While I have been posting updates with segments from the audio book, this Kickstarter is for a novel after all, so I thought I would leave a written passage. Like any clip, it needs a set-up.
In a previous update, I commented on the novel’s overall structure, main story chapters separated by short backstory chapters. These backstory chapters touch on historical points that relate to the main story and the novel’s overall message, and move forward through time.
This pattern holds for half of the work. Eventually the backstories catch up with the time setting of the main story. There is just one gap to fill – the span of time between the real world, i.e. now, and a century from now when the story begins. That gap is handled as a backstory, but unlike the other backstory chapters, it is longer and it deals with conjecture and fiction rather than historic points.
One of the principle characters in the story is an old man named Alex Ford. Joshua is friends with Alex – he prefers to be called Ford – and has learned about the past through Ford’s tales. We would call Ford a Millennial. In the novel, he is called an Original, a person born essentially now, who has lived into the time setting of the story itself. His life is the backstory that fills the gap between now and when the story begins.
The chapter is, “Chapter 12: Ford’s Time”.
The chapter talks about the troubles and woes we are all familiar with – climate change, political and social unrest, economic inequality, terrorism, war. It also talks about the Singularity – the technological explosion that will change the world, and how the emergence of Artificial Intelligence solves those woes. You will note references to the following terms: Reconstruct, Upgrade, and Larper. These are explained in the novel, but for quick reference here: Larpers are modified humans that are linked into the greater networks, yep, Live Action Role Players. Upgrades are humans with nanite or other enhancements. Reconstruct, the passages probably explain it well enough.
Here are two tiny excerpts from the chapter.
Those who possessed a lot put a lot of pressures on those who possessed so little. It was not out of malice, or even out of blindness. It was simply the way things were done. The goal was to maintain the status quo, and to get more. It was the nature of the game, at least from their perspective. They used technology to learn more about people. As computers got smaller and more widespread, they found ways to gather even the smallest tidbits of information. In claims that ranged from national security to providing the customer with a more engaging experience, the daily habits of people were gathered right down to their name and where they were standing at any given moment, and their primary belief, and their favorite drink.
All this was happening at a time when global populations were demanding more liberty. Little did they realize that being more free meant being more monitored and controlled. With unrest growing, security became an issue. Unfortunately, you cannot be free and secure. To be safe some freedoms must be sacrificed. To be free some risks must be accepted. All this happened at a time when the globe was in a fever of climatic proportions due to the abundance of overabundance, which created spots of scarcity and spots of waste. While quietly in the background, the machines were waking up.
Those in power did not fully realize what they were doing. They wanted more information about the people so they could better market their wares, so they demanded smarter computers. They wanted more information about the people so they could keep their borders safe, so they demanded smart computers that could keep track of movements. They wanted secretive ways of tracking the transfer of everything from drugs to coyotes, so they demanded computers in drones. They wanted smarter weapons controlled from the other side of the globe, so they sent machine smarts through the ether. They wanted to be able to manage their empires from the comfort of a yacht, so they demanded the smartest computers be available through the clouds.
Through years of interaction with each individual, the AIs ascertain the desire of the person. Even if the subject has never been broached, in those fleeting moments following a fatal wound, the AIs, at the speed of light, enter the consciousness before it slips away and gives all individuals an option. In those final mortal moments, the sequence of one’s consciousness can be copied or moved into a machine. One’s memories and affections, gut instinct and repulsions can live on in a Reconstruct so accurate that not even the AIs are smart enough to determine if the actual person continues to live or has died. Consciousness could live on.
Some feel there is a cost, a loss. At what point do you become no longer human? Is there a point when you stop being you? Some consider it only an elaborate photo album, a remembrance with such meticulous resolution that the only difference is the knowledge it had happened. Can you exist inside the machine, or is the machine a new being very much like you? Would you lose your soul? For some the knowledge of the event is enough. Others see no difference at all. Do you have a soul to lose? Is your consciousness your soul? Can you prove it? Neither point, death nor continuation, could be proven. Become Upgrade or Larper, Reconstruct or pass away, the choice was ours. The AIs, through Central Planning, leave the choice to the individual.
It is not utopia. Utopia is like tomorrow. It is always coming but it never arrives. Paradise and the Promised Land are always on the horizon, always ahead of you, impossible to reach. It is as close to Xanadu and the White Shores that the emotional nature of humans will allow. The good times had arrived.