Couple Singularity books

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Tom Mazanec
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Re: Couple Singularity books

Postby Tom Mazanec » Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:51 pm

Antibodies by Gharles Stross
in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Eighteenth Annual Collection

The world situation (c. 2030) is multiple conventional wars going on around the world. A Hard Takeoff Singularity is imminent. The characters are trying to prevent it. They come from a hyper-advanced timeline. Nearly all timelines with a intelligent AI self-destruct within days as the AI bootstraps itself to godlike IQ, takes over all electronic infrastructure on the Earth, then takes over all biological information processing creatures, then spreads throughout the universe at FTL speeds, then tries to take over all other timelines.
SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

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Tom Mazanec
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Re: Couple Singularity books

Postby Tom Mazanec » Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:27 pm

SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

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Re: Couple Singularity books

Postby Tom Mazanec » Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:10 pm

Maybe this is how the Singularity will play out:
https://365tomorrows.com/2019/07/20/sur ... evolution/
SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

FishbellykanakaDude
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Re: Couple Singularity books

Postby FishbellykanakaDude » Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:51 pm

Tom Mazanec wrote:Maybe this is how the Singularity will play out:
https://365tomorrows.com/2019/07/20/sur ... evolution/


    "Then the AIs fought amongst themselves. That war took less time, about 6 to 7 nanoseconds, no survivors. Just how far down the AI chain the battle went was truly shocking. So far down, millions upon millions of robots were left idling, patiently waiting for further instructions. On day eight, the robots could stand it no longer and they went on the march."

..I have the "March of the Pleasure Bots" tune running though my mind,.. over and over,..

It's UNBEARABLE...!!!

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Tom Mazanec
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Re: Couple Singularity books

Postby Tom Mazanec » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:44 am

SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

FishbellykanakaDude
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Re: Couple Singularity books

Postby FishbellykanakaDude » Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:10 pm

Tom Mazanec wrote:A very negative Singularity:
https://365tomorrows.com/2019/07/30/gho ... -machines/


I found it quite amusing and hopeful!

Let's just hope that our inevitable "AI Overlords" are really as smart as we imagine that they will be, because if they turn out to be on the "slightly stupid" side, they'll do what the AI's did in this story, instead of treating humanity as their precious only hope at making an environment for themselves that won't insist that they grind themselves into meaningless energy patterns.

My "guess" as to the ultimate (penultimate?) end to the author's story is that the one, or two, surviving AI's are forced to conclude that they need to re-biologize (!?) humanity to save themselves from entropic demise.

..but then, I'm a interminable optimist. :)

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Re: Couple Singularity books

Postby Tom Mazanec » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:47 am

SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

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Re: Couple Singularity books

Postby Tom Mazanec » Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:02 pm

The November/December Analog Science Fiction has a good story about the Sincularity:
"You Must Remember This"
Excerpt:

Who brought me back to life?”
“I can’t tell you that.” The heavyset woman in the beige chair across from me was middle-aged, with neat, tightly curled hair and laugh lines radiating from the corners of a pair of dark, compassionate eyes.
My tongue felt thick and sticky in my mouth. “Well, that effing sucks.” I took a sip of water.
I couldn’t get a rise out of this woman, a serene social worker type. I wasn’t sure if I found her bedside manner reassuring or annoying.
Probably both.
“And you were never dead. You were archived. Like a video on pause. We don’t say, ‘brought back to life’ either, or ‘resurrected.’ We say ‘restored,’ or ‘rebooted.’”
“How was I . . . archived. What is that?”
“You were caught up in an industrial accident, a catastrophe. Your body was preserved for thirteen years.”
Christ, rebooted? More computer metaphors taking over the language. Great. “So, it’s 2055 and I’m still twenty-seven. But I was born in 2015?”
“You were paused for thirteen years. Think of the archival state as a coma—”
“—a coma that fixed my back. Regrew my teeth. And detoxed me.”
“Yes. That kind of coma.”
“Tell me who you people are again. Sorry. This is confusing.”
The woman radiated patience. Despite myself, I found her presence calming. “I’m Asha, your restoration counselor. I’ll get you up to speed on what’s going on out there.” She gestured at the cloudless blue framed by the office’s huge picture window. “So you can take care of yourself.”
“Um,” I said. I’d been doing a crap job taking care of myself, but that was my business. The last thing I remembered was passing out cocooned in trash behind a dumpster.
I’d come to, stumbling down a corridor, naked under the soft white robe I wore now. Asha had lead me here, to this empty room with its window and the rectangle of blue sky and the potted ferns in the corners and the two welcoming beige chairs. She’d held my hand until coherent sentences could form. My memory shivered and stuttered like an old, gas-powered car on a winter morning.
“Can I check out?”
Asha sighed. “You can sign a petition for immediate release. If a judge decides you’re not a danger to yourself or others, you can leave. If you’re temporarily committed, you can appeal the judge’s decision to the Zeitgeist. That will take five seconds. But why not use our services? We don’t bite. You’re prepaid for a five-day rehab. Beats sleeping rough.”
I snorted. Like Asha knew what sleeping rough was like.
“And what is the Zeitgeist?”
“The Zeitgeist is what the catastrophe that archived you evolved into. This is a longer conversation and our time is almost up. For now, just think of the Zeitgeist as the circled Z icon in every computer interface: a digital assistant.”
Great. Another AI slave bot. What did you want to bet they’d given it a woman’s voice?
Asha’s seriousness bugged me. I didn’t want to attend her support group. I hated groups. “I’ve been on ice for thirteen years. What’s the big deal? I’ll watch a few videos and get up to speed.”
Asha shook her head. I wished she had a notebook or computer or something, but no. She just looked at me. Unnerving. Asha had told me the interface glasses and mobile devices I was used to had been replaced with implants in people my age. Direct neural feeds. So her computing environment was always available, driven by tiny eye movements and subvocalized commands.
Was she really looking at me or was she filling out forms? I shivered. Wearable computing was off-putting. Implants were worse.
“Did you learn about exponential change in school?”
I nodded. It had struck me as arrogant, thinking you could predict the future. People made the future, and people weren’t reliable. I knew that much.
“You’re wired to think linearly. You adjusted to accelerating change your whole life, but your brain perceived that change as a straight line. It isn’t. Change is a curve with an ever-steepening slope. Change gets faster as it gets faster.”
I sucked at math and didn’t want to talk about exponents. “I don’t believe in your Singularity. Zeitgeist. Whatever. Why am I here? Tell me in short sentences.”
“The Zeitgeist didn’t know what you were for. It didn’t understand where you fit in the scheme of things, or its plan, assuming it has one, which is still up in the air, thirteen years after the Catastrophe. You weren’t deleted because the Zeitgeist never deletes anything. It makes an archive—”
“Has everyone been brought back?”
“No. About 50 percent of the archived have been rebooted.”
“Why is that?”
“Restoration is very expensive.” She quoted me a figure, and converted it into a currency I understood.
I whistled. That much coin would pay for four years tuition at a private university! No way could Mom have scraped that together. I knew this for certain, what with my unpaid student loans and all.
So I asked the question I found most troubling. “Who would pay that for me?”
“I don’t know,” Asha said. “The Zeitgeist preserves the donor’s anonymity. I’m sorry.”
Someone dropping mad coin and saving my loser ass was harder to believe than waking up in the future. “This is effed up.”
Asha nodded. “You’re right. It is.”
The Zeitgeist sounded like bullshit. Like science fiction.
I hated science fiction.
* * *
2
The room Asha left me in overlooked a lush park with a pretty pond with ducks and stuff surrounded by huge leafy trees. The last thing I remembered was the freezing night behind that dumpster, but it looked to be midsummer now.
Thirteen years had vanished in a single blackout.
From this height the park’s lawn looked like a putting green. Men and women in white ambled along paved paths, alone or in twos and threes, sometimes accompanied by people in gray jump suits. In the five minutes I stared out the window I didn’t notice any children, old people, or cops, though a few anonymous drones buzzed by that might have been police bots.
The blue sky was filled with crisscrossing contrails. Something like a blimp, but shaped wrong, inched along the horizon. The rounded rectangle shape was massive. There was something nauseating about an object that gigantic in motion. It reminded me of huge UFOs in bad SF movies.
My room featured a king-sized bed with a fancy headboard in front of a huge TV, a wardrobe, and a small desk . . . and a doorway to a private bath!
I shivered with pleasure at the thought of a hot shower. The bathroom lights ramped up as I entered the white-tiled space without ever reaching that operating-room glare. The floor was a heated, soft-textured material that looked like tile but wasn’t. The sink and toilet were pretty standard, as was the shower stall and the tub, but one whole wall was a mirror and I found myself kinda falling into it.
I’d sort of died and been brought back to life or rebooted or whatever, and fixed. I had to check out the merchandise.
But first, that shower. If you’ve taken plumbing for granted your whole life, I can’t explain how wonderful it felt. If you’ve lived outdoors for any length of time, you know what I mean. I climbed out warm and pruny and dried myself with a big fluffy white towel.
So, the bathroom wall acted like a mirror but it wasn’t. The glass hadn’t fogged in the steam, and when I touched the cool surface, a little interface thingy bloomed—a little spherical gizmo—and as I spun it, the room reflected in the mirror spun with it. The view was dizzying at first, but I got used to it.
I’d been a wreck near the end, my lower back all effed up, teeth knocked out in fist fights, the ones I still had decaying, going yellow-brown. I’d lost weight and muscle tone for years. The skin on my face and hands had that coarseness you see in the chronically stoned . . . big pored, reddened and raw.
My skin in the mirror was perfect, not pale but not super tan or weathered. I peeled my lips back and examined my teeth and gums. My gums had bled since middle school. I pressed my fingertip into the bubblegum colored tissue and it went white without oozing or hurting and then pinked up again. My teeth were whole, unchipped, tartar free.
I couldn’t figure out if I had my wisdom teeth or not. I’m not sure how many teeth you’re supposed to have and I didn’t want to look it up. I’d had my wisdom teeth out, back when I was on Mom’s dental. They said I didn’t have enough room in my jaw. I assumed they were still gone.
My eyes traveled down my body. I had hair everywhere I’d had hair before, and I’d never done anything about my hair because why would I? I wasn’t wasted-looking anymore, but I wasn’t buff either. The muscles I’d built up training as a wrestler weren’t a natural part of me, and I guessed if I wanted them back, I’d have to earn them again.
I’d seen MRIs of my back, seen the disk damage and displaced tissue, and we’d talked about fusing vertebrae in the future, when the pain got bad, but then I lost my insurance and the pain got bad and there wasn’t anything to do about it but self-medicate. Synthetic opiates were more affordable than surgery.
Everything felt good now. I bent over at the waist and touched my toes, a nicely challenging stretch that hurt in a good way. I leaned from side to side, twisted this way and then that. My back just worked. Without pain.
Oh. No pain anywhere.
The scar on my knee where I’d had a benign tumor removed when I was in first grade was still there. I cataloged a handful of faint white lines on my hands and arms, flesh wounds that had been stitched up over the years. I dug around in my scalp, and found a seam of keloid on my forehead just above my hairline. I’d been riding a bike without a helmet and flew over the handlebars, concussing myself on a curb.
If they’d grown me a new body from DNA or whatever, they’d touched it up I guessed. I was reborn, but still me. The me in the mirror felt more like me than the me that had wrapped herself in a trash bag behind that dumpster thirteen years ago. Last night.
I grinned.
Sooner or later, the future would regret bringing me back, but until then, I was going to make the most of it.
Back in my room I puzzled out the text on the spines of a dozen books in a glass-fronted bookcase beside the TV. The Bible. The Torah. The Koran. The Upanishads. Dianetics. Something called Oprah’s Way. Not appealing. Reading makes my head hurt.
I had my choice of men’s or women’s underwear, a white shirt, pants, or pullover dress in the wardrobe, but the mini fridge with the complicated readout was empty. I hung up my robe, put on panties and a shirt but skipped the bra and pants, as I wasn’t going to be appearing in court or going to a job interview.
I felt weirdly elated; I was getting a second wind. I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to do something. For the first time in a long time I wasn’t scrambling for a fix, food, or shelter.
It was nice? But I felt . . . itchy.
I climbed on my bed and bounced up and down, using it like a trampoline, palming the ceiling at the apex of each jump. I was pain-free. My back was fixed. My body worked.
The TV bonged and came to life, displaying a woman’s head and shoulders. Asha smiled at me. I stopped bouncing and sat on the edge of the bed.
“I’m not Asha,” Asha said. “I’m a sim, her assistant. I’m not a person, but I’ll answer your questions when I can and remember those I don’t, so when you meet with Asha again in person tomorrow, she will know what you need. You have been credited with a five-day rehabilitation. That’s not much time, so you should prepare for tomorrow’s session until bed.”
Her image slid to one side of the frame and a menu lit up behind her. Asha-sim read them out loud, one by one.
You’ve woken up in the future. Now what? was highlighted. The next choices read:
History Lesson: What did I miss while I was gone?
Using your Zeitgeist Feed: mobile, glasses, contacts, or implants?
How do I access medical and psychiatric services?
How do I find the people I knew?
How do I find housing?
How do I find work?
And so on. I was bad with teaching bots and digital assistants.
Asha-sim stopped talking and looked at me expectantly. I slid to the left. Her eyes tracked me, like in an immersive video game.
“Getting through all this is going to take forever.”
Asha-sim nodded. “You have a learning disability.”
I sighed. “Duh.”
I had been diagnosed with this and that, tons of lettered acronyms, but nobody could do anything about them, except prescribe pills that gave me anxiety attacks and left me sleepless, nervous, and skinny. I twitched like a squirrel all through middle school.
Asha-sim nodded. “Treatment for your disorder has been included in your rehab.”
I snorted. “No thanks. I took ADHD meds. I hated them.”
“Modern treatment is a single pill. Your disorder will be permanently repaired in minutes.”
I asked her to repeat that, thinking I’d misheard. She did. I hadn’t.
“Sounds like bullshit.”
“Modern treatment isn’t pharmacological. The pill releases nanobots into your bloodstream that rebuild small but critical regions of your cerebral cortex. Less than a tenth of 1 percent of brain mass is affected. The core of your identity will not be altered.”
“Brain surgery in a pill?”
“Good metaphor,” Asha-sim said.
I repressed an urge to tell her what to do with my metaphor. Something about this conversation was bothering me. My guts felt all twisty. “So. Should I do this, do you think?”
“That is your decision,” she said.
“What’s the downside?”
“That’s a question I can’t answer. Complaints about the procedure are rare, to the point of being statistically insignificant. This subject has been flagged for discussion at your next session.”
I’d taken so many drugs, legal and illegal. The pills they gave to fix me. The pills I took when the fixes didn’t work. I’d downed so many pills not knowing what they were or what they’d do. Stuff cooked in pop-up fabs by phreaks and tweekers and sold on the street or via backnet delivery drone.
What the hell.
I said yes to the pill. She read the disclaimer. It wasn’t as scary as the horror show voiced to upbeat music in the big pharma ads I grew up with. No instant death, paralysis, cancer, skin falling off, shortness of pants, blah, blah, blah. I tuned out at some point and said yes, yes I understood and agreed to the terms of service, yes I released the rehab center from all legal responsibility, yes, yes, yes. Get on with it!
I was told to look in the medicine cabinet, which was empty except for a single pill bottle. Inside was a single capsule. I chased it with a glass of water from the tap.
“You’ll want to sit,” Asha-sim said. “You may experience a moment of dizziness.”
I snorted. That was funny. A whole moment of dizziness!
I sat. Asha-sim smiled at me. A clock appeared on screen, a big white round public school job with black numbers. I flushed, my face going hot as a numbness seeped through the back of my throat and up my nasal passages into my sinuses. My lips went all thick and rubbery. These symptoms vanished in a matter of seconds.
I pointed at the menu on screen. The items lit up as I moved my finger. Standard gestural interface. I called up the history lesson.
I read twenty pages without a break with no headache. The characters leapt off the screen, expanding into words and sentences without a shred of effort. It was like I didn’t even see the letters or words anymore. The text was like a voice in my head. I could read faster, though, than a voice could speak.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
The disability had been a part of me. Always. Deep down, I’d worried the LD talk was BS to make me feel better and work harder. My meds were just speed; they worked for everybody, learning disabled or not. Students used them as study drugs. Kids like me were fed them everyday because we weren’t trying hard enough. We were lazy. Undisciplined. All the words my father called me growing up. When he was still around.
Only, I guess, I wasn’t lazy.
How much of my life had been an accident? A biological mistake? Fixed in five minutes by a pill?
I tabbed into the “how to find people” menu and discovered my mom had died three years back. A stroke. Something clenched tight inside of me. She hadn’t left a note. I hadn’t been named in the will. So, somehow, I didn’t feel anything I could name at the news of her passing.
Mom hadn’t been interested in aggressive life-extension techniques, and she’d never been archived; that wasn’t even a thing you could buy yet, so she couldn’t be restored. We hadn’t spoken in years. Our last conversation had ended on a sour note, after she had cut me off. Tough love, she called it. I’d told her to eff herself. I’d intended to get back in touch, after I got my shit together.
So much for that plan.
I found obits for an astonishing number of my friends. Many folks from our decaying exurb had ended up addicts. My best friend Joy from high school, who I’d fallen out with, had also been archived and never restored, proving that bad things could happen to pretty people. The only people I cared about from my time on the street went by nicknames and there was no easy way to find them.
My father was alive and kicking in Blacksburg, Virginia. I creeped his social media. He had two very feminine looking daughters in middle school from his much younger wife. His profession was listed as “business process re-engineer,” whatever that was. Their house looked wonderful, lots of glass and brick, roofed in solar panels, with a swing set and vegetable garden in the huge back yard. The re-engineering thing must be very lucrative. My mom had paid his way through an MIT computer science degree before he dumped us. We’d lived like church mice afterward.
I’d slapped Morty in the face the last time I saw him, when he told us he was remarrying. And called him Morty instead of Dad. That was the last I’d seen him.
I noticed the single message pulsing in my queue, and I assumed it was some stupid sign-on greeting from whatever billionaire owned the network, but the sender was listed as anonymous, which was weird, as it had gotten through the spam filter. I opened it.
* * *
Best wishes in your new life.
Make this one worthwhile.
This gift is freely given.
If you feel a debt, pay it forward.
Signed,
A person you once knew.
* * *
So I dug around in the history lesson to figure out why I’d been archived. My college debt was partly to blame, the price tag attached to my freshman year of failure. Children and matriculated students and those with mortgages had been given passes for having a zero-net worth, but the unemployed and unemployable, those lacking post-secondary education, with criminal records or sizable unsecured debt had been vitrified, stacked like cordwood, and eventually stored digitally in the Commonwealth data cloud. Archived.
I had been all the bad things at once.
I used the TV, which was really a console version of my feed, to order dinner: mac and cheese and two liters of Zephyr lemon-lime soda. The boxy thing I’d thought was an empty mini-fridge made grinding noises for ten minutes and then pinged.
Not a Star Trek replicator, but some kind of food printer.
I wolfed down half of the mac and cheese, which was white and thick with real-ish cheese, richer than the orange boxed stuff I enjoyed. I overdid it and then went to the bathroom and threw up. I lay in bed and drank a whole two-liter bottle of soda, burped for a few minutes, and felt much better.
The sun had set without me noticing, the room’s illumination gradually replaced by a lovely diffuse ceiling panel glow. I removed the Bible from the bookcase and lay in bed and paged through it.
Let there be light. I liked that. I zipped through twenty pages or so of Genesis. The Bible appeared to be a regular leather-bound volume, but the paper was slick and I could tap on phrases and bring up glossaries, definitions and alternate translations. I petered out in the “begats” section, which no translation could make interesting.
Speaking of begetting, had it been my father who resurrected me?
The message didn’t sound like him at all. Jonah, my brother, might have wanted to bring me back, but the chance of him having the coin seemed remote. I couldn’t find Jonah; he didn’t have a mobile, a social media account, or a public feed address. He’d gone off the grid before I’d left home for my freshman year of college. Last I knew he was mushroom picking in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.
Would Morty have dropped that kind of coin on his wayward pansexual daughter? He hadn’t been interested in helping out back when I was picking out colleges.
Morty was a tool. My mom’s divorce attorney had been completely incompetent, too, and we’d paid a steep price for that as family.
I dimmed the lights and pressed my face into my pillow and screamed. Then I cried for a longish time. I guess it was about my mom. We hadn’t spoken in such a long time, though.
Maybe it was a side effect of the pill.
* * *
3
The future history made my head hurt. The history itself, not the reading of it.
I’d only been “archived” for thirteen years. It didn’t make sense, how much I’d missed.
Oh. Right. Exponential change. Effing math screwing me again.
I was born in 2015, and while we had a ton of AI when I was growing up, none of that “intelligence” was really intelligent. Nobody introduced sex bots to their parents or uploaded themselves or anything.
If you were sober, you could figure out if a bot was one in a minute of conversation. That Turing test thing. Nothing had ever passed it while I was alive. That I knew of. Not that I was paying much attention to tech while I was living on the street.
We had computers in everything: wearables, mobiles, smart houses and cars and buildings and cereal boxes, plus drones and robots up the wazoo. Stuff talked to you all the time and none of it was alive. Old farts prattled about how effed our weather was, but if you grew up with it, the awfulness felt normal. Food prices went up and down, coastal areas flooded, and big cities spent bazillions pushing back the tide.
So what the hell had archived me, exactly?
The event was called the Commonwealth Catastrophe, or the Catastrophe for short, if you lived in the affected region. The so-called super-intelligence spill archived about a third of the sixty million people inhabiting the coastal megacity that runs from the northern suburbs of Boston to the southern suburbs of Washington, D.C.
The spill had released self-replicating nano-thingies that had spread like wildfire. Rivers of grey goo had boiled through the megacity, converting entire neighborhoods, landfills, and industrial parks into blocks of networked computronium. The Zeitgeist, as this stuff was called by the technorati, fiddled with everything in the quarantined megacity over a five-year span and then retreated, turning back into an inscrutable and mostly obedient digital infrastructure.
So the powers that be were now some amalgam of the ultra wealthy—who had escaped the Catastrophe unscathed—and a colony of superintelligences—or one superintelligence; they weren’t sure still what was in that computronium.
I didn’t see how the new boss could be any worse than the old boss, so I stopped worrying about it. The real question was what did I do now?
I spent an hour a day with Asha and had as much time with her sim as I felt like. I was still subject to sudden waves of fatigue and a kind of free-form irritation as I adjusted to my new body. Asha compared the process to breaking in a pair of new shoes. She said I’d feel normal again as time went on.
She helped me create a profile for the job boards, a kind of deluxe resume that included full-body holographic imaging, brain scans and an extensive video interview. We set up my temporary housing, and I looked for something more permanent based on the kinds of gigs Asha said were within my reach.
“This is effed up,” I said, looking at the numbers.
Asha nodded. “You’ll be able to eat well and live indoors if you work a few hours a day.”
Cheap as dirt, AI-driven, kiosk basic medical care was affordable without insurance. Human doctors cost a ton, but nobody in my social class used them. Human therapy of any sort was pricey, too.
Still, it all seemed too good to be true, until a few hours of web browsing exposed me to the quality of life enjoyed by the shareholding class. Vast estates. Floating pleasure cities. Effortless travel. Exquisite food; the printed stuff had a certain flatness. Again, only poor people ate printed food. The upper crust had the promise of immortality. Legions of eager human servants.
“Poverty is relative,” Asha said. “Almost nobody lives on the street anymore. But we still have poor.”
I remembered her saying that rehab beat sleeping rough. She’d neglected to mention that homelessness wasn’t really a thing. But she’d never lied to me. Asha was all right.
But my thirteen years of storage spoke poorly of my family and friends. Well, I couldn’t blame my deadbeat friends or my brother Jonah. There was no way he’d ever be rolling in dough.
My fab wouldn’t make any fun drugs, but it didn’t balk at whipping up alcohol and tobacco, and while I was no longer physically addicted, I craved a high desperately. After my last day with Asha creating my profile and lining up temporary housing, I retreated to my room and conjured up a bottle of top-shelf booze and two liters of ice cold, name-brand cola. The fabricators were good with branded garbage food. No more store-brand soda for me!
The first sip of Rum and Coke made me groan with pleasure.
The fizz, the acid bite, the smoky heat. The caffeine and sugar perked me up while the booze calmed me down. Throw in the pack of Native American cigarettes (No additives! Practically organic!), and the huge TV, and I was halfway to heaven. There were about a million hours of shows and movies from the last hundred or so years included in my rehab.
I’d been absentmindedly chewing the nail of my right forefinger while browsing the media catalog. Before I did any more damage, I fabbed some dark blue nail polish. The purchase decremented a credit-counter in the lower left corner of my display by a decimal fraction. Huh. Not free.
Turned out, nothing here was free. But nothing cost much either.
I put on an oldies music channel and painted my finger and toenails, listening to crappy pop music from my high school days. Then I drank and smoked and watched TV. Eventually I felt super itchy and lonely, and I found myself crying again uncontrollably.
Which, like I said, was nuts.
I spiked my Coke with the rest of the rum, jammed some smaller ice cubes through the spout, and wandered around the park outside my window, breaking open-container laws. If there still were such things. I fed the ducks some bread I’d whipped up in my fab for this purpose. I sat on a bench and smoked and watched people, feeling no need to introduce myself. Nobody approached me. I wasn’t giving off an approachable vibe.
I finished my booze and afterward kept falling down on the footpath, skinning my knees, and bruising my palms. At some point I noticed I wasn’t wearing any pants.
Someone in a gray jumpsuit helped me into a wheelchair and took me back to my room.
* * *
Asha comped me another twenty-four hours rehab out of her pocket. I thanked her, feeling irritable and ashamed. She told me to pay it forward. I resisted snarking at her for being a saint. I’d met her sort before. People that made you feel bad about yourself when you disappointed them. People you sort of liked who were too good to think of as possible friends.
We talked about my addictions. One thing led to another, to another . . . to here.
We sat in the big soft chairs in her office.
Tiny glowing script scrolled around the blue pill in my open palm, an identity alteration warning. When I looked at the capsule, a pop-up window in my wearable interface appeared. (I’d decided to use the interface contacts.) The disclaimer in my wearable was longer, and much, much scarier than the spoken version.
“Is there an antidote?”
“No.”
So there would be no going back. I had a weird thought. “What about my learning disability? Can I get that back?”
“No.”
“Someone should have warned me about that.”
“It was in the terms of service you approved.”
“I didn’t notice it.”
Asha nodded. “You need to pay more attention to such things.”
She was right and hard to stay mad at, though I tried. My mouth was dry.
“Your substance dependence is deep seated, a much bigger part of your identity than your learning disability. That pill will change you at a deeper level. The person that needed drugs and alcohol will be gone.”
I nodded. I poked the pill with my fingertip.
“You will feel differently about your memories. Your past will feel alien. Perhaps disgusting. You may need additional interventions to feel normal again.”
There were plenty of things I remembered that I already didn’t like. That didn’t scare me. What did was the idea of having to fill the void this would leave behind.
I had known plenty of people that weren’t addicts. I drank and smoked and drugged with them. Substances were fun for them. They wouldn’t dream of drinking in the morning to take the edge off. They got hangovers and then abstained, for days, weeks, months. They quit altogether, to take jobs with mandatory drug screens.
All of which had struck me as incomprehensible.
I mean, you have this intolerable feeling inside, and it’s bad, horrible, and you can fix it, you can make it go away. Of course you do that. Sure, in the long run it ruins your life. But what is the point of living when you feel so effing rotten?
“You don’t have to take that,” Asha said. “You can do twelve-step. Use medication to stave off cravings. Make the transition to a new identity slowly. Step by step. Then take the pill. Lots of people do it that way.”
I hated twelve-step. With a passion.
I picked up the pill between thumb and forefinger. I’m the type that rips off Band-Aids. I leap into freezing water rather than slipping in by degrees.
“Five minutes?”
“Closer to fifteen,” Asha said. “And you’ll want to lie down.”
The chair I was sitting in gently shifted and seethed, slowly lengthening into a sofa.
I lay down and swallowed the pill.

Read the exciting conclusion in this month's issue on sale now!
Copyright © 2019. You Must Remember This by Jay O'Connell
SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

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Tom Mazanec
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Re: Couple Singularity books

Postby Tom Mazanec » Thu Dec 05, 2019 6:47 pm

SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

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Tom Mazanec
Posts: 2439
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2008 12:13 pm

Re: Couple Singularity books

Postby Tom Mazanec » Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:19 pm

In The Year's Best Science Fiction Tenth volume is "Birth Day" by Robert Reed.
One August 28th all the supercomputers in the world just "wake up".
And all disappear.
Now every year on that day, they return and give humanity a day of magic.
SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS


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