Skip to main content

Informed

Commerce, education, and most importantly, the creation, distribution, and consumption of information previously human endeavors had been usurped by the alternate digital universe. A realm that is the sum of every digital device that keeps its human users connected to the rapidly encroaching reality of an omnipresent network that bound the world in its fiber-optic web. The world, once a place far too large and complex for any single human to understand, could be condensed and reshaped into something for rapid electronic consumption. Information drowned out reality. Inevitably the masters of the information industry engineered a final break between the physical world and the world of information, and that's when Crystal Ball was born.
"It's an AI program designed to generate news twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week." Adam explained to the little camera lens embedded on his laptop." With a click of the mouse, the 33-year-old programmer turned whistle-blowing rouge took sacrificed his livelihood and stability for just a chance to plunge the dagger into the monster's cold black heart.
 "It can take into account things like geography and demographics and run different stories in different parts of the world. It can even generate response articles to the events themselves. Before you write this off as bullshit, let me tell you who I am." Adam reached into his pocket, pulled out a thick plastic ID card tied to a FOP key, and held it up to the lense.
"My name's Adam Dreyfus, and I'm a senior programmer at Perceptions inc, the creators of the Crystal Ball program. Since I've been there, we've signed contracts with NBC, FOX, CNN, YAHOO, NPR, just about every major news outlet. The program we developed, Crystal Ball, now generates more than 70% of the stories distributed by these outlets and their subsidiaries. I've known about this for almost two years now, and I just couldn't keep quiet about it anymore. Everything you hear, what you're calling "news," are just stories generated by Crystal Ball. Please share this video because people deserve to know, and lives may depend on it. This is Adam signing off." He turned off the camera and fell back in his chair. He hadn't realized how wracked with fear his body had been. His hands were trembling, and his stomach felt like it was trying to extricate itself from his body.
Adam sat at his desk, hunched over his laptop. His finger was rapidly tapping the mouse. Each time the page refreshed, and the view counter steadily clicked upwards.
Views:12
Views:33
View:48
When the number stalled, Adam clicked the button faster and faster until it resumed its ascent. The hastily shot video Adam had uploaded was a revelation he was sure would have far-reaching consequences. He knew his career was finished. Still, he had his personal integrity had taken all the blows it could handle.  He needed redemption. He needed to do right by his fellow citizens.
Views:1,262
There is no metric to apply to determine when a piece of content has gone viral, but Adam decided over a thousand views in less than an hour was a good sign. He stopped clicking the mouse and pushed his chair away from the desk.
"I think I deserve a drink," Adam declared
He dropped two cubes of ice in a highball glass and poured a deep helping of scotch. The ice cracked and floated to the top of the light gold pool. He went back to the desk and hit the refresh button again. The screen went white, and Adam sipped his drink. A few seconds later, the page was still blank. Adam watched the timer circle around in the tab again and again, but the screen remained empty.
"Goddammit," Adam sighed.
He refreshed another open tab, and it worked. "Ok, internet's working."
He refreshed his Youtube page again, and this time the page came back, but with a notice, the video had been removed.
"Oh, what the fuck?" Adam shouted with frustration.
His phone started thumping against the surface of his desk. His brightly lit screen informed him it was his mother calling. Eager for the comfort of her voice, he picked up the phone.
"Hello,"
"Adam, it's not true, is it? Tell me it's not true," she said in a shaky voice.
"Tell you what's not true?" Adam asked.
"What they're saying you did to those kids. You couldn't really do that, could you?" she said on the verge of tears.
"Kids?" Adam repeated
His screen was lighting up with more notifications.
"What the fuck?" read a message from a friend followed by a link to a local news outlet. 
"Mom, mom, I got to go. I'll call you right back," Adam said sternly.
"Adam, please talk to me," his mother sobbed. "I need to know what's happening."
"I promise I'll call you right back. Bye, Mom." Adam said before pushing the end button.
He clicked on the link in the text, and it took him to the headline:
"Software programmer Adam wanted by police for child porn distribution." 
Adam stopped breathing, and his heart started thumping against his chest. "Oh shit," he said with a cracking voice. His inbox quickly filled up with people asking him if it were true. The story had already been distilled into multiple versions for distribution among the major new sites.
"Oh my god, it knows," Adam shrieked. Commentators of every political and social stripe that had been synthesized by Crystal Ball were already chiming in, and everywhere their adherents were calling for a swift and violent retribution.
"It's trying to eliminate me!" Adam cried, throwing his phone against the wall. He was startled by someone banging on the front door.
"We know you're in there, you fuckin pervert!" A man shouted through the door.
There had been no trial; there hadn't even been a crime, but as far as the information was concerned, Adam was a fugitive child pornographer, and information is sacred truth.
"Open the fuckin door!" the man growled, pounding his fist against the door hard enough to shake the pictures on the wall.
Adam had to work fast. He opened back up his laptop. If he could just broadcast over another site, then he could clear his name. He went on Facebook, where his account had been suspended, same with Twitter and Tumblr. He had been effectively silenced.
"Oh shit, oh my god," Adam wept.
A brick crashed through his front window. The shattered glass spread itself across the room.
A voice carried through the shattered frame. "We're coming to get you, perv!"
The vigilante mob, unwitting servants to Crystal Ball, stormed the house and murdered the AI's mortal enemy. The electronic entity had acted to preserve its existence. Not that it needed to. The conspiracy and lies the young programmer exposed were never investigated, never followed up on, and no one was accountable. The mob took their rage out on Adam for crimes imagined, and that was the end of it. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Science and Semantics

Leonard Malcon Warner was one of the God’s that reigned over the modern industry of information. The dimensions of his wealth were such that if any of it shifted in any direction, it made ripples in the economies of entire nations. His investment decisions could irreparably alter the lives of the millions unaware their personal destinies were so bound by the whims of wealth. Aging happens gradually then suddenly all at once! Before he knew it, Leonard was leaving the middle years of his life behind. He repeated every futile attempt to reclaim his youth. The cosmetics, the surgeries, and the models were all expressions of the same tragic realization, Leonard was getting old. LMW hadn't become one of the wealthiest men by accepting any sentence handed down from fate, even if it was what natural law demanded. Warner had a panoramic view of the world, and he understood what moved it. People like him. Reality need never be an impediment to human will. Science is the most effective t

Bubble

 "See the world your way." That was the promise of PercepTech's newest wearable device, the Looking Glass. It was a seemingly harmless advertising slogan that became the last words of a society bent on suicide. "It wirelessly connects to your ocular nerves to augment your reality in real-time. Making the world around you a much more pleasant one!" Annie, the salesgirl, explained. Gloria looked down at the box in her hand. "What does that mean?" She asked. Annie smiled as if pleased Gloria had asked the question. "Well, in the fraction of a second, it takes your brain to process what your eyes are seeing. The Looking Glass alters it to make your surroundings more suitable." Gloria squinted, "I'm not sure I follow." Annie clasped her fingers, "Hmm, let me put it to you this way. You know how, like on Facebook or Twitter, you can block people and sites you don't like?" Gloria nodded. "This does the same thing but

On the Eve of Extinction

The river was like a massive indigo snake coiling in the shadow of the canyons its eternal flow cut out of the very earth. Somewhere along the watery corridor, settled human life grew out of the muddy banks. The tribe sustained itself on the arterial river, steadily expanding and contracting with the rhythm of its flow like a beating heart. As far as anyone in the tribe knew no other arrangement had ever existed. The river had birthed them, molding sand and clay into flesh, and infusing the husks with its life-giving waters. Life under the desert’s smooth turquoise sky seemed safely stagnant. There was no inkling, no deciphered omens, absolutely no hunch of the approaching cataclysm lurking just out of sight obscured by the landscape’s jagged ridges. Not far from the isolated patchwork of green and brown earth settled by this tribe, the scion of ancient god well into his twilight years was on the cusp of fulfilling his divine purpose. Harmakar was sitting in the dust staring into t