Thursday, March 10, 2011

Each According

A little Sci-Fi short story:

I went to the touch screen in my kitchen, looked at the available balance and checked for any new bonuses. None. No one was quite sure how the bonus system worked, but there were some well documented cases of major bonuses; some almost double the daily stipend. I sighed, asked for a new order of coffee and heard a gentle whirring in the bowels of my quarters. The sound of air, an enormous exhale, came from somewhere in the basement. I opened the breakfast cabinet and pulled out the coffee. Forty three cents were subtracted from my daily stipend.

I was frugal. I could save up for upgrades and pleasure products while most people spent their stipends on required items. The secret was that most required items were actually suggested items. I would eat certain foods and have a balanced meal waiting in any of my meal cabinets, but I hardly ever ate rare status foods like tuna. Similarly, the 3 month burn on clothes could be ignored if one took care of their wear and didn't do laundry quite as often.

I sipped on my coffee. The day would be nice. The weatherman had said last night, in extraordinarily long detail, how the surplus of rain meant that the weather service would cut back on rain and give us a breezy spring morning. I was excited. I would go for a run along the esplanade and soak in the sea breeze. I needed something to let me get away from all of the technology before I got to my passion.

I looked out the window. Dense clusters of living quarters stacked on each other. A beautiful metallic sheen with organic sweeping lines. I lived on the third floor, but the mega structure extended almost 650 stories above the ground. The architects had done a great job making a system so efficient and beautiful. The mega structure seamlessly melted into the flat earth around it. I knew that around 20 stories of basements and sub-levels extended below the earth, an intricate root system that delivered all goods to the surface.

I never thought I would live in Kansas, but when I heard that they were making improvements to megastructure 1094 and that they would extend the Gulf of Nebraska to megastructure 1094, I couldn't resist. My passion was mobile, it only required a little office and an internet connection. I packed up from my space in Spokane and moved to Kansas. I had been here three years.

After my run along the beautiful esplanade, I strolled into the office. My passion was simple, I loved tinkering with the tiny robots that do the work in our world. In my six years since I finished grad studies, my passion had delivered several pieces of which I was very proud. I had streamlined the circuitry of one of the vacuum bots. There were basically twice as many neurocircuits as were necessary for the job; a bit of clever programming and the bot could function 12 percent faster and at half the size. What could I say, it was my passion and the system had found my according needs.

I browsed through a few different bots. There was a subway bot that controlled the circuit changes, there was a synthesizer bot that redistributed food orders and made complex concoctions, there was a builder bot that checked on structural integrity, and there were a few more that were even more dull. I heard the almost whisper-like sky rail pass by on the super pillars.

I decided that maybe a walk would be nice and refresh my ideas. I had recently reached some dead-ends. I wanted to take the old bots and make completely new ones. There was so much potential in what was possible, but it didn't fit any real needs. People were content and without needs. The governing system had cured us of our needs. We were free to do whatever. The system functioned perfectly. I knew that more than probably most. Every bot in the system managed our resources perfectly. In fact, beyond optimally. A new category of passion had started to arise in the last 10 years, the sedentary life. Some people had chosen to stop their old passions and had started to do nothing as their passion. Nothing isn't the correct term. Some people would drink, others would watch tv, and even more had given up their living quarters, opting instead for the transient life. I say nothing because they would not produce anything. They didn't even blog about their experiences. Some had taken to calling their passion by a different name. Work. What bots did.

I had my lunch and stared into the sea. Miles and miles of ocean, recently not even there. The spring winds blew across the sea, sweeping different shades of blue across the expanse. This world was perfect. Everyone could eat when they wanted, sleep when they wanted, do anything they wanted.

Since the third wave basic need had been eradicated from the world. The capitalist system transformed into the Neo-Marxist Capital System and everyone submitted to Happiness Doctrine. It was a load of complex jargon to describe that hunger and poverty were eliminated from our vocabulary. Work was relegated to the bots after the third wave. Humans were left to pursue their passions. In a perfectly managed system like ours, humans could disappear from the society and everything would keep working.

As I stared out, I wasn't sure if the loss of humans would be a bad thing. We had largely reversed any damage we had created before the third wave. Ecosystems flourished, our resource harvesting and maintenance was fully sustainable and approximately 40 percent of it was getting synthesized out of dirt anyway. If humanity were to disappear tomorrow, we would leave eternal markers of our existence. Megastructures that would self-maintain for millenia, and we would fade into blackness. Our history preserved in beautifully clean museums—maintained by the bots I made so efficient they would never break down.

The sun would burn out and disappear before our history turned to dust. The third wave proved something though; conflict isn't based on basic needs. People managed to find ways to hurt each other emotionally, and fight digitally still. Competition was part of the human spirit, a paradoxical element in our search for peace.

The sea continued to amuse me, a great blue expanse. Beautiful old sail boats moved across the water. Regardless of the peaceful society, I had managed to find my peace.