More about our favorite dystopian society! After we finish with this brief examination, we’ll get to the really spooky stuff – the corporations! Oh yeah, and Hastur and Cthulhu as well 😉
Barter and Reputation:
Liquid capital is a scarce and sometimes not altogether useful commodity. The expendable worker in a capitalist society doesn’t earn enough for the essentials of living, and while the trans-economy worker gets the essentials for free, many find that being alive and enjoying it requires more than this. Even someone living the post-scarcity dream will come across a problem or want that can’t be solved or fulfilled by something that can be forged in a Maker, such as access to a unique item or prohibited information.
Barter is the most common way for obtaining items that exist above one’s means, or even things not normally for sale. In a world where nearly everything is created from a template, beautifully made, handcrafted items are in high demand – especially if they are made from exotic (and/or illegal) materials. If one doesn’t have a valuable item or information to exchange, skills are also in demand.
A good reputation in one’s community or AG can also pay dividends. Being a well-known and valued member can get one access to things that would normally be unobtainable (there are several social media aps that track reputation scores across a variety of communities). Indeed, refusing to help someone with a high ranking is almost a guaranteed way to lower your score.
Of course, a high rep score to one person will be a negative one to another, depending on how they feel about that community or AG – walking into the wrong bar with a rep score in an opposing AG could lead to a confrontation that could easily escalate into violence.
Each AG and CU administrative region has its own social mores – some of these are backed up with legal sanctions, while others rely on social pressure. The CU claims to have a final say on all legal matters everywhere humanity exists, but this isn’t how it always works in practice since many AGs don’t recognize the CU’s authority.
The CU maintains a network of drones that have access to a dynamic gestalt AI. These drones are empowered to investigate crimes, pass sentence and take any legal action called for. Equipped with a Maker and unlimited access to templates, they can create whatever tool or weapon that would be most appropriate for a given investigation or tactical situation. They have access to the location of every CU issued biomorph, whose digital memories can be accessed without cause or warrant. Non-standardized morphs are hacked to get any information not given up willingly – not giving up information when requested can lead to legal sanction (any damage caused to the CU’s agents by defensive software during the hack is the responsibility of witness).
Penalties can include confiscation of higher end morphs, with the intelligence in possession of the morph regulated to a more baseline model or sentenced to temporary or permanent non-corporeality if their continued physical existence is considered a threat to society. Any penalty will also include a slight adjustment of the digitized consciousness to rid the morph of the undesirable behavior, along with continued monitoring to ensure that it doesn’t resurface. Digital identities that can’t be repaired are permanently uploaded and placed into secure storage where they can be further studied.
The Law constitutes humanity’s only socialized law enforcement. Capitalistic societies tend to sub-contract it out to professional organizations, while each individual in a post-scarcity AG handles their own.
The Law and MJ-12:
MJ-12 is an extra-legal CU organization that specializes in handling any threat that lies outside the jurisdiction/comprehension of The Law. When certain conditions are met The Law summons MJ-12 to handle the crisis, turning a blind eye to the means as long as the desired ends are achieved (the desired ends being determined by MJ-12). MJ-12’s involvement in these cases also protects The Law from being tainted by threats of an extra-dimensional nature. Human or AI MJ-12 agents that are psychologically or informationally compromised can be eliminated and restored from their last back-up – The Law is far too dynamic and complex to withstand this sort of procedure and remain viable.
The Global Information Network (GIN)
This massive database provides each individual suitably equipped with instant access to all forms of past and current media – in the latter case, often within moments of its creation. Access to the network is free to all citizens of the CU who possess an approved morph.
Each morph comes equipped with a GINsert to access the wireless data network and a familiar to process it. Familiars are necessary since even an enhanced intelligence would be overwhelmed by the influx of data – one of a familiar’s main tasks is to determine what information is relevant and then incorporate it into their owner’s consciousness, or make them aware of its existence and catalog it so it can be experienced at a later time.
Once a familiar has worked with an individual long enough, they begin to anticipate their cognitive needs, performing background processing even during real time conversation, incorporating the best words, phrasing, facts and quotes to enhance whatever is being said. With a functioning GINsert and familiar, even a normally dull person can make their everyday communication sparkle with wit. Conversely, someone without one sounds slow and plodding in comparison.
A person’s GINsert and familiar are installed at the same time, usually at age two. This way the artificial intelligence that will become that person’s life-long companion will be with them as they develop and get to know them intimately – and given their objectivity, usually better than the person knows themselves. Given access to their owner’s accounts, maker and household computer, a familiar will eventually develop from a teacher, companion and confidant to a shopping assistant, valet, advisor, cook and housekeeper.
Loss of one’s familiar is one of the most psychologically traumatic events a person can go through – even modification of a person’s familiar without their consent is considered a form of physical assault. The more affluent keep at least one copy on standby, updating it and the recording of their consciousness at the same time.