Fighting for freedom [Short story]
Five years had passed since the Permanent Network Surveillance Law had been voted for; five years in which gradually, about 60% of the users of the internet had abandoned it. First it had come off as a protest – a protest against great corporations trying to amplify their control over mankind. A protest beyond that of simply marching on the street, holding signs asking for justice; a protest of boycotting, of crashing sites of said grand corporations and of refusing their services entirely. But ultimately a protest.
However, slowly but surely, after about two-three years, things had begun changing. Internet was no longer refused because it was invading basic human privacy; internet was refused purely since it had become inferior. A new type of technology was swiping the world; that of Brain Viewing.
And before I go on, let me say this: I’m Jasper, 21, and I’m the sole survivor of the Freedom for Brains Organization – an organization which wants to ensure that Brain Viewing – and your brain itself – won’t suffer the same fate as the internet.
It’s a sad little truth – but while I had had internet connection only from 8 till 16 years old – essentially not living through its birth and rise, but only through its fall – I have indeed had Brain Viewing experiences since their very beginning. I vividly remember when the floppy brain came out – it was small, rudimentary and had very little memory capacity; and very soon, it was replaced by the compact brain, and that by the direct video brain, and that itself by the blu-brain and all sorts of brain cards, brain flashes and other devices.
But what IS Brain Viewing, one may ask? Well, the developers of the new technology have a hard time explaining it themselves. BV is, essentially, seeing something from someone else’s point of view, while still retaining your very own conscience and ability to think for yourself. BV shouldn’t be confused with mind reading or virtual reality; it is much more than that. You are basically inside another human being’s lifelong thoughts; if they think, say, “Oh, that song is pretty”, you don’t just see it as being acoustically pleasant. You relate it to that other person’s whole life experience, history, surrounding environment, genetics and other biased factors; therefore you as a second person understand from an objective angle the prettiness of the song.
In other words: it’s like being an author, visiting your character’s head, feeling what they feel and then filtering their feelings from your own rational standpoint.
That is why Brain Viewing is so popular. Who wouldn’t want a shortcut to someone else’s deepest, most hidden desires of the heart? Who wouldn’t want to experience a story beyond the basic sensuous aspects conveyed in a movie or book – those of sight, hearing and imagination? With BV it is all REAL; there are no more actors and roles, only real life scenarios. You can decide whether you want to live as your hero or your villain; you can understand how the smell of roses is perceived by your loved one; you can feel all faces of a diamond even though you’ve never touched one. You can jump through an infinite number of universes.
Unfortunatelly, there are two main problems with Brain Viewing. One is that everybody can be an actor, a star, a VIP – if their published brain life is interesting enough. There are certain people that live more than half of their lives inside their heads – and lately, all these people have suddenly become famous, overlapping the success of the previous stars. And grand companies hate that. They hate the fact that simple, independent individuals have become heroes and that famous actors are completely denied their fame. They hate having their agenda overthrown. Yet they do nothing positive about it. Instead of them changing the platform their products are released on – making them brain compatible – they prefer destroying the new means of communication entirely. Their main strategy is to misinform the public, to discredit BV by making citizens believe that people will soon start living entirely inside their heads – and that real life shall soon be forgotten – which will lead to anarchy and ultimately maybe to the destruction of the entire universe.
The second problem is that ideas are much faster spread through Brain Viewing. Suddenly, awaken individuals could awake the others as well. Suddenly, someone could have a speech – and have their real intention, the intention beyond their words, entirely conveyed – by letting the public enter their very own head. And imagine this – intelligent people could actually spread part of their intelligence to less intelligent ones! That means that suddenly, the 99% could be powerful enough to fight the 1%.
Of course all of this is utopic, an entire bogus. And that’s because you can only have Brain Viewing experiences if the person owning the brain allows you to visit it – or if they’re dead. That means that nobody can enter a politician’s head, for example. And then intelligent individuals are intelligent enough to keep their intelligence to themselves. But already, special corps have been established – a sort of contemporary orwellian Thought Police. Officers are called Illegal Ideas Inspectors – and their job is to ensure that only your very own thoughts reside inside your head.
And there’s only one way to do that.
That’s right – what is the simplest way to see if something extra is in a drawer? Why, pulling the drawer out, of course, and checking its contents. Those contents may very well be private, but what do you care? Amongst them might be what you’re searching for. But you must first check everything out – check it thoroughly, check it many times, if it’s needed, and maybe – just maybe – in the process of doing so, you might stumble upon something that you don’t like – something that is against your principles – and decide to throw it out.
And that’s where Illegal Ideas Inspectors come in.
Under the pretense of checking whether you have been ‘infested’ with the BV virus, they stop you on the street, ask you to come with them – and if you’re against that, it’s ok, they can always tie you and load you in a truck and take you away against your will – and then they delight themselves into analyzing your very own mind. Like what they see – they make you one of them. Don’t like it – they ‘repair’ you, extract what they don’t agree with and then release you into the wild – poor lost soul, not knowing the true meaning of freedom. It’s as simple as that.
Only yesterday was I stopped on the street and asked to ‘have a regular check-up, just something for sheer public safety’ – and had to go to the III headquarters. But you see, I had anticipated this; and so, I had managed to extract the memories of an old, ‘fixed’ citizen and make them my very own surface memories. And it was so that I managed to deceive the Inspectors into thinking that I’m harmless and stupid; and it was so that I managed to hear the following conversation, between two, lethal looking Inspectors:
“Chief called. Said he wanted to say congrats.”
“Oh, that so? Big old dog should indeed be pleased; we’ve been working our butts off lately, catching all those idiots outside and making them as smart as a chicken.”
“Yeah, apparently less that 5% of the townsmen have yet to face the inspection.”
“Well I’ll be damned, hope tomorrow they won’t keep us late, there’s somewhere I have to go to –”
But I never learned where the inspector was supposed to go to, because sooner than I expected, I was kicked out and tagged on my ear, like a stray dog.
Horror has been following me since then. 5%. Less than 5%. 95% of the people here are lifeless. The others might – or might not – be against the new established system. But I am alone. I know that I am alone.
Two days ago, they broke into our organization network. I have no idea how they found us. Someone inside must have been a traitor.
They didn’t even have to catch my fellow comrades and take them to the Idea Selector, though; they only had to discover the password to their brains and break their synapses with electroshock. And that was all. I myself escaped only through the sheer luck of not being connected with my brain to the network at that time.
But I know I won’t be that lucky a second time. Actually, there won’t be a second time at all. Because I’ve decided, here and now, that I’ll wake the entire population of the city or die trying that.
Already my memories, my lifelong experiences, the essence of what I am, every living minute of my life – from the time I became conscious to the very present tense –, everything I’ve seen, heard, touched, smelled, tasted, thought, presumed, felt, hoped and longed for, everything that has been part of me and part of my personal universe – absolutely everything – will be projected into the heads of everybody else. And what’s more – it shall all happen at once, and happen very fast, and remain there – with no possible way of getting out. Because, as ridiculous as it may seem, I plan to leave my brain to the next generations. I plan to teach them the meaning of life. I plan to teach them the meaning of freedom.
Very well then. It is 10 o’clock in the evening. At midnight, I shall set the project our organization has been working on straight up running. I shall revive the freedom of thought. I shall revive The Internet – The old Internet. The one where you could say what was on your mind – without actually sharing your mind itself. The one where you could look up silly gags and kitten videos and unrestricted pieces of information. The one where you could be yourself.
And alas, it that works, fighting for freedom will be a piece of cake.
Brain Viewing was never meant to be. It’s unnatural to share the core of your soul directly. But the required technology will survive; and my brain shall be there to be experienced, on every page of the internet, on every site, on every torrent, so users shall know what the world has been through. I know I myself shall die by doing so – because unlike casually sharing fragments of your life, you can only extract the complete essence of a human being on the dying bed – but it shall be worth it.
So long; may freedom always reside in your brain.
Concurs DeviantArt, runda a doua, februarie 2012. Runda 1
Brain Viewing e o idee pe care am tot încercat să o scriu şi rescriu şi niciodată nu am reuşit să o aduc la forma dorită.
Chestia cu supravegherea internetului era o idee de dinainte de a citi Cory Doctorow şi înainte să se propună o lege asemănătoare (respinsă ulterior) la noi în ţară.
Imaginea se găseşte pe http://www.care2.com/news/member/140535861/708791