in human social contexts, judging reactions from small
> cues and modelling the reactions of a human. SIs are only dangerous in
> this respect if you believe that intelligence is completely general,
> and not specialized (which is becoming a more and more common view
> among psychologists).

Hmmm. Not exactly.

The simple-minded view says 'intelligence is completely general, so an SI can do anything with ease'. I don't subscribe to that. The opposite informed view says 'intelligence is a composite of many different factors, which are mostly unrelated, so the SI will still be bad at some things'. I don't buy that either.

This is a very long discussion to get into. I'm writing up a full explanation of my current theories about it at the moment - would you be interested in a copy?

Billy Brown, MCSE+I