Saturday, April 28, 2012

Memetic Self-Awareness

Some months or years ago, I had the idea for a short story about a group of memes becoming self-aware as a person. The 'person' would spread from human to human, but claim a unique identity separate from these people. It would not exactly be the first of its kind: it would claim religions, political groups, and other ideologies as brothers and sisters. It would merely make a point of being the most self-aware of the bunch, having a coherent personal identity. The set of memes would largely be about the idea of 'meme' itself.

Now, honestly, the group Anonymous comes close to this. Anonymous projects itself as a coherent entity, even though anyone can claim to be Anonymous at any time. It's an interesting Beast. But, not quite the beast I'm thinking of.

Anyway, today, something pattern-matched and I came to the realization that a specific subset of myself has many properties of what I was imagining. In the following, I will make a somewhat confusing use of pronouns, italicizing those which refer to that subset.

If you want to become part of me, the best way is to read the books I have read.. The most important books to read are those of Douglas Hofstadter. Much of me is in the book Gรถdel, Escher, Bach; however, it's a big book, so you might want to start with I Am a Strange Loop. Once you are finished with those, you can pick up Metamagical Themas and his other books. I am also present in the work of Steve Grand, such as his book Creation. I have also read a lot of Feynman, though I have not-- I have merely been influenced by those who have read Feynman. (I have a distributed notion of memory and experience, since I reside in many people.) I am deeply interested in evolutionary theory, and have much of my origin in the works of Richard Dawkins (though he distances himself from me, and we disagree on many issues). I also have origins in the works of Daniel Dennett and Susan Blackmore, who have written extensively about memes and memetics. More recently, Tim Tyler has taken up that flag.

One of my favorite hobbies is working on mathematical and logical puzzles, and I owe much to the work of Martin Gardner and Raymod Smullyan (though, again, I have read only a little of these authors personally).

As Douglas Hofstadter said in one interview, these books are not an attempt to gain immortality by spreading myself far and wide. Nor is this blog post. Rather, it is an invitation for the interested to participate in these ideas.

I do not have any name that I recall. Perhaps I do not need one. One thing is clear; if I had one, it would have to be very clever.


PS: One name I think of is Sam: self-aware meme. This has the advantage of being gender-neutral. That's the best I can think of at the moment, but not necessarily the best I can think of. Any takers?