Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Control Room

In 3069 the Milky Way became fully automated, at least in matters pertaining to sentient beings.  This was the year that the Thought Organizator was patented by Freud Herzberg.  Freud immediately sold the Thought Organizator, the most important patent of the 30th century, to Magnif Corp. for 12 Earthos.  12 Earthos was a hell of a lot of money in 3069.

The Thought Organizator was an entirely self sufficient machine about the size of Brazil.  I went on a tour of this miraculous device when I was a child with my Future Machinists of Earth troop.  During this tour I wandered off by myself, following a cluster of bright purple iridescent chips.

Each person, each living thing, has a chip.  We don't have them installed, the chips find us almost as soon as we're born, sent out in swarms periodically at random or on purpose from the thousands of chip bays extending from the steel walls of the Thought Organizator.  When a mother is giving birth, for instance, her chip signals that a new chip will likely be needed soon and so a brand new purple winged dot is marked and sailing through the cosmos for her infant before it breathes its first breath.  Sometimes the chip arrives  far in advance of the infant and the mother or father has to catch it and store it in a jar to keep it from trying to install through the mother's skin.  I had seen this happen once with my youngest brother.  The tiny purple dot shimmered in the upside down jar, tapping rhythmically against the side facing my heaving and screaming mother.  I was more interested in the chip than I was in the birth of my final sibling, despite all of the childbirth videos I'd been urged to view in order to prepare.  When my brother Kazar was born lifeless, his fat limbs purple and limp, the beautiful beetle shifted its flight pattern and began to tap against the jar on the side facing the Thought Organizator, away from my mother.

The chips return to their bays to record their findings and to ready themselves for a new mission when the body they are programmed to install in expires.  My father lifted the jar just far enough to crush the purple chip under its rim as it tried to squirm past.  You see, the chip's mission had reversed the moment the chips in my mother and father recognized that Kazar would not need one.

The robot doctor and nurses, all a part of the Thought Organizator along with the chips and everything else in this life, flicked their inquisitive lights towards the dead chip for a moment before returning to mopping sweat from my mothers brow.  I left the room silently, feeling a little guilty over Kazar but unsure why.

Understand, my father wasn't mad at the chip, it was reverence for the chip's intended purpose that he felt when he crushed it dead.  The robots take the dead, we have no ceremony, and ceremony helps.

The chips had saved my life a few times, as well as the lives of everyone I've ever known.  They work by reading every aspect of our moods, thoughts, and experiences and comparing them against all other chips in order to get the average of every possible situation.  If a person is being attacked their chip sends out a distress signal.  This signal is read by all nearby chips, including the attacker's chip, which immediately begins shutdown proceedings in order to stop the attack.  If a person succeeds in murdering someone despite this safeguard, they are instantly judged against every possible opinion via every bit of information from the victim and murderer's own minds.  If found guilty, the killer's chip will terminate.  Those are some of the more dramatic applications of these devices.  In reality, the chips mainly keep themselves busy figuring out what sort of music we're more likely to enjoy and what we prefer on our sandwiches.  Because of the chips, society moves in a completely organic and seemingly thoughtless but efficient majority rules fashion.  No need for government or law enforcement, most people avoid crime because they understand they will be instantly caught and judged by the matrix of humanity.  True democracy.

On the day of the Thought Organiztor tour, I had been separated from the Future Machinists of Earth by this cluster of tiny purple beetles buzzing through the air in perfect formation.  They moved in such a way, their tiny wings humming along, I had to follow.  I couldn't take my eyes away from them as they turned each corner in unison, a grid of unwavering points set in the air fluttering exactly one inch and a half apart from each other.  The chips were completely oblivious to the chubby girl in a white paper robe and booties trotting and sliding and panting behind.

If I had been panicked or upset, I would have set off the alarm in my own chip.  If my scout master had noticed my absence, a similar alarm would have been set off and they would have been led to me by signals from my chip.  That didn't happen.  Instead I eventually found myself in a room filled with a few dozen children my own age.

Each child was purple and damp like my distant view of Kazar had been, before the robot nurse bundled him away.  These children were thinner than my limp fat brother, though, and I didn't think they were dead.  They stood in no particular arrangement swaying slightly.  I shuddered.  Each of these creatures had a small port between his or her eyes, I noticed, and it was to these slim ports that the fluttery chips migrated.  The glass door I'd come through read "MOOR LORTNOC".

I turned and ran when several of them began walking towards me mouthing my name soundlessly, "Hulia Yossarian, Hulia Yossarian" tears streaming from their lavender eyes.

The Thought Organizator design that was developed by Freud Herzberg didn't have a room filled with walking children's corpses.

"The most amazing aspect of this machine", we were lectured by my scout master who had caught up with me as I ran past robot bay 902, "Is the CONTROL ROOM".  She went on to explain that the machine itself had realized, because some people had realized, that majority rule wasn't always a wonderful thing.  Sometimes, majority rule was a terrible thing, and therefor not the best idea for a master interplanetary guidance system.  In the infinite wisdom of the Thought Organizator machine, which was of course powered by the infinite wisdom of the majority, it was decided that a group of beings whose minds had not yet been corrupted by cognitive dissonance be kept as a control.  The majority is the safeguard against the tyranny of the individual, and the CONTROL ROOM is the safeguard against the tyranny of the majority.

I've been in the CONTROL ROOM of the Thought Organizator for 512 years.  I know everything that ever was and everything that ever will, I know everyone and everywhat.  There is no word for what I feel all of the time.

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