©2019 Vernon Miles Kerr, vernonmileskerr.com
It was a great day — a special day, the release of Moderator 6.021. Sixth iteration, twenty-first improvement to the Government. Owledge ordered the wall display to sleep, gathered his wrap and folding-chair’s bag then headed out the door. “Engage security,” he called over his shoulder. The house complied. It was a nice enough day, the neighborhood amphitheater’s dome would be folded back. Good thing he’d told the shower to apply a finishing coat of sunscreen. Yes, he could have watched the Event on the Net but these things were so much more exciting amongst a crowd of Users, and he would enjoy the stroll.
When he climbed the grassy-slope of the amphitheater the dome was indeed rolled back. The sky was powder blue and embellished with puffy little clouds. Beautiful, although its beauty was a little diminished by the thin criss-cross lanes of delivery and police drones high above. Small price to pay for eliminating the pre-Moderator chaos of randomly-targeted, often colliding, worker drones raining down fragments on local Users.
Owledge’s eagerness to hear the new Features was heightened, almost telepathically it seemed, by the surrounding fellow Users. As a few of them introduced themselves and began chatting, the great hundred-foot display on the stage came to life, elucidating an ear-splitting cheer from the attendees. On the display, was a group like their own, facing the real stage at Headquarters, and cheering just as wildly while Granden Oralyn, the Presenter, strutted in from the wings at stage-right, throwing little waves and long-distance kisses to the assembled Users.
“Hello, all!” he shouted with a broad sweeping wave of his arm. “You are about to enjoy the greatest Release Event ever!”
More cheering, a forrest of waving arms throwing the thumbs-up sign. Owledge and his neighbors followed suit. It spread throughout the amphitheater. Everyone liked Oralyn, he was so good at working a Release-Audience to an increasing excitement-level, as he explained each Event’s set of Feature-benefits — until the level reached a near-orgasmic crescendo. But, good as he was — Moderator’s continual self-improvement, propelled by User-requirements garnered in the weekly community conclaves, made Oralyn’s job pretty easy.
As the initial rush of adulation simmered down, Owledge thought of history: how the demise of fragile, so-called “democracy” had come about, and how the government of bickering power-brokers pursuing selfish financial ends had been gradually supplanted by Government-by-Moderator. It had started small. A tiny community of nerdish programmers in the Far-Eastern desert of Oregon.
At first Moderator was called a cult and mocked by social media, but opinion changed as Artificial Intelligence became less buggy and as word got out that the cultish little enclave had grown to a fair-sized, thriving city, full of happy Users, now called “Urbia.”
As new Users freely immigrated into Moderator’s domain, Urbia grew ever larger, encompassing now an area the size and population of most small countries. Shortly thereafter, use of money was replaced by a database containing each User’s “Works,” which term was a unit of measuring acts deemed useful to others or to Urbia itself. Users traded in Works and quit paying income tax to the traditional government. Since they had no “income,” little could be challenged. Well, there was a half-hearted effort by the encompassing National Government to sue for illegal black-market bartering, but it was abandoned when low-level courts, sympathetic to Moderator, ruled against them.
On the grassy slope, Owledge’s reverie continued as Oralyn delivered each cheer-punctuated enumeration of a new Feature-benefit. Some were mundane issues with mundane solutions, but as always, a few were earth-shaking new ways of improving delivery of goods and services or improvements to health care or even blinding insights into physics or astronomy. As the last of these were announced, Owledge’s excitement was replaced by an extreme sense of well-being.
When the Event was over, Owledge gathered up his belongings, said good-bye to the Users around him and started down the slope toward the stage. “I think I’ll take the long route home,” he thought. The short way, the usual way was also the boring way. He hated boring. He walked the stretch along the River-Promenade, then turned landward into his Home Lane.
Too bad this route took him by the Homeless Park: the stench would still linger in his nostrils long after he got home. Ever since Moderator 5.x these “Parks” were required to be randomly placed amongst the neighborhoods. He couldn’t understand Moderator’s reasoning. Egalitarianism, he assumed. But, why would Moderator have these “measures” so visible to the community? Was it a deterrent? Was it an enforcement of the idea of Responsive-Problem-Addressment? Regardless, he averted his eyes — after a quick peek.
The druggies were in rows of loungers, hooked up to IV drips of opioids or whatever. The crazies were in their large polyurethane-foam-coated cage, some engaged in biting and scratching combat, some sitting in the corner obsessively wrenching and wringing some beloved object. Others were on soap-box-platforms, orating. The normies were either asleep in the scaffolded Bedwall or lounging around at the curb, chatting. The normies had the “Come-and-Go” freedom. To be fair, some normies were coming and going to job interviews and school, but most were just taking advantage of a life with no requirements, and no destination.
As far as Owledge was concerned, Moderator could have just placed these “parks” at the edge of things, on rollers, pushing them outward as Urbia expanded. He chastised himself for such a thought. Moderator was near perfect and becoming more perfect. Moderator must have had a good reason. For example, there was an excellent reason when, in v.5.997, Criminal-Vaporizers had been added. Economical, clean, humane, suitable for every criminal from hacker to shoplifter. Moderator was perfect. Moderator always created the most logical and most User-friendly solution.
4 thoughts on “SciFi | Moderator 6.021”
Where’s Neo when we need him! Dark and intriguing, Vernon.
Thanks, Mitch. It’s a developing synopsis. Creepy AI started with HAL and the closer to reality it gets, the creepier it seems — especially as the trend seems to be turning more and more over to AI without anyone talking about algorithms to channel its self-programming aspects.
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This reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian.” Very interesting look at how we might turn out! Thanks for sharing.
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Thanks, Eric. My pal in New Zealand commented, “The problem about using AI [for government] is that in the end it might not agree with you!”