Social Success, August 2020
The heavy glass doors slid open—whoosh—the only sound in the hallway besides their footsteps. From ear to ear, a man smiled, though forced as it was required of him. He had been a good participant today.
He was arrested for failing to watch the Daily Bootstrap: a visionary program dedicated to telling the harrowing stories of trillionaires—how they built themselves up from nothing—and you can too.
In custody, he was treated pleasantly, made comfortable, and only after passing an exam on our true economic warriors was he allowed to leave. Not without a deduction of social credit, however. For being arrested was costly—how else could we as a society pay for the brave Social Success force?
Our trillionaires, who art in towers, struggle every day to keep us safe; providing the much needed funding for our social programs that keep us clothed, fed, and a roof over our heads.
A scan of his face at the checkout counter provided the system with confirmation of his identity. -250 credits. He wasn’t a handsome man, born to two service industry workers. He went through college on his parent’s social credit and found himself on the other side as an assistant to the AI editor of a SuccessTube channel.
A drawer slid out from under the checkout screen, in it his glasses, ring, and phone. Grabbing them, a chime played on the screen, “Thanks for participating. Don’t forget to Like, Comment, and Abide.”
“He’s going off script! Get ready to meme! I want every little aspect of his performance contrasted with the sentiment.
Adjust the algo for full sarcasm. Sprinkle some self deprecation and leave the brutal truth where it is. I want these out the door as quick as he drops them. This is going to get messy.”
The room was abuzz with political satire. The junior campaign staff worked quickly to capture the real-time pulse of the social web, feeding that emotion back into the system. Tags flowed from the scrapers giving the staff plenty to feed to meme machine. Surreal memes, dark humour, classic tropes. The machine created them all. As soon as the memes were spat out, the team would approve or scrap them, training the machine how to adapt to the situation. Here’s your brief before the meeting.” The virtual assistant added a range of insights to the lenses in her glasses.
Approved memes were fed to a campaign bot manager and sent on their merry way to dilute the conversation about the candidate. They softened any conversation, flooded the chatter with jokes, destroyed any analysis of the words the candidate was really saying. All the memes worked on the basis of ongoing campaign narrative, mixed with the folly of the moment. The memes were more of a candidate than the meat puppet at the podium. The memes disseminated the narrative of the campaign in the language of the people. The memes controlled the masses.
Late Night Alley Air Raid, January 2020
Cobblestone rolled under his stumbling feet like tiny hills. The night air was still and bathed in thick humidity. Blue light from a late-night gelateria washed his skin with a welcoming glow, but Xiang was searching for something salty, something to satisfy his boozy stupor. Squinting through his glasses, he followed the augmented pathway down a darkened alley toward—hopefully—another night market or square that would be bustling with tourists and snacks.
A familiar buzz began behind him: the hum and whirl of rotors. It got louder and louder, quickly passing over his head. A drone. What kind of knob uses a drone at midnight, Xiang thought. The drone spun around near the end of the alley and began speeding toward him. Closer and closer it whizzed toward Xiang. Concerned, he looked over his shoulder, and back to the drone. It wasn’t stopping. He tapped the side of his glasses to identify the drone. Nothing. It was aiming for Xiang—getting closer. Xiang braced himself and ducked. It stopped—hovering half a metre from his head. Xiang could feel the thrust of the rotors, like knives spinning just an arms length from his face. A speaker on the drone shouted,
“Metti gli oggetti di valore a terra e vai via!”
Confused, his hands still guarding his face, Xiang barked, “what?!” The drone paused for a moment, it beeped,
“Put valuables on ground and walk away!”
Xiang couldn’t believe it. “You’ve gotta be kidding me.” He stood for a moment with an annoyed look on his face before turning around to walk back toward the gelateria. The drone buzzed over his head, just grazing his hair.
“Give your valuables or we will kill you!” The speaker on the drone shouted. The drone spun around and made another attempt at Xiang’s head. He ducked, but this time the drone dropped charges. Loud snaps of gun powder popped around Xiang’s ankles. Dancing in pain, he looked down in disbelief to see abrasions on his legs from metal scrap in the charges. Clever bastards. The drone spun back, and shouted, “Put valuables on ground!”
This time Xiang obeyed, dropping his phone and wallet. He ran back toward the gelato shop as the drone collected his belongings and whizzed away. “I just got mugged by a drone!” The shop owner looked puzzled, “Gelato?”
Augemented Due Diligence, January 2020
10:23 PM. Laura rubbed her eyes. She felt like a vagabond having been to Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney and Lahore all in the span of hours. In seven minutes she’d be in Seoul. Taking a sip of her tailored nutrient latte she reached for her AR glasses.
“Welcome Laura. Here’s your brief before the meeting.” The virtual assistant added a range of insights to the lenses in her glasses.
“Show me their projections.”
A series of graphs and charts popped into view, Laura moved them with gestures in the air, zooming in and out of the time scale.
“Apply a force multiplier to the social axis.”
The graphs changed showing possible futures based on autonomously gathered trends. She swiped through the charts – new insights popped up as she adjusted time horizons, financials, and social scenarios.
“The meeting is about to start. Shall I introduce you?” The assistant interrupted.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Laura spun around in her chair facing the doorway of her office. The cold blue light of the hallway spilled into the room.
Ba-ding “Hello Jae Moon. This is Laura, she’s a partner at Maple Lake Capital. Laura, this is Jae Moon, founder of Moon Dust Labs. I’ll leave you two to get acquainted.” The virtual assistant stepped out through the open door and disappeared down the hallway. Laura always wondered where the hell she went.
Jae Moon, lifelike, a trickery of light and sound appeared in front of Laura. He began to speak – his words translated from Korean to English, his voice synthesized by the system to sound just like Jae Moon. Initially it was always surreal, but within seconds it would feel normal. Trickery. The future of international business.
The internet needs a library card, August 2019
I should be able to purchase a pass to read anything I want. Paywalls are awful.