Saturday, August 03, 2019

Root – New Speculative Fiction by C. C. Brower, J. R. Kruze

Root - New Speculative Fiction by C. C. Brower, J. R. Kruze

When A.I. goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong.

In order to make massive changes to any computer program, you have to have administrator access: “root”.

Integrating chips into humans had become almost a social media requirement. Fear of Missing Out had the latest enhancements available to anyone who could afford them. Soon, legislatures legalized a simple audio “bio-hack” now available through over-the-counter pharmacies and installed as simply as a ear piercing. The chips had “momentary” root access to your brain. (It said so in the tiny type of the TOS.)

Soon, advertising-paid versions made the cost of implants virtually free, as the massed populations of major metropolitan and coastal megalopoli were all connected. Software upgrades were free and frequent.

And then the “fad” of the timed dopamine “rushes” started – where everyone stopped mid-action and enjoyed the smooth burst of calming hormones while a Macarena-style tune played. Like an elevator-music sponored pomodoro break where everybody simply went on “pause”.

Then the “accidental” deaths became more commonplace. Some regained their motion faster than others, an advantage for petty thieves – and others.

A single teen-ager saw a pattern to the deaths – as murders-for-hire. But who listened to an underachieving high-school student with a conspiracy theory, no matter how brilliant. Except this one girl with some serious connections…

But the hacks also worked in reverse. Soon they were pursued – by those people who “returned” a split-second faster than others.

And wanted to keep it their little secret…


It was only polite to stop and stare.

Also, it meant that the cops wouldn’t bust you or ship you off to some “facility” where they kept “people like you”.

Because the city, everyone it in – except for us extreme few – were all wired in. This is where social media led us to. For a few moments every hour, like some sort of enforced pomodoro break, people would zone out wherever they were and whatever they were doing. They’d all wake up on cue, smile and carry on.

The rest of us had to play along. Or else.

Because when 99.99 percent of humans around you all did the same thing – you’d better, too. People had not-so-funny ways to dealing with people that didn’t. Especially as they were vulnerable – everyone was vulnerable – during those moments. So it was a matter of “public safety” that you pretended to zone out along with everyone else.

Just another reason for the walls around the city, and keeping people out as much as keeping them in. To keep us safe from everything else “out there”. Where they weren’t necessarily all plugged in. The rumors were that those were all the Luddites and ‘deplorables’ who were so ‘backward’ they couldn’t see the obvious advantages to plugging in. Just above their station, they explained.

Like that was a bad thing.

– – – –

Me, I couldn’t be bothered. I had my studies to do. I had things to figure out.

For now, I could almost count down the days, hours, and seconds before I was no longer required to attend their truly dreary “schooling” to get my mandated so many hours of “education” so I’d be one of their “well-adjusted” and “productive members of society”.

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