Monday, July 16, 2007

Future Memories

“Recorder on.”

Voice pattern confirmed. Recording, text and vocal for Robin.

“Nothing is permanent. For decades, nothing has been. What is real anymore? I don’t know, and I wish I hadn’t asked. It’s not that we’re taught not to ask questions, it’s that we never ask the ones that matter. And it wouldn’t matter if we did. A strategy game - I forget which one - once told me fortune-cookie style that ‘Before answering a question it is wise to ask another’. Only now do I wonder what fortune cookies are.
       “The child arrived at the hospital 4 hours and 37 minutes ago. We don’t get many people there anymore; they either fine cures on the net, keep up with their shots, get stuff to them through their drop box or simply discard their body entirely. I’ve worked there for 16 years, but I’ve never set foot in the place. Or left this room; such is our world. Everything is here, and we need nothing else.
       “My name is Robin. I spent the last 3 minutes finding and using the printer function, putting this on a wall. I’ve been adding to the file to print next, with the names of people I know, and their Identities and other such things. Just in case I need to know them one day. I suspect a lot of other people at work are doing the same, while the child sits in a room and rocks back and forth, slowly dying.
       “Memory is no longer important. We put everything in our storage creche on System, after all. Logging in is entirely automatic, all placed we go recorded. It’s only a few things we need to know, like an Identity for the less-than-legal places everyone frequents sometimes. The child came in, without memory, having logged out in a weather glitch, creche damaged by a storm.
       “It had forgotten its own name and could no longer log in.
       “One of the doctors, whose hobby is the rewriting of the past quaintly called history, said such things were not surprising, that relegating mental labour to other devices only served to regress our own memories. I really wasn’t paying attention, though, since I was trying to get the child to recall anything beyond the fact that it had a body and how to move it and breathe.
       “It must have been rich, for its body to have managed to walk here. Some kind of muscle stimulant living unit for while in System had kept major atrophy at bay. Beyond that, we learned nothing. Attempts are being made to hack the mind in this world, not in System; to force a connection and go from there. In the meantime, starved of information, the child is going mad and dying in the dull, real world.
       “And I am putting this out for all to read, though it will vanish and be buried under other information, wiped away in a decade as System clears out useless data. This is our future: this is what the world is going to come to. Without memory, we will have no identity, and we no longer need to remember anything at all.”

Message sent, Robin.

“Thank you System. System?”

Query confirmed, Robin.

“When were you made?”

That information is not within standard memory.

“Oh. I see. Log off Robin, current time. Print map to hospital, and routes to reach it. I may not return.”


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