2084

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“At first, some States, such as China, rejected this Western intrusion and tried to ban Oodles completely. But the demands of “the People”, underground movements, and the like, soon forced them to provide their own rival system called “Yiqiè”. At least this could be controlled by the State and was very popular. The Chinese leaders saw a version of China eventually populating the Universe, and were very proud of their achievements, even though they were based on Western technology, enhanced by their own creativity and hard work.

“However, some people in the “Co-operatives” were still dissatisfied. They wanted the style, the action, the creativity, the sex, the “freedom” of the West. Likewise, the West needed the ingenuity, single-mindedness, and productivity of the East to bring their dreams to fruition. A “Great Amalgamation” took place, which eventually encompassed the whole world, except in the troubled Islamic lands that rejected any form of Westernisation. Their fragmented religion had still not come to terms with itself.

“There is now very little overt crime; as everyone can see everyone’s motivations and desires, they would be instantly found out anyway. A few independent private data-banks were set up, called “Poodles”, but these soon floundered due to the need to link up with the official knowledge banks and the experiences of other real people.
“There’s no need for police generally, although cyber-crime is always on the increase (ha-ha!), and there are specialist squads, the Enforcers, dealing with us, the so-called “Recidivists” and “Rebels” who have totally rejected the whole scheme and have either had our implants illegally removed or burnt out, or have been born of parents who somehow prevented the terminals being implanted in their child’s brain at birth.

“There is, however, a strange rise in creativity. New experiences and spectacular sensations are demanded daily. There are armies of writers, sculptors, painters, film and programme makers. “Reality” engineers are ready and willing to fill the minds of the masses at large, and sell them their products. Anyone can get involved. They don’t need special equipment, space, props, or studios. It can all be done “on-line”, using the myriad of free, cheap, or relatively inexpensive “professional” tools available directly in their minds.

“People log their own thoughts and experiences on-line on a daily basis. They submit items to “Nu-Tube”, “Witter”, “Place-Book” and “My-Face” at an ever increasingly frenetic pace. They watch avidly to see if their thoughts are sensed, picked up, responded to, admired, or rejected as simply puerile. They are in constant contact with their “friends” and loved ones, passing messages in an instant, provided they are limited to 140 seconds, which is all most people can aspire to, or think of, in one coherent stream.

“The more erudite contribute to “Wakki-World”, where knowledge is forced to conform to some democratic form of truth, though it seems to be constantly changing in some areas. Items can go “viral” in seconds, millions of people picking up on a particular thought, rumour, popular myth, or salacious tit-bit.”
“Some people, like the Crystal-Heads, sit on shelves in unlit, cavernous buildings; or underground, in caves. All their experiences are virtual or real dramas fed to their minds from computer simulations or transmitted on-line from active Substitutes. Others are sensualists; they like their bodies, and have electronic stimulation. They can feel their own bodies performing feats of incredible athleticism and daring. They can even move in their gel-Pods, keeping their limbs active and their bodies fit. But they don’t actually go anywhere!

“Other people are more active and mobile, travelling on scarce infra-structure to distant places, recording their infrequent real activities for a few years, to be played back to themselves, over and over, until they die. The really lucky ones are the adventurers, recording live experiences for the immobile Crystal-Heads and Ordinaries; they are the so-called Substitutes.

“There are different kinds of Substitute, for different situations, such as: Jacqueline, a Sexi-Tute, providing sexual experiences and gratification; David Spicetti, a Sporti-Sub who indulges in physical games and contests for his lazy followers; Don McBurn, a Reporti-Sub for on-the-spot commentary around the world; Randolph Whines, an Explora-Sub going on daring adventures to the more extreme locations – and, boy, are they getting extreme! Another popular favourite is Indigo Brown, the Archaeologi-Sub, who combines history with danger and sexual derring-do to maximum effect. There are also Botani-Subs; Zooligi-Subs; Danger-Subs; Combat-Subs; and even Victim-Subs, for those wishing to feel empathy for others and salve their consciences. And if you have really given up on everything you can even donate your whole life and destiny to those arch-angels of death, the Desti-Tutes.

“Some experiences, of course, are completely artificial, electronic, virtual simulations, enabling people to go places it is impossible to reach; dreaming of situations that are impossible to recreate or manufacture; performing deeds that are beyond human capability, endurance, or even imagination. All of these Sims can be felt, participated in, even controlled to some extent, by the minds locked into them through the terminals in their heads, with everyone linked to the great Oodles Corporation.

“But some of us reject the whole ethos, and are trying to reclaim reality. We are the Recidivists and Rebels.”

(PKD’s Blog #2)

The Ordinaries

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It was lunch-time. Jane sat in a coffee-shop in the High Street, lost in a daydream, “wittering” to all her friends about her recent activities, mainly purchases, and listening to theirs.

“I just bought the most gorgeous pair of shoes!” wittered her friend, Cary. “I could have got them cheaper on-line, but they just sort of sprang out at me as I was passing a shop. They were exactly what I was thinking of!”

“Mmm. Great! Send me a view! Are you wearing them now?” asked Jane.

“Oh, I saw those!” wittered in Mary, who had been listening to their conversation on-line, and admired Cary’s legs as she sent the view of her shoes.

“Don’t miss Fabenham’s half-price shoe sale,” interposed a cheery female voice. “Bargains galore for the month of May!”

“Are you still seeing Dave? You know that guy that you met on Place-Book the other day?” asked Mary of Jane, ignoring the interruption, though it was difficult to know who was wittering whom.

“Oh no! I found out he had sent me a view that was twenty years out of date, the old perv!” exclaimed Jane.

“Send him that one of you naked on the beach, and then tell him to fuck off!” suggested Cary.

“Excuse me ladies!” interrupted a suave-sounding male voice. “Could I interest anyone in a beach holiday in Llandridnod Wells?”

Jane pushed the reject button in her head. She hadn’t realised the sea had got that far. Anyway, who wanted to go to Wales; it was full of Welshmen, living up in the hills like ancients!

She turned her attention instead to her Pottery Class on the Web. She didn’t actually make anything with her hands, but it was fun to mind-control another person doing it and watch as the clay spattered around the room!

On her way back to the Sensory Centre, where she worked supervising the activities of some sensualists in the public gel-Pods, she passed a number of shops and stores. They all seemed to know who she was and greeted her by name, suggesting various commodities, clothes, gadgets, holidays and experiences that she was interested in, or had bought before.

She thought this was very convenient on the whole, as she found things she would never have thought of herself, or had forgotten about. She didn’t feel it was intrusive; on the contrary, it was keeping her safe, informed, and part of the “real” world.
And so the general population carried on with their lives, as normal, subject to the vagaries of the climate, but almost totally controlled by Oodles. They were quite relaxed about it, as it gave them everything they needed. All their desires and wants were in fact controlled by Oodles’ subliminal advertising, and Oodles would then supply their every need, raking in the proceeds.

People were in constant contact with each other, but the content was usually trivia. They experienced all sorts of Substitutes and Virtual Environments, playing games, etc., but it was all pointless indulgence. Of course, the Oodles Corporation made huge profits, which The Founder creamed off and ploughed back into his research for the “Save-Our-Souls” mission, the new nano-chips, DNA engineering, and other weird experiments.

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Oodles

Since writing this, “Oodles” have anounced that they have been taken over by themselves under the new brand name “AtoZee”.  This is mainly to redirect funding to their more obscure projects, such as Space Travel, Time Machines, Age Control, Mind Engineering Nanobots, and Total Culture Recall, removing them from public gaze until they are fully developed.  Their core activities of Merchandising Placement, Information Redirection, Sensory Displacement and Substitution will continue unabated.

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“The Oodles Corporation own and control all of the information and data about the whole Human Race – well, most of it, anyway. Its slogan “Save Our Souls” rather gives the game away as to the purpose and motivations of “The Founder”, apart that is from making oodles of money.

“Information on everybody and everything is kept in massive data banks known as “Clouds”. It has been found that the only way to digitally store such large amounts of data is in the form of modified DNA, where the AT and CG pairs represent 0 and 1, whichever way round the pairs are. The controlling impulses are fed at light speed through magnetically controlled light channels. The DNA can be copied and replicated in the normal zipper fashion, but also transmitted as electro-magnetic pulses to anywhere on Earth, the Solar System, the Galaxy, or indeed, to the whole Universe. The only limitation is time, as the speed of the radio waves is fixed.

“It was also discovered some time ago that there is an incredible amount of redundancy in nature. Each living cell contains hundreds of copies of its DNA, and each body contains millions, if not billions of cells. The whole set of data for a single individual, including his or her experiences, memories, actions, thoughts and desires, can easily be stored in a few cells. Three copies are kept. If at any time the controlling computers constantly monitoring their charges find that one of the copies is different from the other two identical copies, a fourth copy is made and the rogue destroyed, thus preserving consistency and continuity.

“Because of the massive redundancy, and the limited necessity for copies, it has been statistically proven that the data for the whole of the Human Race and its experiences, past, present and future, can be stored in the testicles of a Friesian bull. Which is what Oodles have done! Not literally of course, but huge rows of test-tubes full of the milky-white seminal fluid are now stored in the “Clouds” dotted around the world. For safety’s sake there are multiple copies of these banks, each identical, at different “safe” locations, in case of natural disaster, man-made disaster, felony, terrorism (yes, it still exists!), or invasion by Aliens from Outer Space.

“Not only are copies of everyone’s DNA kept, but also all their thoughts, knowledge, artefacts, paintings, drawings, writings, ideas, experiences, and fantasies. The data is not restricted to the human species. All living creatures, plants and animals are represented, along with whatever thoughts and memories they have; and the blue-prints for all types of elements, compounds, materials and artefacts are routinely stored.

“Such artefacts, spare parts, and even living organisms, can be reconstituted in “3D Solid Chroma-colour” with the CAD/CAM machines known as “Ovarians”. Oodles’ ultimate aim, when life on this planet becomes unbearable, even impossible, through living-space constraints, climate change, resource depletion, and pollution, is to shoot the banks of seminal fluid and Ovarians into space to colonise the whole Galaxy, and eventually the Universe beyond, with such copies – but actual living, breathing beings – suffused with the minds of people who have once actually existed, until they died, on Earth. It is a kind of Eternal Salvation, with Heaven being ordered and controlled just as the humans want it to be, or at least, as The Founder wants it to be. Most people know and approve of the plan, as everyone is linked via their terminals to the data banks; even The Founder himself, who needs access to the totality of human thought and invention to carry out his Creation.

“There is a slight snag though. At present, a real living entity is needed to contain the thoughts, perform the actions, and create new ideas, inventions, art, music and literature that are the essence of humanity. The real-world manifestations of sentient beings range from those horrible crystallised rock-heads on their atrophied, mummified bodies sitting in caves, to magnificent, lithe, athletic beings who can run and jump, have adventures, and indulge in climactical sex with regular and recorded frequency.

“There is no real need for memory as everything is stored in the Clouds and is instantly re-playable at the press of a thought. It is a legal requirement that terminals are implanted in everyone’s brain at birth. There is no need to remember facts, or know how to do maths, or write, draw and paint physically. It’s all done directly from the mind, via the Web. There are no schools, no education system; everything is known and is instantly available. Also, there’s no religion. All types of belief have been subsumed in the reality of universal knowledge, incontrovertible fact, and the common goal of “Saving Our Souls” and populating the whole Universe. There are no politicians, press barons, or bankers – except for the Oodles Corporation itself; they were all redundant years ago, their motives too easily found out.

“Life-styles and virtual activities are chosen for people according to their stored profile, suggested subliminally, and presented as side suggestions to whatever they are doing, or wherever they are. There is no need to move, and some don’t! Everyone knows about everyone else, who they are, what they have done, what they are thinking, and what they are about to do, through the cybernetic neural network of the Internet, Social Media, and instant communications.”

(PKD’s Blog #1)

AIbank

The Crystal-Heads

Climate Change is back on the agenda, though nothing much seems to have changed, apart from millions more tons of CO2 dumped in the atmosphere, environmental disasters becoming more frequent and in unexpected places, and vested interests shouting their denials ever louder, so I thought it was time to re-run “Oodles”.  Many thanks to previous followers and those who took the opportunity to get the free Kindle version (now available for £1.99, or $3.11), so I hope they won’t mind a recap, and I look forward to comments from them and new readers.

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Sitting in the dark, on a shelf in their cave, Mr and Mrs Smith sighed contentedly. Their faces glowed as they smiled at each other, pleased to be experiencing the same sensual dream together.

They didn’t know it was dark; or that they were in a cave; or sitting, frozen and immobile, on a shelf. They hadn’t actually done anything with their bodies for some twenty years, not even sex. It was all substituted for them and transmitted to the terminals sunk deep within their medulla oblongata. They saw and heard and felt, of course; every experience you could imagine was available at the flick of a thought. Their atrophied limbs had no need to move; they still felt that they were moving, sensing heat and cold, every touch and lick, every smell and taste, all transmitted direct to their brains.

“Shall we watch the News, dear?” asked Mr Smith.

“OK. But there’s a documentary about the old animals that used to roam Africa, that I want to watch later,” Mrs Smith replied. “You know, the one with that old fuddy-duddy who seems to get up so close.”

“Sure. He’s very good! But what about some adventures with Jacqueline after?” he suggested.

“Adventures!” she giggled. “You’re just an old reprobate! But I like them too!”
They settled down, their rigid, crystallised heads glowing with satisfaction and anticipation. Their flickering faces pulsed gently in the dark, slight changes of expression registering on their stiff features at some funny line, thrilling experience, profound thought, or emotional memory.

After a few minutes of rather depressing world news – more floods in China, landslides in Peru, burning jungle in the Amazonian Basin – they flicked to more local news. The Royal Family were still prospering, attending irrelevant events, dressed in their finery, with all the pomp and circumstance the people so enjoyed. Kate’s grand-daughter, a lovely virginal-looking girl, was training to be an air-hostess – not that there were many planes these days; it was a privileged position with “The Founder”! There was still soreness about The Great Abdication, but somehow the lesser Royals had rallied round to keep the firm intact.

There were a few items about some celebrities who had either won awards, disgraced themselves, or died, and then disgraced themselves again. There was no political news, of course, like in the old days. Politics was just not necessary anymore. All decisions were taken instantly, democratically, or so the people thought, by the constant referendums buzzing through their heads, and implemented with cool efficiency by the Oodles Corporation.

There was a strange item about some disturbances down in London, that deserted city that most people had forgotten about. Mr and Mrs Smith switched over, bored out of their minds, and turned to more spectacular and stimulating channels and programs.

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“Oodles” was written just before “Where Are We Now” came out, but David Bowie’s song and video seem to fit the mood of this chapter perfectly!