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Recombinant memetics


Paranormal Adept
Buzz phrase of the week

Recombinant Memetics
This one's quite speculative, and it's technically speaking still in the proto-science phase. But it'll only be a matter of time before scientists get a better handle on the human noosphere (the collective body of all human information) and how the proliferation of information within it impacts upon virtually all aspects of human life.
Similar to recombinant DNA (in which different genetic sequences are brought together to create something new), recombinant memetics is the study of how memes (ideas that spread from person to person) can be adjusted and merged with other memes and memeplexes (a cohesive collection of memes, like a religion) for beneficial or ‘socially therapeutic' purposes (such as combating the spread of radical and violent ideologies). This is similar to the idea of 'memetic engineering' — which philosopher Daniel Dennett suggested could be used to maintain cultural health. Or what DARPA is currently doing via their ‘narrative control' program.

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Meme complexes, "memeplexes", are groups of memes that are passed on together. Like genes, memes often coexist in groupings that further their collective survival and replication. The memeplexes with the fittest and most synergistic memes and are the ones that flourish in the memetic ecosystem, i.e. the collection of human minds.

If someone could put together a neutral carrier--a collection of memes that, like the E. coli genome, was an effective machine for reproducing itself--he could splice in whatever ideas he liked and set it loose. The recombinant memeplex would then, barring mutation, spread the message for him.
This already happens all the time. The basic self-reproducing ideas behind the chain letter or pyramid scheme have been used again and again in the service of many different ends. As our knowledge of how memes work improves, even more powerful and complex "recombinant memetics" should become possible