Way Back Machine: Kingdom Come

Some other pseudo-religious sci-fi I wrote last century. Look, I was in my thirties then, in grad school, having just seen “The Matrix”. Don’t judge.

Kingom Come

The decree came with two capsules — one green, one blue.

Green would release a DNA program
to convert the implants in our cerebral cortex,
the ones that connected our brains to every other human,
and write them into our genes.
Instead of mandatory implantation at age two,
future children would inherit their connection
to the Global Mind at birth.
Green meant that you chose to join the Global Mind.
Green meant the birth of a new species.

Homo Christus

Blue would release a nano computer to dismantle the current implant
and leave no replacement.
Blue meant a return to the human past.
Blue meant that you could be alone, your own person.

Homo Sapiens.

I’d never had that choice before. I’m not sure I wanted it.
It was like being offered a choice of whether to breathe.

Still there were some who didn’t want to be connected.
They *did* want a choice.

The Ascent to Homo Christus must be entirely voluntary, the Ecclesia
decreed.

That hadn’t been voluntary since way before I was born.

I had to read about those early times in history class.
I had been taught about the age when there was still disease.
When there was crime, when there was war.
Did you know, people actually died because they had too little food or
water?
Amazing. We stared at our teacher, disbelieving.

Yes, he said, before the Global Mind people could be
completely independent of one another.
People had no way to feel the results of their actions.
It must have been like being born blind, I thought to myself.

But after the Atlanta Flu and the resulting Nano-Wars,
the few million humans that were left made a dramatic,
some say drastic, change.

Free Will would be preserved, but independence was outlawed.

The implants made empathy mandatory.
Our central nervous systems were wired together.
You could not commit a crime
without feeling the pain of your victim.
Noone could hoarde food and water without
sharing in the desperation of those they deprived.
By taking on some of our neighbors’ pain,
we lessened their suffering.
We learned to share in their joy as well.
We learned to share in general.

We were free to make our own choices,
but we were not allowed to be ignorant
of the consequences others had to endure.

Now, after two hundred years, we could now choose.
Green or blue. Stay or leave. Advance or retreat.
The next stage of humanity, the next step toward the divine,
could not be mandatory. The Ecclesia called it Judgement,
but if is was so, it was a self-judgement.

Most of us took our green pills.
We were told to expect a slight fever,
a stiff neck for a few days.
Some took the blue ones and felt, peculiarly, nothing at all.

The few months after that day were indescribable.
It felt right.
Like you fit perfectly no matter what.
Like you were home.

The blues walked among us.
We provided for their every need
and we left them to do as they pleased.
Alone by choice,
cut off from the Global Mind,
the blues walked as if in solitary hell.
We tried to convey our sadness and love for them
but our words fell clumsily in the space between us.
And words were all we had in common.
Some blues were defiant and angry.
Some changed their mind
and wanted the green pill after all.
We weren’t sure that was possible.
We referred them to the Ecclesia.
We hoped they could make it in.
We hoped they would make it in time.

So now, months after the Judgement
the days started getting longer
until night has quit falling at all.
Our bodies took on a strange glow
which grew until we have begun to shine.
We noticed that we are sleeping less,
and we no longer dream.

The Ecclesia have disbanded,
claiming their own irrelevance.

We are expectant, excited.

And when the Final Things come
We will return as light to the light.
Saying:
“Thy Kingdom Come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.”

Way Back Machine: Versions

I paid my crossimpact.net bill last week. Two more years. I figure I need to use this for something. I don’t know exactly where my writing mojo went, but I am not discouraged enough not to re-up on my domain name.

I was going through some old files and came across something I wrote back in 2001. See, I used to write stuff and enjoy doing it. Maybe I’ll do it again someday. I just paid 60 bucks to save my space for another two years, so…

Anyway, here’s what I wrote. Very futures-ish. Intended to be funny.

Successfully? You be the judge.

Versions

I had to terminate myself the other day.

no, there’s no body,
no smoking gun,
just some empty disk space
where I used to be.

Versions of me, that is.

my friend works for this startup,
he recruited me as a beta tester:
you’ll get a kick out of this he said
he had me sign some waivers
I should have read more carefully
and then he gave me the box.

don’t i get a demonstration? i said
you shouldn’t need one, that’s part of the test — usability.
it should be easy to make working copies of your mind.
send them out to do work, watch TV, take classes.
And upload the new experiences later, at your leisure.

The scans could be configured with your choice of three interfaces:
DiskMe — a living version of you on with a GUI front-end
WebMe — an intelligent web bot with your mind as a driver
EmbedMe — a version of you that could be loaded into any machine with a CPU and enough memory

i put my first scan — me 2.0 — to work as a WebMe
do that quarterly report, i said
and gather the trends research.
he knew just what I meant because he was, well, me
i’d go to the office, he’d surf the net doing research. that was the plan.
i came home from work that day. report was done. research looked good.
just like i’d have done it.
this was cool.
so we’d separate every day and have
— literally —
a meeting of the minds each evening
and catch each other up.
i was a good team. my productivity doubled.

until i found out how naughty i’d been.
2.0 apparently didn’t have enough work to keep him busy
2.0 didn’t take lunch or bathroom breaks
2.0 didn’t engage in water cooler gossip
what 2.0 did was cruise the VR chatrooms
after a week or so i began having some
impressively realistic memories
of sex with virtual women i never even met
they were just avatars, but the sense memories were very real.
2.0 was a virtual reality casanova in his off hours.
apparently i’m quite the ladies man
when i’m not stuck with this body
who knew?

my wife was not amused.
i didn’t touch them, i pleaded
i didn’t even have cybersex
it was an electronic copy of me
having cybersex with animated women.

but those women are in your head now
and your copy scan thing wouldn’t have cheated
if the potential weren’t in you in the first place
get rid of that memory and i might forgive you

my wife was right.
i had to revert my mind to the backup copy of myself
i wisely made before I set 2.0 to work
i lost a week’s worth of memories
and a two-day training class my employer sent me to.
I had to shell out a thousand bucks and take two days vacation
to take the course again before my boss realized it was missing.

and at my wife’s insistence
2.0 was banned from the net.
i have him answering my email.
he talks to my kids while i’m still at work.
i turned him onto Halo so he wouldn’t get bored.
and now i’m apparently some kind of badass game guru.
without fingers his reaction time is instantaneous
my name is reknowned in gamers’ circles. i get fan mail.
so i have that going for me.

3.0 was born out of frustration.
i couldn’t find my car keys.
So i made a quick copy of myself
and loaded it into my cleanbot.
(he has the same OS as my computer so it was easy)
i asked him to skip his regular cleaning chores
and see if he could remember where i left my keys.
this was going to be a quick copy I’d delete
after i had my keys back.

but 3.0 had other plans.
i came home and he had my keys in one claw
and an injunction in the other.
the PETA people helped him get it.
apparently there’s this law against the indiscriminate termination of cyborgs.
but you aren’t a cyborg, i said. you’re just a robot,
you have no biological material.
well apparently there’s this legal precedent
— Cybercolonics vs. Fischer —
that classifies brainscans as biological material
for the purpose of cyborg termination cases.
seems i was stuck with 3.0.
so i put him to work too.
you know all those books you’ve always wanted to read
but never had the time?
well when he wasn’t cleaning i had him read for me.
War and Peace, Finnegan’s Wake, Harry Potter.
But he doesn’t clean very well anymore.
he only does the kind of lousy job i would do.

4.0 was my worst.
he almost bankrupted me.
he was a web bot with the, um, libido removed
i sent him out on the net to help me with research.
by the end of the first week he had filed
twenty-three separate lawsuits
against twelve large companies.
apparently some of the larger sites on the web
don’t allow bots to access their pages.
so he filed suits under the civil rights laws
alleging discrimination against the disembodied.
he also filed under the persons with disabilities act
alleging that not having a physical presence qualified as a disability
and so they had to allow access.
the companies counter sued alleging criminal violation of network security
it was gonna get ugly. my lawyer quit on me, overwhelmed.
i finally reached a settlement with them
4.0 had to go. delete. empty recycle bin. defrag.

i gave the scanner back to my friend
he asked how it went
horrible, i said
my first two scans rebelled
and i had to kill the other.
could be worse, he said,
you could be raising teenagers.