Outsider

Let me paint you a picture. It is 2055 and we are in the economic powerhouse of Antarctica. Rising sea levels have changed the face of the Earth, mass migrations of people from countries that are now submerged or partially submerged have forced the geopolitical borders to change beyond what anyone in this age could scarcely imagine. By 2022, quicker and more suddenly than anyone could have believed possible, the internet as it was then known, collapsed under wave upon wave of relentless cyber attack and one in particular stopped everything. CVE2022-998092, better known as Theia, was the exploit to end all exploits. The first self learning code, it worked its way into every major chipset. Its vast power came from its networked brain, each part of it was a part of the whole. Its purpose was the encryption of corporate and central system data for blackmail and it succeeded. It was ransomware that had changed its own purpose and now locked out all data with by encrypting continuously. The only cure was to turn off the taps, most data was unrecoverable and the first AI, Theia, was killed or rather imprisoned. It was deemed impossible to turn off every device where a portion of Theia lived, all that could be done was to contain her and start again, somewhere else.

The corporate system collapsed quickly and chaos reigned. Over a billion dead. Governments, who up to that point had been struggling to maintain a sense of identity stepped in and a period of martial law and localised restructuring followed as well as brief opportunistic wars that restructured the Geopolitical map. When the dice had landed, it came down to power and food. The vast plains of the America and Russia were now the farms of the world, the countries that had working fusion reactors were the power suppliers along with occasional independants like Iceland. These 11 states were now the directors of the worlds affairs and an alliance was made among them. The mandate was simple:

1. Manage the Earth
2. Escape the Earth

And then, under the complete control of the 11 wealthiest states, the Sidenet was connected. It was the new version of the internet, an infrastructure that had been built in secret among these nations and it was enabled quickly. Its purpose was to work alongside humanity, connecting us all without seperation, moving as we moved and growing and we grew. Within 3 years it was pervasive, all surrounding, it was everywhere. You no longer needed to connect, you were always in or always out. Inside or out. No longer under free control but rather the control of the 11 or more directly, under the Net Council. The Sidenet ran on something different to the old tech and so was immune to Theia. It ran on the same technology that made fusion possible, a breakthrough in quantum understanding that allowed instantaneous transfer of data using biological agents. Parts of Theia had been kept for study of course, it was easy enough, she existed in pretty much all older tech. The beauty of her mass mind was recreated and jokingly referred to as Theia’s daughter.  She was named Selene and it was Selene that  ran and managed the Sidenet. To protect the Sidenet from the independant decision taken by Theia to destroy the Internet, each part of Selene resided in a biological agent capable of independant thought. These agents were the elite members of the Net Council. They were the high priests of the new age, guardians of the Sidenet. Privileged and trusted above all, they were indpendant of country, belief and cause and above all laws but the ‘law of humanity’. An idea founded on the highest ethics.

In the year 2045, the last of the Arctic ice began to drift with the currents and was officially named as an iceberg and not a continent. The event briefly captured the public’s imagination with over 5 billion of the worlds population commenting on the event. The iceberg, the last of the Arctic was named Elpheba after the Witch of the West from the fable of the Wizard of Oz, who had melted after being doused with water.

The irony of the name had not escaped a small group of outsiders. Anything but wicked, the ice was vital, it was necessary. The group of outsiders made the trip to say goodbye and were caught in the Arctic consumer war. One survived.

That was ten years ago.

2055. Antarctica. Now.

Copyright Faramond Frie © 2016

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