Friday, 19 April 2013

Memetic engineering

The term "Memetic Engineering" refers to deliberative meme creation, modification and combination. It was named after genetic engineering.

Many memes and memeplexes are engineered - rather than being the product of unconscious selective forces.

Engineered memes are used in marketing, advertising, entertainment, politics, warfare, religion and education - among other fields.


Many techniques are used while engineering memes. Prominent among them are:

One of the techniques used in genetic engineering involves recombinant DNA. Memetic engineering similarly features recombinant memes.

As with practically any engineering project, memetic engineering is likely to involve an iterative generate and test cycle - as well as use of evaluation under simulation.

Memes interact with the human brain - specialists in psychology are often involved. Many modern memes also interact with computers - and modern memetic engineers often use computer networks to distribute their products.

Memes typically face prepared memetic immune systems. Penetration can be assisted by finding holes in the defenses, disabling them or taking advantage of naturally-weakened states.

Once memes are engineered, they are distributed using seeding. One technique there is big seeding.


An early example of a deliberately-engineered meme was described in Wired magazine - in the form of Mike Godwin's Meme, Counter-meme article.

Another example is music videos. Gangnam Style was memetically engineered - and now has over 2 billion views - an indication of its success.

Web sites

Within the last decade various memetic engineering sites have sprung up associated with internet memes - among them the imageboard 4chan and a wide range of image macro generators.

Double-edged sword

Like most powerful technologies, memetic engineering is a positive force which also has significant negative potential. Social engineers could use memetic engineering to create a benevolent utopia - as envisaged by B. F. Skinner. However, today, memeticallly engineered pathogens currently cause a significant quantity of damage. In particular the obseity epidemic, addictive drugs, pornography, movies and computer games represent widespread memetically-engineered plagues.

In some areas, indoctrination targetted at children uses memetically-engineered propaganda to turn kids into soldiers. In other cases, memetic engineering is used to recruit new cult members. Memes can have a dark side - and engineered memes are not excluded from this.


Genetic engineering has acquired a dubious reputation. With memetic engineering the situation is less clear. Few object to engineered memes on the grounds that they are engineered - since so many memes are engineered.

Sometimes engineered memes are inferior to their naturally-evolved counterparts. For example, Esperanto is a memetically engineered language. It was designed - rather than evolving over a long period of time - and has a very regular grammar. However it is widely recognized that Esperanto sucks. This situation mirrors some of the objections that are made to genetic engineered products.


Much as Eugenics is a movement based on improving the human genes in the gene pool, eumemics is a movement based on improving the memes in the meme pool. As with eugenics there are "positive" and "negative" forms of eumemics. However unlike eugenics, eumemics seems relatively uncontroversial.


While genetically engineered pathogens are rare and cause little damage, memetically engineered pathogens are common, largely unregulated, and cause damage in a massive scale. While there are some attempts to restrict addictive drugs, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine are widely available and many millions are addicted.

Consciousness spectrum

Memetic engineering can be seen as one end of a spectrum, that runs from natural selection, through unconscious selection and domestication to engineering.

Books (fact)

Books (fiction)


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