Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Redemption Machine - A Science Fiction Story

Sometimes the title to a piece comes first. Sometimes it comes last. This one came right at the end. During my week-long Devotion to Aergia what I wanted to write grew and became far more than I expected. And on the last day the goddess smiled and I understood that what I had in mind was science fiction.

Has anyone read Bob Shaw's short story, Light Of Other Days? That story and this one have a lot in common. Shaw's tale pivoted around a material called 'slow glass' that (what with light travelling through it at various 'slow' speeds) functioned as a window to the past. After assorted adventures the story ended with the CIA dusting an unsuspecting world with powdered slow glass. The dust in every room in your house, the dust mixed with the sweat on your brow, all of it, was a recorder visually charting everything everyone did. All the CIA needed to do was put it in a projector and play it back. It was the end of privacy.

Sure enough to slow light down in this fashion isn't physically possible. But this is! This is real and it's happening now. As things stand we're in clunkiness territory. But seriously, can anyone here not imagine how this will end up? The speed of technology is insane now. Record players barely changed for a century and suddenly in a few short years people have a thousand hours of music in their tie clip. So, where will ATR's mind-reading thing go?

With my science-fiction writer's hat firmly clamped on my head here's what I reckon - in the same amount of time it took to travel from the first VCR through to mobile phone cameras and youtube, a machine will exist that will allow a person to wander through another's head more readily than they can now wander through a hard drive. A head already has our operating system and you can talk to it, you see. And never mind those pesky permissions - the head-viewer will be super user. By merely saying a word, like 'murder', the viewer will see everything that person knows about murder. I expect memories will be listed in 'visceral' order. Murders someone has participated in will come first, witnessed - second, saw on tv - third... something like that.

But frankly, murderers will be the least of it. The greatest of them will never be subjected to this machine. Instead it will be for thought crime. It will be for us.

There will be no dissembling. The act of dissembling will be seen too. Whatever thoughts run through your head will be like the ticker tape running along the bottom of the TV screen. Or perhaps the voice-over? Either way there'll be nowhere to hide. Whoever has this machine will have it all.

So I read this article and a switch flipped in my head - "That's Fucking It! Once those fuckers get this machine it's all over. Time to start shooting people. Jesus!" Wait a minute, what about the obvious flipside? Imagine if we laid our hands on one of these machines and plugged one of the Rothschilds into it? Imagine a window into the mind of a fellow who views himself as greater than God? Imagine screening it to the public? Wow. There's the ultimate weapon right there.


The beautiful Aergia doesn't care for such riled thoughts. She's down with Buddha in dispelling fear and desire. Under her laid back guidance I realised I had everything wrong. This machine was not a thing to be feared. It's not a terminator robot that we either run from, or use as a weapon against them. It's far bigger than that. In fact, it might just be the biggest thing ever, with history dividing into 'before' and 'after'.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First up we must seize the ownership of this thing. It must be public. All research must be put into public hands with progress charted on the internet. We declare the machine is not a weapon. This is not the Manhattan Project and we are not at war with anyone. The machine is for all.

Initially the machine will simply be the means by which we determine who should hold positions of public trust. No one will be forced to be have their mind searched. But anyone who asserts that they are worthy of the public's trust will have to prove it. If you don't want to be subject to a public search of your mind, fine, no problems. But you're not going to run a child-minding centre. Or a church. Or a bank. Or a police force. Or a government. You'll just have to find some other means of making a living. No biggie.

Sure enough, this machine will be used on criminals who will not be volunteers. Okay, no problems. People may be involuntarily subjected to a machine but only by someone who has undergone it themselves. Using the machine is itself a position of public trust.

Under this rubric of 'public trust' the point isn't to search for saints and bodhisattvas. Mind you, if we find them that will be brilliant, an education for all. But forget them, we don't actually need saints. What we need are people who aren't corrupt, murderous, self-worshipping, paedophile motherfuckers. Is that too much to ask?

And for those out there thinking, 'Fucking hell. Do you know what wicked thoughts run through my head?' - you don't get it. It's you and everybody. Me too, sure. You plug me into it and it's all there - lying, cheating, stealing, committing violence upon people, and yep, even me perving on the endless parade of barely-teen bods hoping someone notices them on their way to the beach. I notice them alright. You would too. And?

And Jimmy Carter 'sinned in his heart' did he? Well shit, eh? Ain't no one who hasn't. Not that that stopped the hypocrites from wagging their fingers at poor old Jimmy. Well, a tuppence for that. The machine will change everything. Anyone who wants to make out that they're free to cast that first stone can prove it. They step up to the plate and plug into the machine. Showing up hypocrites is a thing worth doing sure, but it's nothing compared to the bombshell of seeing that our sins, which we imagined as very terrible, are actually run of the mill.

This fear we have of our innermost thoughts being seen is nothing, a wisp of smoke. We only imagine that no one thinks like we do. Being unmasked is only scary if no one else does it. Sure enough, fear of being nude in public makes no sense if you're in a nudist camp. Only an idiot would be embarrassed when everybody has their yayas out. Not forgetting of course, that no one is forcing anyone to go to this metaphoric nudist camp. If you don't want a position of public trust you don't need to lay yourself open. It's all voluntary.

And so... fuck it - I volunteer to go first. And yep, everyone can go nuts at the filth in my head. And then the next person, and the next, and the next, until eventually the filth in my head is seen for what it is - simple daily grime, ha ha.

MInd you, there'll be people whose disappointment in me will know no bounds. "You never loved me." "How can you think that about my daughter?" "You're just doing this out of politeness." Yep it's all true. But whatever - this blog has already caused some of my friends to disown me. Never mind - eggs is to be broken and fears are to be dispelled. We'll all just have to get used to it. I wonder if it will be cathartic? Confession is, you know. The Catholics haven't used it for centuries for no reason. The machine will be the ultimate version of getting something off your chest.

What tripped me over the line of fear in this matter is the fact that the machine as I imagine it wouldn't be selective. It would not show my sins in isolation. It will necessarily show how I view those things now and why I will never do them again. It will make clear the nature of my relationship with those not me, and what guides my actions. It will all be there.

That's when the beauty struck me - this thing will be the Redemption Machine. It will enable people to confess their sins fully and find complete forgiveness. No one will have anything to fear from it. Even for the most wicked man in the world, redemption will be an undeniable possibility - real, true, honest to God, redemption. Anyone who can display a cannot-be-faked understanding of the wrongness of their previous self-serving mindset will be welcomed by the rest of humanity. Remember, bullshit is impossible. The conversation in your head that says, 'Ha, that should fool them, suckers!' will be publicly broadcast. The wicked will fear this, sure, but the possibility of this as a process of redemption is massive. What are people going to say? 'I don't want to be redeemed'?


Eventually the redemption machine will reach a tipping point as it goes beyond a minority and becomes normal. Finally a useful purpose for peer-group pressure! Who knows where this will go? It occurs to me that eventually the redemption machine will be a piece of software on every computer in every home. People will plug in daily to have full honest communication with each other. Parents and children. Husbands and wives. Whomever. Perhaps we will go on the net to share our minds. Would that work?

I can imagine those who refuse to share their minds as eventually being driven into a tiny, shunned and beset minority. I also imagine a daily haemorrhage from the ranks of the wicked as individuals overcome their fear of redemption and join the rest of humanity in acknowledging the obviousness of right behaviour.

Dig it, it will be like Star Trek's Borg but instead of casting off humanity and becoming machine-like, the hive mind would function in the opposite fashion. Joining would be like falling off a stage and being caught - caught in arms of love, understanding, and forgiveness. Participation will be the ultimate declaration of humanity. Everyone who joins will be taking a large individual step (and a small collective one) towards one-with-the-universe.

This collective mind will address problems like poverty, pollution, and population (and alliteration!). Many many things, from technologies such as GMO, to stories and narrative based on us-and-them, will be abandoned as worthless. Me, I'll be pleased because I reckon the rightness of behaviour based on selflessness as the single determinant will become obvious. Complicated proscriptions of sin will fall by the wayside. As will false religions, false isms, hell, falsity in general. The world will never be the same. An extraordinary future is possible with all of man's preceding history being viewed as the Age of the Closed Mind.

Sadly, we're still there. Our minds are still closed and we have to share ideas by way of second-rate things like speech and the written word. Still, it's not too terrible. Words serve a purpose. Why don't we put those words to good use to light a fire in the minds of those head-down, arse-up scientists in at, where was it? Oh yeah, the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Japan. I think we need to blow their minds, to let them know what they're in amongst. I address them -

Boys and Girls, we all know that this thing is coming regardless. Ain't nothing anyone can do to stop it. But you're in amongst something bigger than anyone can imagine. It's possible that you just might be saviours who can deliver the redemption of mankind. And yep, it doesn't get much bigger than that. Get it right and the love and esteem of the world's people will be yours. I wish you well.


the Silverfish said...

Ahh, pipe dreams, rainbows and goblins in the mist, or perhaps it was fairies at the bottom of the garden. No matter, nice idea on paper. Science ficton storys are nice that way, read them, enjoy them and then put them back on the self.

nobody said...

Not forgetting of course that this machine IS coming. A machine that will plug into the mind and read it, I have pegged as an inevitability. The only questions will be, who gets it and what do they use it for?

Actually I figure it will either be released and be as huge as I imagine it, or it will disppear and we'll never hear from it again. I can't imagine any middle ground that will make any sense.

Yours aye, back on the shelf!

susana said...

Brilliantly written and inspirational.
However what would a redeemed humanity look like.
Is that not an oxymoron.
Once we realise we are not our thoughts and that these same ramblings and desires that appear to us are visited upon every aspect of consciousness then we are free.
Is that not the teaching of all spiritual masters.
Machines are always going to be open to misuse and for that reason I won't lend anyone a plug.

nobody said...

Well I'm glad YOU liked it. Never mind that grumpy Silverfish. And yes, the smart money would avoid it. But I was in a good mood and went on a good mood trip, if you can dig it. Oh, two minutes left on the battery. Seems I spent too long at Craig Murray's.

Ciao Ciao.

Miraculix (Doug) said...

As you so rightly imply, the crux of the bisquit is ownership. The highly compartmentalized world in which we live (not necessarily by our own choice) tends to swallow this sort of technology whole when it reaches the requisite level of function and utility, if not sooner. Yes, applications of this are coming, of that I also have no doubt. Peering into other's minds was a stated desire of the paymasters long before the Transistor Age, to identify the truly dangerous among us: those who harbor (or worse, implement and distribute) independent ideas espousing freedom from the embedded systems of control and coercion.

My concerns on the matter lay sullen and restive in the shadow realm between "precrime" and all the possible "practical applications" of such a system in the ever-expanding modern Panopticon surrounding and immersing our very bodies in an alien sea of EMF. To wit, I studied electronic & microwave theory and trained on some of the world's scariest and most powerful comms technology some twenty years ago, so I am not speaking from a generalist position on this subject.

As you so accurately state, for a device such as this to be used in a "selfless" manner, those who would control it must be operating from a just such a place -- and I'm laying strong odds right here and now that this will not be the case. As ever, the big question cuts right to the chase: how is this talented and creative crew of Japanese engineering and neuroscience types funding this little exploratory adventure into the wheelhouse of the human symbological apparatus?

Naturally, all such research is done with an eye toward "commercial applications"; right up until the project disappears behind the veil, never to be seen (by the public) again. All because the monsters under the bed that we discuss in places like this ARE the ones ultimately behind the funding of the great bulk of contemporary "scientific discovery" and technological breakthrough, directly or indirectly.

To visualize this next-generation "remote viewing" technology as the ultimate polygraph is surely an accurate take on the machines intended purpose, but so long as the industrial world remains in place -- haven of corporate lizards, blue blood and old money that it will always be at the uppermost echelon -- this scary machine will never be turned on its masters, except by competing masters. Yes, I said scary. Not for fear of having my innermost thoughts laid bare, but for the mental "rape" it will enable.

I also have sincere doubts that said ability to capture and recognize streaming images sampled from the visual cortex will ever translate to recognizing the subtleties of more complex thoughts/states. But the monsters sure to be operating said "truth seeker" won't be looking for subtleties or complexity. They'll be just another compartmentalized set of twisted lieutenants in lab jackets recording red light/green light auto-indications like "dangerous" or "subservient", based on sample databases and pattern recognition, all the while carefully noting your phobias and insecurities for later conditioning sessions (as required).

However, I am fond of the observation that revealing the steady stream of "impure" thoughts ebbing and flowing through our heads morning noon and night will demonstrate it as "standard background noise". What the "Mindvac 2000" will probably not be able to measure is the most important detail of all: context. Just as great oceans of data are meaningless without conceptual tools to allow "mining" for patterns, I suspect measuring states of mind will be fruitless beyond establishing basic templates that represent emotional states. Linked to decades of behavioral understanding gleaned from the "social sciences"? Scary.

So, as much as I would like to see this technology set free to become a twenty-first century Bodhi Tree, it is the act of freeing it that I most strongly suspect is the real "no-go". For that is a violation of "intellectual property" and patent law, the very noose at the end of the great corporate rope slowly strangling our diverse and creative species.

As for observing the accelerating rate of technological change (a non-linear phenomena akin to compound interest ha ha), I've had my eyes wide open since I figured out what made my first record player tick at the tender age of four. We are always sold the "benefits". Only the cranks, iconoclasts and Luddites are concerned about the obvious and potential repercussions. Socially speaking, we are just as marginal a group as we ever were, but at least we still have the "sanctity" of our skull.

Though if we are to believe the most credible of the V2K-afflicted, and tech stories like these, apparently not for much longer.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea is brilliant. Thank you for starting my day with something optimistic. I love the idea of Redemption for all.

the Silverfish said...

Yes Shelf, me bad.

nobody said...

Onya Mir, ya swine. Just ruin my whole daydream. Just joking. You're right of course. The other thing I didn't mention in this piece was the idea that 'read' is one thing and 'write' is another. I'm talking in terms of permissions, if you know what I mean (read write execute). Between seeing what's in a head and planting stuff in there, one of them is WAY more useful to motherfuckers.

As for visuals versus thoughts (of the 'conversation in your head' variety) I don't see why they won't crack those too. They're just more electro-magnetic impulses waiting to be decoded. And God knows they'll try!

Miraculix (Doug) said...

Onya Mir, ya swine. Just ruin my whole daydream. Just joking. You're right of course. The other thing I didn't mention in this piece was the idea that 'read' is one thing and 'write' is another. I'm talking in terms of permissions, if you know what I mean (read write execute). Between seeing what's in a head and planting stuff in there, one of them is WAY more useful to motherfuckers.Oink, my good man. As for "read/write/execute", that's why technologies like this (and others already behind the veil) are funded: the monsters already have both "write" and "execute" functionality at the most mundane level of all: flesh.

After all, what do the Pedophocracy ultimately produce, besides the traumatized flesh and damaged minds that are their favorite milieu? Pre-programmed foot soldiers, proven lieutenants and reliable mouthpieces, to cast a wide net. There's your write/execute "technology" right there. Not to mention delete, carraige return, and backspace. The only functionality they still lack is the operational "read" device. Hence my tragic level of cynicism on the subject, despite your excellent daydream... =)

As for visuals versus thoughts (of the 'conversation in your head' variety) I don't see why they won't crack those too. They're just more electro-magnetic impulses waiting to be decoded. And God knows they'll try!In this case, they are literally placing a "magnifying glass" at a specific point in the physical mind by way of recognizing a raw data stream: visual signals. From what I've read of the finer points of the technology, much like everything else in the world of "modern" science, these guys are chasing butterflies with sledgehammers -- blindfolded.

They may "crack" the basic neuro-chemical structures, which will allow a level of direct "observation", but it is only via pattern recognition and a well-managed sample database, that such data sets will be have any interpretive meaning. The human brain is a cognitive "matrix" of ever-adapting neuronal tissue operating at micro (and most likely macro) scales of complexity light years beyond our level of understanding or capability to observe.

And here's the real laugher: it's not the only brain we've got, according to the scientists themselves. It's our bod's CPU, for certain, but there are subprocessing locations in at least two other sections of the body, the most obvious being the "gut" in gut instinct, nowadays referred to as the enteric mind. Odds are very good, based on existing research, that our human systems are not nearly as hierarchical (top-down) as we are led to believe by those who advocate/sell the whole top-down worldview.

Tricky monkeys that we are, we've come up with ways to "predict" what will occur in Meatspace by harnessing statistics/numerology and rigorous observation, but for the most part all of modern science is merely an official accumulation of often politicized "best guesses" accumulated into a large, steaming pile and worshipped as one of the new religions of empirical empire alongside "economics". And revealed as such with the slightest amount of self-study beyond "accepted opinion".

Sure, they'll keep right on trying so long as the filthy lucre continues to flow. But lacking a holistic view of the interaction of human and universe, I strongly suspect they'll never get beyond the most basic levels of observation. Of course, when coupled with the abilities of a trained and talented interlocutor and the knowledge of human behavior gleaned from the last century of "social science", this will probably be more than enough to gain a general sense of "good/bad" for their intents and purposes.

And when any doubt remains, or the write functions are no longer operational, then they press the "execute" button.

slozo said...

The powers that be are doing everything in their power to ensure that any glimmer of new technology is carefully put under their supervision. If the new technology is very useful in controlling the population and thereby further ensures their place in power, then it will be taken wholesale, or even taken out of the public eye.

There is nothing in the reality of today that suggests the future holds a different paradigm.

Plus, I'm not keen on your device . . . but that's just my personal opinion on complete abdication of privacy. I think you would lose your sense of self. And obviously it would never be used as a tool of good, because it would never be in the control of good people. In fact, we'd never hear of it in all probability, it would be taken underground, as most instruments of overt control are already.

Nice story though.

psychegram said...

In a sense it's the ultimate surveillance technology, and if it becomes widespread then, well, the two logical endstates are a terrifying dystopic police state or global oneness. Ownership is a big part of the issue (just as it is with CCTV nets: the same cameras that watch us watch the cops, but only if people who aren't cops are allowed to use them.) Attitude is another, equally crucial aspect: privacy becomes much less important if one loses shame, but it's only possible to lose shame in an atmosphere of social acceptance.

And I don't care what anyone says, this was an excellent piece. I love science fiction (and have read Light of Other Days, in fact.)

nobody said...

This is cool. Good comments. I do get it that I was dreaming but I'm inclined to think that it's worth doing occasionally if for no other reason than to cast reality into stark relief. 'Here's what we could have', versus 'Here's what we'll get.'

Aside from all that, given that some variation of this machine will appear, and will do so under the auspices of motherfuckers, it's to be avoided, no mistake. Apart from dupes, anyone who encounters it will be doing so involuntarily. I figure if this happens, the same mindset is worth having, ie. there's no point fearing it. Motherfuckers are full of fear and they want us to be fearful too. Perhaps it makes them feel braver, kind of like how someone who's overweight feels better about themselves if they hang with the morbidly obese. Apart from not wishing to give them the satisfaction, fear, in and of itself, is completely worthless. But we all know that don't we?

kikz said...

hey noby, all...

great article.. great comments..

thought provoking!

Penny said...

well it was most certainly an interesting read.

It seems all agreed on that, but instead of sci-fi, I would call it a horror story.

Others having access to your thoughts?

Would that be after implanting them?

How would or could the machine differentiate between a murder witnessed on tv, and a murder witnessed real time.
I am not entirely certain the brain can do that.
If the brain can't the machine can't.

Just because people think about something, it doesn't mean it will ever come to fruition.
It may all be just a pleasant distraction? Or an angry thought as a release?

But the loss of privacy in one's own mind is enough to call it a horror.

kikz said...

and speakin of what's in people's heads...

interesting video 82 mins.. i found this am... :)
same kid who narrates zeitgeist.

kymatica. or cymatica. form follows resonance/vibration.


just c/p...
sorry i don't know tiny url.


Doug Plumb said...

I don't believe for a moment that they could ever build a machine that actually reads peoples minds. What they would do is build a machine, plug you into it and tell you what you are thinking- it would be pure fiction dictated by the needs of the private prisons and banker controlled courts.

What you actually think would be irrelevant.

The emerging scientific dictatorship has absolutely nothing to do with science. We know that from the existing popular scientific dogma: The buildings collapsed on 9/11 because of fuel fires; Mans carbon output is large enough to have a measureable affect on climate; The world is overpopulated; Oil comes from dead dinosoaurs. All this is nonsense and so is that machine.

People will get plugged into the machine, accept what the machines says and think "I didn't know that was what I was thinking", just like they believe in global warming - its what the experts say.

The experts become the gods and they create scientific dogma.

nobody said...

A late rush! I did get good comments on this one didn't I? Anyway, you're all wrong because you didn't agree with me, and you're all right because what the hell would I know? Frankly I reckon the cynics are closest to the mark. Hopefully, by the time 'whatever this thing will be' arrives, I'll be on some God-forsaken island growing papaya and bananas.

And Kikz, how quiet you've been. You all are well I hope?

(Did you like me slipping into your local Southern patois there? I blend in like a native, me)

Miraculix (Doug) said...

And a highly accurate follow-on point from another Doug (Plumb), nailing down both the religious nature of the "cult of science" that replaced religion as the belief system [i]du jour[/i] for all "rational" people in the wake of the "Enlightenment" AND the important management role played by their own elites atop various expert castes (or classes, if you will).

For example, what's the standard methodology for dealing with ideas outside the realms of "accepted opinion"? Why, excommunication, of course.

Followed by a righteously accurate suggestion that the [i]fait accompli[/i] nature of "intelligence" gathering will be applied here just as it is elsewhere.

Mr. Plumb, I offer a virtual nod of assent and respect in your general direction.