Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Coordination of Learned Enjoyment and Memes

If you were the master computer of an alien civilization, or the master computer network, or the giant brain in a vat that ran everything, or whatever they use to organize their cities’ activities, you wouldn’t be happy if things were disorganized and incoherent, random and contradictory. Metaphorically, if the right hand of the civilization is doing one thing and the left hand is doing another at cross-purposes, that would have to stop. Chaos means waste and inefficiency, and there would be no reason to have that. Alien civilizations that want to last a long time need to be efficient and organized, wasting little. So, you would have done something long, long ago to get everything organized.

In the hierarchy of goals that you have, way up near the top is the one about keeping the citizens healthy, happy, satisfied, and the rest of the good attributes that your creators laid down. There are more about reducing the incidence of accidents, maintaining the infrastructure and lots more, but these are means by which the higher goals of citizen welfare can be achieved. So you make sure that any cancer in a citizen is detected early, and the offending cells removed or their proteins repaired. If an accident happens, there is no need for any citizen to call you for help, as your cameras have seen it, and diagnosed it, and called the rescue robots or whatever is available to assist anyone injured. You maintain the flow of foodstuffs of high variety for taste and high nutrition for well-being. You keep the air clean, and so on. But what about the psychological health and welfare of the citizens? You had better be on that one as well.

Part of the directives stemming from the foundation period of your society have to do with the preservation of certain memes. These memes govern behavior, and relate to global principles, which are the basis for social interaction and the treatment of citizens by the governance and by themselves. Some relate to higher goals, and there may be one related to expansion into the rest of the galaxy. Or there might be nothing in this area. Either way, one of your tasks is to see these memes are absorbed by the young citizens, and there is a training regimen that includes it. Since your responsibility for the care and welfare of citizens starts as soon as they are designed and ordered, it certainly includes their learning environment and activities. This is the means by which the memes are implanted.

At the same time, in the same early layers of the young alien’s brain, likes and dislikes are created. This is not allowed to be inadvertent, but instead is designed so that society would be full of happy and satisfied members. You and everyone else in your society knows how likes and dislikes are created, and over the centuries of experience your civilization has accumulated, the best techniques for this have been figured out. So, during the same training period when memes are being taught to young citizens, their likes and dislikes are forming. Wouldn’t it be stupid to have them conflict with one another?

You are not stupid, nor is the alien civilization as a collective whole stupid. Obviously, the memes could be supported by the like and dislike collection that each young alien builds up. Society is thought to be better off with a low level of interpersonal violence, and so there is a meme which bans it. But young aliens absolutely do not learn to like it, as then there would be a conflict between what they want to do and what they know they should do. This does not produce happiness and internal calm. So young aliens learn a dislike for it, and so this dislike reinforces the meme. The dislike means there is social pressure from one alien citizen to another to not commit acts of violence against another citizen. It might be expressed, in one alien talking to another or communicating however they do it, that the meme statement is against it, but underlying the communication may be the expression of the feeling that it is a bad thing to do. From both directions, top-down meme transfer and sideways social pressure and communication, the ban on interpersonal violence is reinforced.

This means that you, the master computer, oversee the training of the young people both as to what memes are taught and as to what activities are rewarded and what are discouraged, in a repetitive way, so that reinforcement learning takes place and a like or dislike is embedded in the brain of the young alien, at a deep level. This training coordination takes place across the board, for all memes and all likes and dislikes. They match up pretty well. Citizens wind up content and calm, and the civilization continues to move forward along its stable path.

What this means is that when we talk about a category A1 civilization, which has a meme to spread its civilization to the galaxy’s habitable worlds, the citizens living in that civilization do not have reservations about doing it. They would enjoy hearing about the efforts to design or build a starship. They would like videos, or whatever they have for media, about star flight. They would want to volunteer to work on the project. They would not object to funding it. In short, whatever choices that they make, they are conditioned on them, fairly universally, liking the idea of star travel. It would make them feel competent and part of a competent society, and a host of other things that are based on the particular associations which were chosen to connect to the concept of star travel and then installed into the brains of the young aliens.

An associative brain does not simply learn about likes and dislikes when young, but continues to develop associations. So, on top of the layer that supports star travel, there might be ones which are linked to individuals involved with it in some noticeable roles. They could become the VIPs of the civilization, not to a large extent, but achieving above the average level of notoriety. Starship conceptual designs might become the motif for decorating living spaces. Discussion groups, informal or formal, might form to collect and refine suggestions for how to perform some aspect of space travel. Thus, if there is a meme for star travel, as in those categories of alien civilization previously mentioned, there would also be a pervasive occurrence of things related to it, based in a deep sense on the early training of the youth to coordinate their inner thoughts with the meme’s goals. This helps understand how alien civilizations of different categories would differ, and it appears the differences would be great.

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