It was the end of social media and business technology software. We promised it would change the world in a way no other social media tool ever could. We believed it could change the future.
Yes, you heard it right. This technology could see the past and with some degree of accuracy predict the future. The startup company was ambitious and believed they could market the ultimate social media tool. The tag-line was “it knew where you were and where you’re going.”
The capability had always been around. The bits and pieces were actually around for decades, but no one knew what to do with them. I dropped out of college at MIT in my second year. I kept trying to tell them what I was seeing in my mind but no one understood.
I decided to build it myself. I found an early quantum computer; by this time they were cheap and still barely being used. They were able to process an enormous amount of data but were not being used for much other than weather prediction and my weatherman was still better than most of them. But weather was too granular, what we wanted was climate. The ability to see and gather a wide array of information and extrapolate the possibilities. Refine the opportunities from what was possible to what was possible and eventually to what was probable.
I wrote the software myself, stealing time from my father’s company supercomputer to model the software. What I did was merge all of the previous internet data into a data construct marking every time stamp, every video file, every second of recorded time for any individual. After all we live in a surveillance society. Privacy was dead or so they kept boasting.
It took me nearly eight years to finish the software and I hired several of my father’s friends to work on the hardware components separately so none of them truly understood what they were building. Another five years passed as I began integrating data from the internet and any private networks I could buy access from. I spent my entire inheritence, a sum of nearly two billion dollars.
The first test were integrating the quantum computers merged with a vampire program that absorbed every scrap of information about anyone entered into the database. It promised a chrono-temporal viewing of anyone.
I used myself as the first test subject.
What was I doing on September 15, 2105? The holosuite lit up and showed my parents house when I was just eight years old. Mom, oh god, I haven’t seen her in so long. She was cleaning up after some party. She had help of course. Margaret was helping her and I was asleep on the sofa gorged on cake. The footage is gritty relatively speaking, using the housecameras of the time. Where did it find this data? Was it reconstructing it? Or was it on the mediasphere somewhere on an ancient series of servers arrays?
The software was supposed to be relaying the timeline data to me from the source, but the code might have still had some bugs in it. The time code worked along with the timestamp but the source data fields were not filled in.
Margaret was my mother’s personal assistant who helped her with the businesses she ran while my father was plundering the world. There was no sound with the video. I wish I could have heard my mother’s voice. She died a few days after this video was made. Or so I thought.
Margaret and my mother seemed to be having some words and I could tell they were fighting. I panned around the room but the angles were limited. The conversation seemed to get heated and my mother stomped off. Margaret sat down and finished a bottle of wine sitting on the table. When my mother came back she was holding her data pad. I interrupted the stream to find the data on that pad and the reconstruction came in. It was a termination contract with pay!
Margaret put her thumb on the page to assent. As my mother turned her back to her, Margaret hits her in the head with the wine bottle. Unlike movie bottles, it doesn’t break. My mother seemed momentarily stunned and tries to turn around. Margaret hits her again, this time with conviction.
My mother hits the ground and doesn’t move.
Margaret makes a phone call and within thirty minutes my father comes home. The whole time she just sits there and drinks. She doesn’t even look at my mother.
My father comes in and does the unthinkable. He hugs Margaret. Then he kisses her. I couldn’t believe my eyes. What comes next was even more unbelievable. He bends down and checks my mother’s pulse. I think she was still alive. He pinches her nose and covers her mouth. She struggles weakly.
My father gets up, walks over to Margaret and backhands her to the floor. He points up at the camera and searches for a remote. He cuts the video.
He told me she died in an accident.
He was always so dutiful to go to her gravesite and leave her flowers. Margaret married him and became my stepmom.
She always told me how much she loved me.
I looked at the machine and realized I had to know what it would do when asked to predict the future. What does my future hold for September 15, 2135, the anniversary of my mother’s death.
It shows my father and Margaret standing at my mother’s mausoleum, talking quietly together. The cameras have sound now. “He has been working on a project for nearly ten years. It has been the most productive he has been since his mother passed. It’s good for him.”
Margaret looked at him, she was still pretty, but all I can see is that look on her face as she swung that bottle for the second time. “He just stares at me when he comes to the house. He won’t talk to me or anyone else. He goes down into his lab and works. Comes up again three or four days later, stinking and crazed. I want you to get him his own apartment.”
“He told me his project was going to be the ultimate social media technology, giving people the opportunity to see their lives in a perspective they never had before.” My father almost sounded proud.
“Hello Dad. Margaret.” I see myself come into the mausoleum and I know something is immediately wrong. I never wear white. White is the color of death in my culture. I am wearing a white suit with a black shirt and black shoes. My hair hasn’t been this neatly cut in nearly a decade. I look like a fashion model. “I am glad we could be here for the anniversary of Mother’s passing. I wanted to show you my software. I think she would want you to see this. I just released it to the world at large.”
I show them the night Mom died. Neither one says anything.
“Where is this software now?” My father’s voice was trembling.
“Everywhere. It has been churning through the internet, every government database, every corporate database, every server farm on Earth. Privacy is dead. So I figure we might as well put everyone’s secrets on display.”
“What have you done?”
“Bankrupted the world. A world without secrets, a world without the ability to hide its past, a world unable to forgive its sins, is a world that will never last. I have put this software into every computer everywhere, so any question asked will reveal the future with a high degree of accuracy, and the past with almost pinpoint precision.”
Margaret looks at me and screams “How does this help anyone?”
It won’t. “It just gets rid of the hypocrisy that we are all doing what we do because it matters, because somehow our noble efforts raise up humanity as a collective whole. Because that is a crock of shit and you know it. We have used our money to keep us rich at the expense of every poor person on Earth. Save the speech. Let’s go outside. There is something you will want to see.”
We step outside and I can see my father reaching into his jacket to pull out his handgun. “Look up Dad. You see those trails? Those are bombers with the final solutions. Someone has decided their secrets mattered enough to destroy the enemy who knew revealed them to the world. Don’t worry, in a few minutes, our nuclear stockpile will be launched as well and everyone will have a ring side seat to the end of the world.”
“How long have you had this machine, son?”
“I have had a working prototype for well over five years now.”
“Did it ever occur to you to ask what made us do what we did?”
“Why would I? I already knew everything I needed to know. I had already seen the past, again and again. You killed her and you didn’t even shed a tear.”
“To hell with your sorry. Look up Dad. I just killed the fucking world. Do I look like I care?”
My father was a genius. I always knew I took after him. I just never realized how smart he was. He looked up at the camera in the frame of the mausoleum. “I know you are looking at this, likely for the first time and thinking this will make everything okay. Your pain will go away and the world will end and everything will be made right. But it won’t. Killing everyone else because you think the world sucks is one way to solve the problem but not the only way.”
“Who are you talking to?” I screamed as I watched the bombers closing in overhead.
“You. Right now you can’t listen. I hope you will then.”
“You can know too much. You can be burdened with too much knowledge. Ultimately all social media will burn up and burn out not because people won’t love it. They will burn out on all of its information, even the agencies who crave our data will eventually come to realize there will be too much to eat, a never-ending meal, gagging us all.”
I could hear the bombers as they began their approach, their munitions dropping from the sky, screaming as they fell.
“Listen to me. I made mistakes. I have had to live with them. Don’t make the same mistakes we did. You will only have five years to regret your decision, right now. Don’t regret. Put this down and live a life worth having.”
He takes his gun, shoots Margaret, then me and as the munitions fell, himself. The cluster bombs lit up the cemetery and the camera went out.
I was sweating and realized he was right. I ran out of the basement leaving the computer running.
“End simulation.” I used the device to look into the past and then the future. I disabled the ability to look and permutate the future and removed the granularity of searching for individual video streams as a means of creating the ability to allow families to keep a running video of tender moments, nothing graphic, nothing terrifying, nothing other than the most precious memories.
The software was wildly successful and my father’s companies were made fantastically rich. I will inherit them after his death in an auto accident on his way to the cemetery six years from now. He and Margaret are tragically killed.
I was not surprised.
I kept the prototype.
Relego Relegi Relectum © Thaddeus Howze 2012, All Rights Reserved
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