Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Pemetic engineering

In order to develop engineers, evolution used:

  • Organic inheritance (genes);
  • Individual learning (pemes);
  • Social learning (memes);
The engineers proceeded to develop memetic engineering and genetic engineering. However engineers also engineer individually-learned ideas, in a process that is rarely mentioned and doesn't have such a common name.

Here I'll refer to it as pemetic engineering. This is named after pemes (private memes), my preferred meme-like term for individually-learned ideas.

The topic has some overlap with rational thinking. It involves applying engineering to individual learning, and your own thoughts.

In this post, I'll make two basic points:

  • The order the engineers approached these topics is the reverse of the order in which they were originally developed - i.e. memetic engineering preceded pemetic engineering which preceded genetic engineering.

  • Pemetic engineering is interesting stuff.
The universality of language means that most ideas can be socially transmitted. However there's still a large role for individual learning. Riding a bike, for example, is maybe about 10% socially-learned and 90% individually-learned. Individual-learning is an important form of learning - and it represents a big and important topic.

Pemetic engineering involves about applying engineering techniques to individually-learned material. It's a fairly personal thing - and not very social. If something can be passed on to others, it's probably more a case of memetic engineering.

Although individually-learned ideas, by definition, have not yet been socially-transmitted, some of them are protomemes - and do go on to be transmitted socially - i.e. pemes can become memes.

Though pemes are not normally socially transmitted, pemetic engineering techniques can be. There's considerable overlap between pemetic engineering techniques and those used in memetic engineering.

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