Quia Sum, Cogito: Chapter 4

this is approximately a 21 minutes 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% 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.

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 3.7° [Celsius, 38.66° Fahrenheit] above the average of the mid 20th century. The drastic rise ruined the habitability of much of the tropic region forcing relocation to agriculturally strained moderate regions. 25 of the 37 global aquifers which had been regularly depended on and depleted over the 20th and early 21th centuries were exhausted. 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 geographic 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.

It was only through the effort of independent and “cloud sourced” researchers that solutions (pollution siphoning, soil-nutrient infusion, exothermic water filtering and energy creation, etc) to the perpetual problems were solved.The only exception being the RELIEF technology developed by the CapDem regime which altered their military to adapt more efficiently to the reduced resources. Through hormone, pheromone, and metabolic manipulation; the biological response to stress was slightly modified allowing the “consciousness” to withstand a lack of resources and the rise in heat. Temporarily this was used for natioinalistic domination, but since then it has been adapted worldwide into the lesser-invasive eco-nology we have normalized today. 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 resolved by 2065.

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

The agenda for the day: first hydration where I’ll talk with Scott, followed by 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 product’s ad preference shifts constantly. In addition to their youthful enthusiasm, the freshmen present an inconsistent display of highlighted 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 contracts and preorder the products that will be “in style” for a small period of time. 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 – line the center of the room and are being prepped for the rush a few hours from now. I go to the right and grab a Sitters Inn coffee.  While it’s not great persay, 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 due to 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. 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, T8!” We sit opposite each other, “The new algorithm is running strong and we should get our first results in a few hours, T9.”

“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 the delayed smile occurs a moment later removes the illusion of sincerity. He laughs while I shake my head in fake annoyance. “I can never tell with you.

“No, the high spenders are typically the ones that are specific who they donate to. Because of that, we can use them to find people who were both uneducated with money and had the survival skills to outlast the climate wars and have offspring today.”

“What is the ‘T’ on that?”

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

“So debt 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 shuffle a bit 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 tag the timecode. 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 “contrats! 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 water wars of 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 US 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. It 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 with Scott he 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 realize what it is, something that I’ve never seen on him before so it was hard to place: Scott was jealous that I was on a first name basis 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.

After grabbing the data disk that has the presentation stored on it from my desk drawer and checking on GFMAppy’s progress (on track). I head to the presentation room on the west wing; the obürgs wing. After navigating the halls I know well, I take a turn which leads to the catwalk which is one of the few structures linking the west wing and the east. 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 20 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 of the path. I’ve always known the diameter to be as wide as I am tall (the rare person that traverse 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. 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.

My first instinct after the visual barrier gives way to the new location 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 movement is subdued enough to proceed to the presentation room down the hall. Inside (which is thankfully devoid of distractions) I place the data disk on the hub and allow the presentation 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, he is known for his respect for traditional attire; 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. 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 does, and I’m in no position to spend anytime trying to remember. 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, 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 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. Through 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 end is solid leaving me with a further amplified confidence that 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. I couldn’t help but acknowledge that my stomach now felt brick bottoming out. 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 average we normally do?”

“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 of comfort 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. 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 if we could have some meaningful outcomes.” Even without the AR portion of my memory, I recall the multiple software updates to the GFM machine causing the previous runs to break. 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, “Currently the Death Records and Gun Purchase division brings in the most debt.” 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 retain debt relief that would be allotted for the traditional staff by getting 1.5 times the labor directly from those trying to destroy us. While this was theory at one point, this only came to fruition by seeing what was currently going on – that the Consensus repeatedly paid off the small debts that traditionally brought people into the fold – and – rearranged it to our benefit – having a systemic free labor system that they will never escape from. It forced an enemy to become subservient while increasing the amount of profit we made 2 fold since we no longer needed to pay wages. Those are results that can be demonstrated. This is what we are looking for in management.

“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 meeting that was a waste of his time. The other two participants showed the same, but with less transparency; 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 standard operating procedure to get a copy of all presentations for…” he thinks for a second, “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 was 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 insignifice 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. Thinking of the news article I read earlier today, I realize my name will go down in history.

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 existential nothingness that is now consuming me helps me to reject the ads that bombard me as I leave the obürg wing, back to where I belong.