In the last article in this series, I introduced everyone to the concept of an idea being a distinct entity in its own right, as identified by Richard Dawkins. I also explained the mechanisms behind manipulation and the viral nature of ideas. Today, I want to take everyone past the basics of this that have been well discussed over the years. I want to show you something new.
A Background In Memetics
Before we continue, let's give everyone a crash course in Memes and Memetics. Richard Dawkins, the inventor of the theory, will provide the best explanation. This video is about 2 minutes long:
Let's now extend that new found knowledge by placing Memes in the context of evolutionary processes. This video is about 3 minutes long:
Now that you know what a Meme is, let's give a proper name to an idea that is virus-like, a Memetic virus. The definition of a Meme is as follows:
A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme.
Thus, a Memetic virus is a Meme that compels the receiver to re-broadcast that information either verbatim, or in modified form. As such, we can argue that this mechanism is closely related to OCD. That is, it induces a compulsion to act. Thus, the study of Memetic viruses strikes at the heart of freewill, choice, volition and agency. In short, it is an investigation into remote control.
If we turn to my work on Voodoo we can cast this problem in a different light. We can say, that incoming energy moves around the brain as a series of chemical reactions (kinetic motion), receives a signal boost and is echoed in a selective manner, perhaps with slight alterations. This Memetic Virus may be held in a temporary or permanent fashion in memory, or it may make alterations to the synaptic pathways, thus living on as a form of behavior or response. This latter process may get written back to DNA. This latter process may also require analysis to account for group dynamics and I'll discuss this in a moment.
This somewhat implies that the Meme is bypassing control, or bypassing filtering, that is normally applied to incoming information. A little like Tourettes syndrome. For example, we remember things because information gets to it destination, short/mid/long term memory, so a Memetic virus is one that travels with very little energy loss along a particular pathway. This provides insight into a method of 'killing a meme'; make the pathway costly in terms of energy loss.
Whilst I have written about ideas and the virus like nature, I have avoided the topic of what creates these Memes. Memes are modulated information, as such, the information is encoded by the chemical processes of the brain. Now, a Meme is not restricted to an idea, Memes come in all forms, from social cues, to learned behaviors. Most likely, we as a species, pick up a significant amount of unconscious information from our environment in such a manner that assists us in remaining 'compatible' with the various food sources, etc.
In the last article, I observed a pattern in the Memes that were generated by Hitler and Martin Luther that suggested a common underlying origin. This suggests that the underlying processes that modulated this information have the function of creating viral encodings, or at least give rise to viral encoding on a statistical basis as a function of their operation. The strongest theory at present, is that this is an evolutionary process that is designed to kick-start a cull of the population. That is, the brain receives incoming triggers from its environment, certain genes are activated and a solution manifests as a 'rationalization', or insight, into a particular problem the conscious mind is tasked with. A subtly embedded genetic agenda.
If it is a functional solution, it then quickly spreads amongst a 'compatible' group. This then cascades into polarization. The polarization comes from those who reject a Meme; they are physically incompatible with it. That said, this 'incompatible' group then generates its own counter-Meme which spreads amongst that group. If the Memes trigger the correct areas in the brain, that have limited control or filtering, conflict begins.
What is really happening here is the evolutionary control of an energy budget. It is a complex form of Apoptosis signalling, or programmed cell death. The equivalent of walking down a corridor with a sign on your back saying 'Kick Me', it pits two or more groups against each other, for the sole purpose of reducing their populations. This leads to 'survival of the fittest' and the passing along of genes that are best adapted to survival under the current conditions.
Thus, any ideology or Memetic virus drawn from this process is clearly a feral response. Nationalism, imperialism, fasicm, neoliberalism, communism, socialism, and any 'ism' you care to mention are a form of this process. In most cases, these Memes can be resisted. We can choose to not share a cat pic. Thus in many cases the social, political and military issues that manifest are a problem with manners, ethics and breeding which, in most cases, can be traced to a rebellious youth, childhood trauma, poor company, brain damage, drugs, education, mental illness and/or family problems, etc. That said, some may not be so simple and the choice we think we have may not exist.
At the point of creation, the consequences of a particular Memetic Virus may not be readily apparent. It may not also be clear that such a Meme is indeed a feral response, for example, in the case of Martin Luther his Memes were entirely unrelated to the events which it sparked in the form of the wars after the Reformation. That is, it was the mutation that was dangerous, not Martin Luther's work.
Thus, our modern world, is the product not of a clash of cultures, but the clash of feral attitudes and beliefs. A clash of Memetic Virus, the Feral Enlightenment Period. (#Feppers :) )
It is here where things begin to take a twist. We have talked about Memes arising as a product of an individual idea, but how about Memes that arise as an emergent property of interaction? You hurt me, I hurt you, repeat the process until we have full scale militaries. Whilst an over-simplification of the process, it serves to highlight that some of Memetic Viruses may, much like striking a match, be the product of a long period of interaction. Such Memetic Viruses have co-evolved in parallel with us as a species and, indeed, other species as well. Such Memetic Viruses are extremely complex, involving memory, learning, behavior, emotional responses, etc.
If we now look back to Memes such as Martin Luther's we can observe how these evolutionary 'defensive Meme' co-opts these news Memes as a vehicle for kicking off an apoptosis cycle. That is, it uses it as an interface layer to volition and control of groups, a pathway to higher brain function and communication. The emotional and cognitive maipulation is given a divisive voice that masks the genetic agenda.
Where it really gets weird is that, if we look at the process objectively, these Memetic Viruses have access to a malleable network of processing nodes. Essentially, a supercomputer, composed of a network of human minds. Thus, the Memetic Virus has the ability to learn, adapt and evolve based on the activity of the nodes on that network.
In essence, a complex Memetic Virus can accurately be described as a biological form of AI tasked with optimizing a specific evolutionary function.
Earlier in this series of articles, I was treating this as a disease model, but does an evolutionary AI fall into the category of a disease? Do we still require this evolutionary hang-over? Or can we manage our own affairs? What are the implications of terminating its role, or at least turning the volume down?
Mankind is at an evolutionary cross-roads. One where, for the first time in human history, we have a choice. Do we continue with our feral mode of behavior? Our various 'isms'. Or do we seek to end or reduce the effects of this Memetic interloper with technological means?
There are a range of choices, the most natural of which is an anti-virus solution. The other solutions range from medication, to genetic engineering to suppress regions of the brain, which invokes visions of '1984,' 'A Clockwork Orange' and every other dystopian movie.
It is a hard choice and one that is swiftly coming. It is time to consider this seriously, before it is exploited by yet another variation of this Memetic Virus.