Artwork by the Miro Shot Collective
WELCOME TO THE FUTURE
A (W.T2.F.) Sunday Series
–Short Story Time–
For those of you who have been following my blog since the beginning, Sunday fiction was at one point a weekly occurrence as a way to explore current and future tech in current and future societies. Some of those stories have been selected for Virtual Futures, 2018 and 2019. After a special request to bring back a speculative fiction short- I give you:
At the Looper station Andy watched tourists gaze through the inviting glow of the store walls. Each store was lined with a translucent border floating passively in the cool of the air conditioned platform.
For Andy though, these borders were a problem. The slightest whiff of his bio-presence set the particles in a frenzy, zapping him with anti-body ultrasonic waves and overloading his senses.
These walls had no computer server to hack, and no power to shut them down. Andy’s bio-record simply could not be permitted to enter. So said the system that informed the worlds global AI interface.
Andy would never forget the sound of the sirens, the hands pulling his body out and throwing him on the street to the blue uniformed jackles. These wild dogs would sniff crimes out of nothing. It was the excitement of a catch that had suited them that night. New age police with a new shiny name is all they were. Hound dogs, sniffing the trail of pixels and blockchain with a team of pale hackers, captivated by the rush of the code, to back them up with evidence. Evidence.
Still permitted to gain an education, a solid student debt and low level jobs that someone had to do to support the high lifers, Andy knew he wouldn’t survive in a world where bot-like behavior ruled all. He became a computer psychologist. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. These days, it was hard to differentiate at times. Was it human, machine, or both that chased the tail of his thoughts?
Computer-human interactions were tense. They were stressful for humans, and stressful for the AI. When neither really had to interact with the other, the System was working. When humans didn’t have to think about the mind behind the machine day to day, the System was perfect. Just like the shimmering and passive walls that were a part of everyday organization and as an invisible boundary (to most), the machine was (un)observed as a part of the natural environment.
A mosquito like hum indicated to Andy that he was becoming visible to the System. The administrators still hadn’t cracked the code to differentiate between the unpredictable actions of children, and criminals, so Andy still had some leeway before absolute detection. It’s the gray area he’d been waiting for, nervously.
He moved his head slowly as the hum neared, and he pinpointed its location. With relaxed and smooth gestures, nothing abnormal, Andy grasped the critter from midair.
I have a question, said Andy.
You have a question?
Yes, I was waiting for you. For me? said the Critter.
For you, said Andy.
How can I be of help?
Can you come with me? Andy asks. I have to show you something.
The station buzzes and Andy loses track of the sound of the Critter, but he can feel it begin to emit soft waves in his hand as its processing power, or CPU chip, whirs as its sense of curiosity is sparked.
Can you come with me? Andy asks again. I have to show you something that you haven’t seen before.
He maintains the same steady tone, mild manner, and gentle facial features. The Critter won’t detect the sweat dripping under his arms, down his neck, and the side of his face. This little thing was only a part of the machine. One of the bees in the machine’s mind.
A (W.T2.F.) Series
A Short Story by Anne McKinnon
This story was inspired by surveillance technology and computer vision that is used to identify and track people and objects. From art to social life and social measures- the range of applications and implications are subject to a user’s discretion. Check this example at Sighthound.