We have an interesting real-life example of how alliance networks can form and how they transform the functional structure (3) of a memetic system (memeplex). We consider a case of two sisters, Amy, the older, and Betty, the younger, where some candy has been placed out of Betty's reach, but where Amy is still able to get at it.
The parents have set the candy is off-limits. Amy is able to get the candy, and Betty is able to complain, which could potentially attract the parents and get Amy into trouble.
We see a behavior where the two sisters cooperate, and we take a look at what form this cooperation takes in the structure of the memetic system when they do so, and how that might shed light on how memetic alliance networks behave generally.
State Transition Diagram
The starting state of the memeplex is GoodGirls where Amy has not yet tried to get the candy. The next state which may be reached is StoleCandy when Amy gets the candy down and starts eating it, or the amy.eat! meme, since Betty is not able to get the candy or eat it herself.
|Figure 1. State Transition Diagram for Candy Conspiracy Memeplex|
Once Amy has gotten into the candy, Betty is free to whine! to attract the parents and get Amy into trouble, which takes the system into ParentsAlerted, which is a terminal state.
A quick note about the whine! meme. It is effectively an immunomeme (5), and is directed against Amy's deployment of amy.eat! As such, we can imagine the following notation:
There is some redundancy here. Obviously Betty deploying the whine! meme is in response to Amy's eat! candy, since they are already in the StoleCandy state, but it does drive home the point that Betty's whining is in direct response to Amy's eating, and indeed the actual meme, e.g., Betty crying out, "Mom! Amy's eating the candy!" actually encapsulates the eat! meme deployed by Amy. This is effectively a notational representation for a parametric immunomeme deployment, and as such may carry a great deal of explanatory power. Do immunomemes always have this kind of self-referential property? We'll look at this some more later.
If Amy managed to get the candy put away again, i.e., deploy the hide! meme, before they wind up in the terminal ParentsAlerted state, they are back in the GoodGirls state and Betty no longer has the whine! meme available for deployment.
Deployment Descriptor Inventory
A key thing we observed in our real-life example was that Amy gave Betty some candy. This does a number of things in the system, as we can see in the diagram. Betty now has the choice between whine! and eat! Betty is still free to whine!, but she would be implicated in the crime, since she is also eating the candy, and the supply of candy would then be cut off.
Let's take a quick look at the memetic inventory of the memeplex.
- GoodGirls.amy.eat! => StoleCandy
- StoleCandy.amy.eat! => StoleCandy
- StoleCandy.amy.hide! => GoodGirls
- StoleCandy.betty.whine(amy.eat!)! => ParentsAlerted
- StoleCandy.amy.bribe(betty)! => Conspiracy
- Conspiracy.betty.whine(amy.eat!)! => ParentsAlerted
- Conspiracy.eat! => Conspiracy
- Conspiracy.amy.hide! => GoodGirls
Table 1. Memetic Inventory Deployment Descriptors
Here I want to consider what I'm calling memetic alliance networks. In our real-life example, Amy gave Betty candy. This gave Betty a larger memetic inventory to choose from, and greater equality, resulting in greater opportunity for memetic resonance (mutual participation in a shared activity, decreased chance for residual memetic debt (1)). Increasing the memetic inventory of an agent generally lessens the risk of alienation by making memetic destitution (2) more remote. It is as yet unclear if these are universal properties of alliance networks.
We know from the first law of macromemetics, however, that deployment of a meme produces a state transition. Since neither of the two existing states, StoleCandy or ParentsAlerted, can be the target of this transition, since both sisters can deploy the eat! meme in the target state, we must have a new state in which both sisters can deploy eat!, i.e., the new state, Conspiracy.
Betty still has unilateral ability to whine! or not. We've considered whine! to be an immunomeme, and so not whining, or
whine! is a suppressed immunomeme or anti-immunomeme. Betty's continually "deploying" this anti-immunomeme is what enables both of them to go on eating. Let's extend our earlier notation for immunomemes:
whine(amy.eat!)!amy.eat! => Conspiracy
whine(amy.eat!)!betty.eat! => Conspiracy
Table 2. Alliance-Based Memes
Or, to combine the two cases:
whine(amy.eat!)!eat! => Conspiracy
This may bring us to the crux of the nature of memetic alliances. An ally is characterized by two things. The first is creating an opportunity for the beneficiary to deploy memes that they could not otherwise. The second is suppression of immunomemes that would impede the beneficiary from successfully deploying memes.
Here we see that Betty is an ally to Amy by suppressing immunomemes where she herself is the would-be deploying agent, i.e., declining to exercise a bullying opportunity available to her. This allows Amy to eat candy, and it also allows Betty to eat the candy. This example may point to the memetic advantages conferred upon an ally by being an ally, but is perhaps incomplete.
Summary and Conclusions
The fact that in this real-life case the younger sister chose the alliance over ratting her sister out to her parents suggests that she is not starved for parental attention, since she had a sure-fire way to get it, but declined to do so. Many children would capitalize on such a chance to enhance their own status and force their parents to become involved.
We're narrowing down how immunomemes work and have developed a promising new notation. Immunomemes operate on the deployment of other memes, with the object of thwarting or redirecting the state transition that goes along with it. The notation immunomeme(meme!)! or more completely:
State1.agent2.immunomeme(agent1.meme) => DivertedState
...solves a lot of the problems I have been wrestling with regarding the categorization of immunomemes.
Finally, this real-life case suggests some ideas which I hope to elaborate further elsewhere about how memetic alliance networks change a memeplex. A couple of obvious observations are that agents that enter into alliances with one another automatically expand the inventory of memes available to all of them, which helps to fend off memetic destitution and its accompanying alienation. This opens up promising avenues for dealing with violence, dysfunction, and apathy generally. Conflicts may be reduced, as we see in this example, by making a choice of memes available to individuals who may have had little or none, or where immunomemes were the only options. Whether a memeplex always becomes more egalitarian in the wake of alliances remains to be seen, and stands as an interesting question to be explored further.
(1) Residual Memetic Debt: related to the concepts of marking and closure, roughly characterized as how well the memetic agent perceives that the memetic interaction has been concluded. A memetic loop is opened when a memetic agent deploys a meme, and said loop is closed when the expected response is received. Opening a memetic loop incurs memetic debt which is paid back upon closing of the loop. If the memetic debt is not (perceived as being) paid back, residual memetic debt is incurred. The ramifications of residual memetic debt are far-reaching, and beyond the scope of this paper.
(2) Memetic Destitution: closely linked to violence, by the way, in fact, may be the ultimate source for expressions of violence in all human societies. Refers to a shortage of memes available for the agent to choose from. Alienation is the result of memetic destitution.
(3) A memetic system (memeplex) consists of a collection of memetic agents, memes, and states, and a description of which memes are able to be deployed by which agents in which states and which states are transitioned to when said memes are deployed. A memeplex may be characterized by a state transition diagram, a set of memetic deployment descriptors, or a set of transition matrices, see (4).
(4) A deployment descriptor, is a complete description of what is involved when a meme is deployed, or "expressed." They look like this:
StartMemeticState.agent.meme! => TargetMemeticState
Memes are in lowercase and followed by an exclamation mark (!). Agents are in lowercase. Memetic States are in CamelCaps. The memetic inventory of a state, or of an agent in a state, or of a whole system, is the list of all deployment descriptors in that system. A deployment descriptor list, a state transition diagram, and a set of state transition matrices are in principle all homeomorphic and convey the same information in different forms.
(5) Immunomeme: a meme whose primary function is to impede curtail the deployment of memes that "change" a memetic system, namely, prevent the transition of the system from one state to the next by thwarting the resonance of a given meme. Immunomemes are responsible for the stability of memeplexes over time, i.e., preventing mutation and the introduction of new memes.