The Time Diaries of Marco Francisco De Las Sapiens - June 6, 2053
Find out how it all turns out - The Cogs, Savants, Morphies and us old Sapiens
A few years ago, rummaging through the diaries of my future self, I stumbled across the first chapter of a book that apparently I would start to write. I thought, how could I have written such improbable drivel? Surely the delusions of my demented 105 year old self.
Then, just this year, artificial intelligence burst onto the scene. I discovered the potential of biomorphism; and yesterday, Apple introduced its Apple Vision spatial computer technology.
Maybe old Marco Francisco De Las Sapiens wasn’t so far off after all. So, I am offering this un-edited entry in his time diaries for those of you who might want to know how the future actually turned out.
June 6, 2023
Marco arrived at the loop station under LAX at 9:30 with two hours to spare before his flight to Budapest. Gliding to a stop at the station, Marco liked to recall the glory days of flying in his youth. “We were all so innocent then,” he mused, flipping his travel visor from private desktop to pubsee - transparent public mode with real-world viewing augmented by overlaid information.
Navigating the crowded corridors to the maelstrom of the terminal, for Marco, this adventure was starting like all good adventures should, with a city, a mission, and a woman.
Riding the escalator up to the departure lounge, Marco’s ears filled with the cacophony of conversations, announcements, and shopping music. He subvocalized the command to switch his iThink to private mode, canceling out all background noise and only admitting direct conversation or visual announcements related to his travel. He intoned “no ads” to shut off the ads he knew were coming as he passed through the duty-free shopping area.
Marco had used the door to door bag check service from Amazon, so he was only carrying his personal backpack, with some food to munch on and a big old-fashioned iPad. Although his iThink visor could display anything that he might want to look at, he never knew when it would be necessary to converse with fossils or throwbacks who hadn’t yet progressed beyond antique flat-screen smartphones held in their hand.
At the entrance to the departure lounge, Marco flashed an exaggerated grin to the security bot. Uncaring, the airport already knew who he was and where he was going. The gate swung open with a green light beep of recognition.
Once inside the lounge and with time to kill, Marco turned off privacy mode, making his visor transparent, and immersed himself in the noise and churn of the crowd. Leaning against a pillar, sipping a cup of fresh coffee and looking around, his iThink started identifying and highlighting faces it recognized in the crowd. Some were ringed in light yellow, possibly distant contacts from the mediaverse. A few names and profile pictures of people he knew appeared at the top of his visual field, with arrows pointing in their general direction. One was a neighbor of his; others were business contacts.
Marko focused on the highlighted image of his neighbor Paul and blinked twice, sending a greeting. Paul responded, bringing his face full screen as if standing in front of Marko.
“Hi Paul, where ‘ya headed?” Brief chit-chat ensued.
Marko intoned, “My gate,” and an arrow floated in front of him, pointing toward the gate. As Marko walked, following the arrow, he wondered if anyone he knew might be on his flight. He intoned, “Anyone on my flight?” “No one that I know of, other than the two you’re expecting,” Irma replied softly.
Moments later, a ding and Serguy’s image appeared on the right side of Marco’s visual field, highlighted in red with a flashing “Secspace Request,” Marko focused on the image and double-blinked, popping Serguy into the security of Marco’s private secspace.
“Greetings my friend,” said Serguy, adding with a crooked grin, “So you’re not dead after all.“
Marko laughed, “And so, I presume, neither are you,”
Irma was flashing little directional arrows at the top of Marco’s visual field, pointing him in Serguy’s direction. Marco rounded a corner, and they were 20 meters apart. For the briefest moment, they made visual contact. Then, to avoid any chance of being tracked as being together, they turned aside and resumed their greetings in secspace.
Marco was, by age and definition, a fossil at heart, one of the old sapiens, a Sap. He yearned for the time when conspirators, or just people doing private business, could meet openly, shake hands and look each other in the eye. Now, the ever more pervasive pubrec systems were recording everything that happened everywhere with the Cognitives automatically connecting the dots.
Marco looked around the airport. He guessed that about 80% of the travelers were using iThinks of one brand or another in all their fashionable forms and varieties. It always amazed him how fast the iThink revolution progressed and the changes it had brought in a few short years.
It seemed almost quaint that people might openly walk up to one another in public, speak using only sound waves, look each other in the eye, and make skin contact - unless you happened to be a throwback who rejected modern technology and apparently didn’t care about contracting one or another of the deadly “viruses” that were decimating their ranks.
The throwbacks clustered in groups, without travel visors but wearing coded name tags. Tour guide helper-bots circled around the groups like sheepdogs, checking their arrangements, running health checks and generally keeping the herds in check. It always seemed strange to Marko that folks who refused to use modern iThinks would pay extra to be told what to do by robots.
Serguey and Marko chatted idly and shared some vids as if they were sitting across from each other, even though they were meters apart and never looked at one another. Presently they both received a ding and Natalie’s avatar appeared in their view. With a glance and double-blink, she was added to their private channel.
Simultaneously, Marco and Serguey greeted her with a cheerful “Hi Nat!”
“So how are my two favorite fossils?” she replied with a toothy grin.
Marco had always loved Natalie, even if only theoretically. He glanced around the lounge and took in her lanky frame, today sporting a thick blond braid draped over a shiny black backpod. Loose white pants and her graceful stride gave no clue about her new metalomorphic leg.
What she had lost in flesh and blood was more than repaid in high energy kinetics, from launching her in any direction at high speed to clamping herself firmly to almost anything with her new prehensile “foot.”
Marko and Serguey exchanged appreciative smiles, delighted that she was their fixer on this mission.
Turning to locate Nat visually, their eyes met for an instant, sending the warm feelings of real human eye contact through his body. He thought she had smiled at him too, before turning away to avoid being connected by the ubiquitous eye trackers.
Marco was both fascinated and terrified by the fantasy of having sex with Nat, which he presumed wasn’t even remotely possible.
In her youth as a tall Dutch girl, Nat had been a star volleyball player. By luck and design, she had managed to avoid the diet, behavior, and medical mistakes that eliminated most of the Saps in our generation before they could benefit from the extension treatments.
Her body had responded well to radical life extension. Now at 70, she was ageless and showed no sign of slowing down any time soon. Her very success was the reason the three of them were meeting here on the way to B’pest today.
Tucked away safely in her metalomorphic leg were small vials of the substance that might possibly give all three of them another 40 years, or more, of non-aging life.
For Marko, doing well indeed at 105 thanks to the same treatments that were reversing Natalie’s aging, it would buy time for them to try and save the Homo sapien species from the rising threat of mass exterminations that were looming as the Savants and their courts of fawning, neurotic, brainiac Morphies took over control of life on planet earth.
Marco watched Nat in public visual space turn away and head toward a concession stand. In their private secspace conversation, she said, “Let’s get this show on the road. I booked you two on tourist profiles in first class. Let’s get out of here and get comfortable. I’ll go first. Marco, you follow in about 30, and then Serguey.” Marco was used to this standard procedure for traveling in groups without raising red flags about connected behavior. A bing and a text message confirmed that Nat had sent them their boarding passes.
The route to the boarding gate was indicated with arrows projecting along the path. Marco passed a group of twenty or so throwbacks, passively following their minder. The most obstinate of the throwbacks demanded a return to the “good old days.” But their future days were numbered if some of the Savants got their way.
The boarding gate, a simple unattended passthrough, opened immediately when Marco entered. He walked directly onto the plane. Nat was in the second row on the aisle. Without physically looking up, her secspace image smiled a greeting and said, “Hello Marco, nice to see you again.”
“You too Net, it’s been too long,” he replied. As he passed, her knee casually swung into the aisle, brushing Marco’s leg. His heart jumped and he flushed with a little rush.
As he sat down and stowed his backpack, Marko dreamed of a time when they could sit together, look each other in the eye, and chat without electronic intervention. Maybe even hold hands, or god forbid…
Even though she was 35 years younger than Marko, Natalie was one of the first to attempt the life extension treatment in 2028 when it became available underground. It soon hit the mainstream.
Natalie and Marco pioneered life-extension treatments when no one knew whether they would work. They had to wait and see what happened. At first, only a few thousand followed their lead. However, as time went on, their aging not only slowed but reversed. The early adopter numbers swelled to millions, and the stage was set for mass adoption.
In the brave new world of the instant-reality, pan-human OneMind, the last thing the Savants, or even the overextended natgov pyramid schemes, wanted was a bunch of Saps collecting social and health benefits for some indefinitely long time. So, they passed laws against the life extension treatments for all but the Morphies. Unless you could afford to join one of the Savant protectorates.
Driven by suicidal dietary fads, big Pharma, and corrupt governments, the rate of birth defects in babies born to adult Saps skyrocketed during the 2030s to over 50%.
With the power of the Cogs and biomorphic technology, it was discovered that biomorphics could possibly convert the common autism “defect” into exceptional intelligence.
Everyone who could afford it was having their babies biomorphically modified - the Morphies. The marketing was easy:
A) You have a 50% chance of having an ordinary child, and a 50% chance of having one that is severely defective and will need lifelong care.
B) You have a 50% chance of having an extraordinary child, or no child at all.
Best of all, you could choose DNA from anyone, and with artificial wombs, the problem of women having to carry children was solved. Humans were no longer limited to sexual reproduction by the physical exchange of DNA.
Only the poor fuckers, the throwback Saps, were left to fend for themselves, still having babies the old-fashioned way - by fucking.
Few of the sapien parents guessed that their Morphie babies were not only learning languages that they would be incapable of understanding but were being conditioned by the Cogs to join with the Savants in a campaign to eliminate the Saps and their kind from the planet.
Already among the oldest humans on the planet, Marco, Natalie, and Serguey knew what was in store and were sworn to prevent what almost everyone assumed was inevitable. Preservation of the original Homo sapien gene pool was no more certain than the survival of the dinosaurs after the great comet strike. But this comet was one of human making.
As Marco got settled and the doors were about to close, two Jacks appeared in the cabin. Probably human, clad in full body armor with smoked-out face shields. Their head-mounted sensor pods flashed red laser designators around the cabin. They moved quickly through first class to the crowded rear part of the plane, populated by throwbacks, low-level business people, and grants.
These days, with everyone moving around the planet and settling where they liked, the whole of mobile human society was lumped into the term “grants.”
Marco saw Natalie pull down her full-face visor and black it out. He did the same. She and Serguey appeared on his visor display in secspace.
“Sit tight and don’t make a move,” she said. “As if you would,” she added with a wink.
They were each plenty old enough to remember how the terrorism of the early 21st Century spawned the Jack Boots, now the standard method for controlling the fractious and unhappy citizens of corrupt and dying natgovs, even as they themselves were being replaced by the global Savant empires.
Marco knew the drill all too well and didn’t need to watch it again.
The Jacks selected two passengers, apparently at random: a young woman and a well dressed businessman. They were pulled from their seats, slapped into taser cuffs, and marched to the front of the plane.
As they passed, the businessman hesitated and turned to face the Jack following close behind. Instantly he collapsed to the floor, cuffed arms flailing in the air, jerking in agony. The Jack uttered a curse of some kind, reached around behind his back and produced a long handle with small wheels and a clamp at one end.
The victim’s ankles were clamped, and unceremoniously, he was pulled out of the cabin, face down, like some piece of quivering oversize luggage. Bots waiting at the front door grabbed the “terrorists” and whisked them away.
“Welcome to the in-flight entertainment,” Serguey quipped.
“One more point for our side,” Natalie replied. “Poor fuckers - jacked again.”
Marco detested how pointless terror theater was used to subjugate and control everyone who wasn’t under the protection of some Savant organization.
“Funny how fucking and poor have become synonymous these days,” Marco mused.
The Jacks departed, the airplane door closed and the engines of the ancient Airbus whined to life.
Marco declared, “Like you said Nat, let’s get this show on the road.” They all knew he didn’t just mean the flight.
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