Quia Sum, Cogito: Chapter 4

this is approximately a 23 minute read.

On the climate war

Between the years of 2015 to 2030, the world’s population changed from 7,379,797,139i to 8,579,243,623ii: a 16% change.

Between the years of 2030 to 2045, the world’s population changed from 8,579,243,623 to 97,398,172iii: a -99% change.

Between the years of 2030 to 2045, the owners-of-75%-of-all-wealth’s population changed from 4,620iv to 5,221v: a 13% positive change.

Researcher note: While this is intended to be an academic paper, it needs to be accented – for those not statistically inclined – how insane this correlation is. The climate wars killed the world without discretion with one known anomalous exemption: the absurdly wealthy. They excluded themselves from the war machines that coerced the starving and homeless with the overblown promise of comfort for the sake of becoming a mercenary of the state. Of course, when everyone is at war doing the same thing, it is hard to tell if it is an international Capitalistic Governance sanctioned genocide. Apologies for the personal aside. We all have bias and it is important to make those transparent so the reader knows the perspective they are reading. T7

While the individual human impact on the climate was significantly dropped due to the drastic reduction in population, 2045 still had the ongoing environmental impacts keeping the global temperature around 3.9° [Celsius, 7.2° Fahrenheit] above the average of the mid 20th century. The drastic rise ruined the habitability of much of the extreme zone (formally known as the tropic region) forcing relocation to more moderate areas that were becoming agriculturally strained. 25 of the 37 global aquifers which had been regularly depended on and depleted over the 20th and early 21th centuries were exhausted.T9 In addition to creating mass drought and famine, the blatant unwillingness to abandon natural energy extraction removed the tectonic plate’s natural lubricants causing regular and amplified earthquakes due to the sub-topographical grind we are familiar with today. This obviously caused massive human conflict when attempting to secure resources which was motivated and perpetuated by the Capitalistic Governance integrated into the international war machines.T8

In spite of the common narrative, it was only through the effort of independent and “cloud sourced” researchers which the majority of solutions (pollution siphoning, soil-nutrient infusion, exothermic water filtering and energy creation, etc) to the perpetual problems were solved. The most well known and overly promoted exception being the RELIEF technology developed by the CapDem regime which altered their military to adapt more efficiently to the reduced resource environments. Through hormone, pheromone, and metabolic manipulation; the biological response to stress was slightly modified allowing the “consciousness” to withstand a lack of sustenance and the rise in heat. Temporarily this was used for nationalistic domination at the expense of greatly reduced lifespans of the “beta testers”. Once it was introduced to the public, the initial issues had generally been rectified and it was mutated into the lesser-invasive eco-nology we have normalized today.T9 It is the general agreement that all of these mitigations of the climate catastrophe is the only reason the climate wars were able to be generally resolved by 2065. T8

The Principles and Application of Historical Topology – H.T.3 Kathrine Thomas and S.H.2. Erisha Goel – published September 23, 2088

The agenda for the day: first hydration and a talk with Scott, then a presentation for the new algorithm, afterward the new reports should be ready for review.

On the walk to the cafeteria, I get the typical bombardment of ads. Someone’s new shoe, the icon of a chair on someone’s mug, someone with a newer version of the BioWear, a Chidell’s tie pin. Easy things to ignore because they are so constant. Even the rare explosion of visual noise generated by the obürgs becomes less distracting over time. They are in contrast to many of the new hires who aren’t yet aware that the contracts for ad preference shift constantly. In addition to their youthful enthusiasm, the freshmen present an inconsistent display of attractive attire. The smart ones will realize quickly that the optic normalization we all eventually achieve negates the expensive attempt to gain passive attention. Until then, they will diligently read the constantly published ad updates and preorder the products scheduled to be “in style” for the next microseason. This happened to us all; a right of passage.

When I get to the cafeteria – a floor below me – the double doors are propped open displaying the various food kiosks. The salad and soup station – three long troughs where different greens and toppings will be laid out in a few hours – lines the center of the room and is being prepped for the expected lunch rush. I go to the right and grab a Sitters Inn coffee. While it’s not great per se, it is my usual. After adding a sugar, I charge my tab with the cashier and find Scott sitting alone at the first seat in a long column of empty tables. There are other patrons, but he stands out a bit. His short, almost black hair with untamed curls which respect his Mediterranean heritage is in contrast with others’ business grooming that is in style for the cycle. Additionally, his tanned appearance (not as dark as me, but not as pale as everyone else) and his version of the BioWear that covers part of his face makes him an oddity. While on one hand, his version both adds a cultural and expected justified asymmetry that no one can avoid seeing, it also is the most unnatural variant lying directly on the spine and drawing out the most power. Choosing it is both respectful and deplorable. He looks up and greets me.

“Tark! How are you?!” He rises and clasps me on the shoulders in his normal greeting. His short wide frame gives an impression of jovial kindness that his personality reflects.

“I’m really good!” I move around the table to sit opposite him, “The new algorithm is running strong and we should get our first results in a few hours.”

“That’s the one that looks for the relatives?”

“No, this is the one that searches through high donors on the GFM servers.”

“Why do you care about people donating? Has the Debt Recovery Department changed focus?”

“No?” I return the look of misunderstanding. He appears genuinely confused until he relaxes into a delayed smile removing the illusion of sincerity. He laughs while I shake my head in fake annoyance. “I can never tell with you.

“No, it was proposed that repetitive high donors would be more critical with how they invested and who they donated to. Because of that, we can use them to find people who were heavily burdened by debt, had the survival skills to outlast the climate wars, and were successful enough to have offspring today.”

“What is the ‘T’ on that?”

“It’s still a theory but based on sound concepts, so somewhere between 7 and 8 probably, but we don’t really know.”

“So debt identification through networking?” He sits back and gets lost in thought for a second and muses to himself. “Hmm. That’s ironic.”

“What is?”

The question pulled him back to our conversation. He looks at me and smiles, “Oh nothing just the way that information flows. You’ll be passing this to Mrs. Margie I assume?”

Margie is my direct supervisor, but I can’t deny that bypassing her and handing this off to Dr. Grange directly makes me feel like this could actually be worth something. I sit back in my seat to get a bit more comfortable. “Grage actually.” At the mention of the name, Scott stares at me for a moment and there is a look about him that’s a bit off. I follow up with the confirmation “T9” and a confident smirk. I note the timecode of the AR to ensure I can appreciate his look later: 9:12 – I bookmark it. The schedule clock in the overlay catches my attention and I double check when I’m presenting: 10:00, and I’ll need 18 minutes to travel and prep time.

When I refocus on Scott, he’s beaming at me “Congrats! This is a big move up!”

“Oh… no. I’m just implementing it and presenting it to everyone. It’s not like I came up with the idea.”

“Don’t sell yourself short! We all stand on the shoulders of giants, T8.” And he gives a slightly sarcastic grin.

“Maybe. Oh speaking of, did you hear the news this morning?”

“Which bit? The potential conflict over water in Europe or the attack in New York?”

“New York. It looks like this could really do some damage to the Consensus. T8. Maybe they will stop hindering our progress… finally.”

“Bringing back the natural state of society? Nice lawns, white picket fences, all that?”

“It would be so nice.” I let myself consider it for a second. “Anything new with the Eurpoeans?”

“Last I heard the negotiations between the middle east coalition and the meridian consensus were breaking down. The Middle-east is threatening nuclear strikes again. All that is T6 though.”

“I’ve never understood why the Europeans don’t just take them out, they have enough to do it since the Americans provided them with the stockpile. If we still had control of the military this would be settled before it started.”

“Maybe. Times have changed though.”

“Even when they have power the Consensus is useless.” I take a drink of tea and the warning goes off drawing my attention to the time. I put it on snooze for 10 minutes without even thinking about it. “How are things going on your side of the park?”

We continue discussing the dynamics of medicine profits and different agreements we have to compensate for costs. The conversation moves gradually to the patent leaks and the crack down on the AR intranet to ensure we can keep that avenue of debt secured. A casual conversation… normal, ritualistic. “As always, it was nice talking to you. T9.” 

“You as well, Tark. Don’t be late for your meeting. I see you’re out tomorrow?” He looked at my schedule. Most people you can notice when they are accessing their VR, but Scott does it seamlessly.

“Yeah… nothing big. Just can’t make it in. Integrity with function.”

He gives his typical graceful nod, “Take care of yourself. Until next time. Integrity with function.” He salutes me with a tip of his tea before going back to drinking it and I take my leave.

The walk back up to my office is needed to collect my presentation. On the way, I check the time stamp in which Scott gave me an odd look and replay the captured log. I watch it twice before I can place the expression, something that I’ve never seen on him before so it was hard to identify: Scott was jealous that I was on a first name basis professionally with one of the obürgs. I smile because of it. I got one up on him. On Scott. He’s always been so stoic, so unreadable, and I made him jealous.

The presentation is stored on a data disk in my desk. After grabbing it and checking on GFMAppy’s progress (on track), I head to the presentation room on the west wing.

The obürgs’ wing.

I absentmindedly navigate the halls I know well to the previously forbidden turn leading to the catwalk: one of the few structures linking the west wing and the east. I venture to the overpass and – for the first time in 5 years – I look down on either side of the glass barriers giving a birds eye view of the main entrance 25 feet below. I drink in every step as I traverse the mythic space that so few are allowed to pass.

Half way across, the top of the Broken Gear rises just above the floorline, mounted to the side. I’ve always known the diameter to be as wide as I am tall (the rare person that walks the bridge could put the size in perspective), but being close enough to touch it provides newfound respect for both the material (seems to be actual metal) and sheer volume of it. I can’t help but stall for a few moments to admire the overwhelming awe of the icon I’m standing above. The amount of detail that was put into making each of the rounded teeth identical, the consistent formation of the outer edge, except for the break right at the top where the thinner intricate spider web of cross beams can barely be seen. Stunning.

Then I wake up from the childlike idolization and realize how ridiculous I must appear, and I continue to the security checkpoint with a newfound sense of purpose. I’m no longer someone who walks below the Gear, but I’ve stood above it. I realize that the esoteric branch I’ve been invited to is no longer somewhere that is out of my reach, but somewhere I belong. Today, they see my value. I’ve been invited to their domain. When compounded with the pride of making Scott jealous, I realize that this shift in status is what it feels like to belong. What it feels like to have success.

The overlay shows I have access as I walk to the door, and I pull it open.

My first instinct as the visual barrier gives way is to take a step back. The VR overlay that I’ve previously normalized immediately revolts against my senses. Almost every object in this new setting is activating an ad for the overlay. I look past the peripheral distractions just long enough to see a chair intended to let people relax. I take advantage of the accommodation and let my sight adapt to the absurd assault on my primal mind.

Everything from throw rugs to name plaques on doors to the lights embedded in the ceiling… everything is trying to attract my focus. But after an excruciating 3 minutes, the constant peripheral movement is subconsciously subdued enough to continue down the hall. Inside the presentation room (which is thankfully devoid of distractions) I place the data disk on the hub and allow the dossier to load up. Two minutes later the audience of three filter in:

Margerie Klien (or – as Scott calls her – the Marvelous Mrs. Margie or simply Mrs. Margie) has a mid-sized frame. The heels she wears and the professional attire amplify her charismatic aesthetic to ensure that she is at least looked at as an equal. Her longer dirty blond hair is deliberately draped over her left shoulder as always. She comes off immediately as caring and kind, and – in the two years she has supervised me – she consistently presents her motherly advice and critique for those that she presides over. Even though it’s not strictly her project,  she’s always ready to give direction and guidance for the social algorithm I’m presenting today.

Roger Chack I only know by reputation and his profile. His name is associated with almost every recent advancement in the Debt Department and is rightfully the administrator of the entire group. In addition, his respect for traditional attire is well known; the plump physic is offset by the starched outfit that is (referencing a memory) a custom replica of the official 2045 CapDem uniform. It’s not much of a change from the uniforms that were used prior to the CapDem leadership: three button jackets with a wide lapel with a belt holding it in place. Unlike the prior uniforms this was a light gray, and there was a pin of the Broken Gear where the honor rack would be just above the left breast pocket. The subtle but obvious combover which gracefully convers his minor bald patch gives the illusion of a close cut which matches his militant ensemble. He knows of my personal extra-curricular task tomorrow which is reaffirmed by his kind, respectful, yet pointed smile that he – and only he – gives me upon entering.

The final participant was Timothy McGain. While he’s identified by the overlay as a social structural engineer, I’m not exactly sure what that is, and I’m in no position to spend any time trying to remember the inner workings of the obürgs’ corporate infrastructure. I’ll do that later. He is the most unsettling of the group. Everything about him is a challenge to look at, from his prestigious yet unprofessional silk shirt, to the dress pants that would have been expected if not for the seeming unnatural flow to them, to the well manicured toes seen through the elaborate sandals; everything was completely symmetrical. Even his slicked back hair and meticulously groomed beard and mustache (in the rare “anchor” style) alone is off putting, but every hair seemed to have a reflection. Everything was in its perfect place which accentuated the one exception: a three inch scar falling across his right lip allowing his teeth to barely be seen.

All presentation rooms have the same layout: three sections (left, right, and center) each with 4 rows. They are wedges spreading out behind with one seat and a desk in the front, the second row having 3 seats and a desk, and the following just seats for extra observers. The participants take their expected spots, one in each section in the first row.

Don’t blow this. (The ads that are only being presented by the three obürgs attempt to distract me every time I look away from any one of them.)

Delivering the methodology used to develop the social algorithm as well as how it was implemented into GFMAppy takes a little over 20 minutes. Staying focused on a solid description is difficult; the apprehension of addressing superiors compiled with the constant organic distraction brought about by the ads and the placement of the participants pulling my attention is frustrating. They want me here though. I deserve to be here. If they can deal with the distractions of this environment, so can I. Throughout the entire presentation I notice moments of intrigue and distraction from each of the audience members, but in general they are simply ingesting what is being said with no response. In spite of the rough start, the solid ending reinforces my confidence: I belong here, this is where I’m meant to be.

Now for the questions and clarification portion.

“Tark,” Timothy starts. His ambiguity and challenge to read is additionally off putting from his appearance, so the first question comes as a bit of a shock, “You’ve seemed distracted this whole time, is there something more pressing on your mind?”

What? Was the presentation really that bad? It didn’t seem that way. “I’m focused sir, was there any part that was unclear in the presentation?”

Margie chimes in, drawing the attention to the other side of the room addressing Timothy, “This is Tark’s first presentation to management. He’s usually much more focused on the menial aspects: acquisition, implementation, analysis… that type of stuff.” At the end of the phrase she waved her hand around like she was brushing away an annoying fly. My stomach now felt brick falling through water. What else is there other than ‘that type of stuff?’ Am I that far out of my league that I don’t know what I don’t know?

Timothy turns back to me and I see almost an apologetic judgment, “Oh. I see. Let me speak plainly then: what results do you have to show for your efforts? How many debts have you found so far and how does that compare to the daily average?”

“The implementation is currently being run for the first time and the preliminary results look promising. It is hard to tell due to the lack of hard evidence, but the yield is theoretically expected to be 3 fold what keyword searches are currently producing. Even when including the Blockbuster debts, this will single handedly pull in more because of the untapped medical and student debt that can be found.”

This time Roger speaks up, and my last potential ally of the group is lost, “but no practical results?” His voice is hopeful, but we both know it is an unfounded inquiry. As soon as it is said, I realize the presentation is a failure.

“No. As of right now this is only theoretical… sir.” The various subtle reactions to the comment (a small readjustment in sitting position from one, looking away from another, a sigh from the last) further solidifies the reality that my hysteric desire to prove myself would ensure that I couldn’t succeed. The presentation wasn’t ready. This is my fault.

Margie’s voice is caring but stern: “Tark, our focus is on the practical implementation. Theory is fine to fiddle with or even to try,” Timothy looks at her with curiosity at these words “… assuming that we can justify the risk of wasted effort,” Timothy returns his focus on me seemingly satisfied with her clarification, “but – Tark – we’ve invested a lot into the acquisition of the GoFundMe servers. I’m sorry, but it was incredibly insulting for you to approach us with this before you have any conclusive data. Having a 3rd delay of this meeting would have been an inconvenience, but that would be preferable to a lack of meaningful outcomes.” Even without the AR portion of my memory, I recall the multiple software updates to the GFM machine and system surges which corrupted the previous runs. She’s right though, I should have delayed the meeting again.

Roger continues her thought, “Do you know which effort brings in the most debt return, Tark?”

Finally a foothold to show I’m competent, so without a thought of doubt I dogmatically recite “Currently the Death Records and Gun Purchase division brings in the most practical and actionable debts.” His flippant smile puts me in freefall again.

“No, it’s the Work-Debt Arrangement we have with the Consensus,” I should have known that. It’s the implementation that Roger is famous for, “this was only institutionalized after 3 years of negotiations and testing. It’s a testament to the superiority of the CapDems that we could manipulate those wanting to destroy us by offsetting the labor cost of the traditional staff. System wide, the decision to forgo calling in the debts which the Consensus covered in trade for – basically – slave labor increased profits by 1.5 times. While this was theory at one point – and risky at that – this was only justified by what actually was happening: the Consensus would use its own innovations to pay off the small debts that traditionally brought people into the fold – and the pay we expended on our end was of greater cost. This reduced our monetary influence over other offices and we couldn’t purchase necessary materials. In addition, the rearrangement ensures control over the anarchists’ self providence. It forced an enemy to become subservient while simultaneously forcing them to eat the cost of the labor they are now providing us for free! Those are demonstrable results that no one can refute. Those are the types of results that management is looking for.

Roger concludes: “Do you understand?”

“Of course, sir. I was hoping a potentially new avenue for resource acquisition would be report worthy. I apologize.”

There is a moment of silence to see if anyone else has any additional feedback. Timothy then stands up, signaling the end of the meeting, his superficial show of appreciation inadequately covering his obvious irritation at being called into a presentation that was a waste of his time. The other two participants showed the same, but with less apparent animosity; I may have actually thought they were somewhat impressed if I hadn’t been primed with Timothy’s response first to see beyond their kindness.

Timothy walks up to me and – without any judgment or critique – requests, “it is SOP- er… standard operating procedure to get a copy of all presentations for…” he pauses for a second before finding the right words, “educational purposes. Do you mind?” and he points to the data disk. I notice the other two making their way out the exit.

“Oh… no… absolutely”

After removing the physical disk, he looks at me with an intense focus. The ordinary farewell is issued more as a command, “Integrity with function.”

“Integrity with function, sir.” The response is unexpectedly weak under the scrutiny of his gaze, but he turns to leave without another word.

I retain my composure until no one is left; but as soon as they are out of sight, I stagger to a chair and collapse in it. The overblown confidence I had coming into the meeting has now been replaced by a void of insignificance that is roughly the same size. I will never have a chance at a legacy like this again. In theory, this could have rivaled the Work-Debt Arrangement. Now it may never see the light of day… all because I was too rash in wanting to be noticed. I sit for a few minutes in silent contemplation of where I go from here. There is nowhere to go. I’ve hit the ceiling of my life, inevitably to be lost in a sea of obscurity.

Is this my destiny? To be mistaken for another unambitious peon? To have my legacy and the legacy of my ancestors to halt with me? To fail everyone? To be forgotten?

No. I will not let that come to pass. I can still be remembered if I get tomorrow right. I will get tomorrow right. Tess will be taken care of. Thinking of the news article I read earlier today, I realize my name will go down in history. I will be remembered.

I steal myself for the part I need to act out. I cannot let anyone know that this is my last day that I will be seeing them. The vacancy – which was once filled by the burdensome hope of personal, unique, and authentic drive; one that had held me back from this commitment – is now filled with dedication to the cause. The submissive acceptance of a reality I no longer have to fight against, one that is freely given and justified by the CapDems, is a validating emancipation. The existential conviction that is now consuming me helps me to reject the ads’ bombardment as I leave the obürg wing, returning back to where I deserve to be.