Chapter 6

Mia was ecstatic when she got her hyperloop ticket to New York City to meet the heads of the system. The trip coincided with a blackout so she had to be ever vigilant and simply could not tell her family where she was going. She left Bridgeport at 9:05 am in the morning and pulled into Chelsea two minutes later.

It wasn’t so much the physical distance that had made this trip improbable but the distance in hierarchy, the security that would have to be cleared, and the odds against the system dealing with someone in the flesh.

Mia walked up to the over a hundred story building on Billionaire’s row with awe at what she thought she was about to be initiated into. The backend of the system, where decisions were made and the secrets of the curriculum kept. It was like visiting the head chancellor of the world’s universities, and her questions were voluminous.

She went into the building where Jim resided and sure enough her name was at the desk.

“No need to fiddle with the elevator buttons we will guide you upstairs,” said one of the 4 or 5 door men and associated personnel of the building.

Mia followed the long hallways and round a corner when she spotted a modern looking piece of art, and set of three elevators.

She got in the middle elevator and it whisked her straight up 86 floors at speeds approaching that of the hyperloop she was in that morning.

The elevator opened right into Jim’s apartment and waiting there to great Mia was Randi.

“We’re lucky you made it considering the blackout,” said Randi.

“I know my way around,” responded Mia.

“Anyhow, it is great you are here Mia. The board is impressed with your progress and decided to grant you your request. And there’s no where better to start than meeting our founder Jim Sheen.

I am Randi by the way. Second in the organization to Jim and acting COO.”

“But I though the system was totally distributed and there was no hierarchy,” said Mia.

“There’s still a lot for you to learn Mia, I know it seems that way, but because of the scope of the system we do have assigned roles to play, those of us in management. I know we were to do away with hierarchy, but there are high level architectural and other decisions that still need to be made that cannot be crowd-sourced.

Mia was already a bit disappointed to hear this. She thought with things like the blockchain technology and the voting and ratings boards that no one really headed the system. Well at least she was already getting her money’s worth so to speak, being privy to some of the inner workings of the system.

“I have to warn you Mia, Jim Sheen, our founder, no longer talks and functions autonomously of the system. He is part of it now and this has saved his life.”

Mia stood there silent.

“We will get to meet him though shortly.”

Randi led Mia into another spare room where she asked Mia to don special AR glasses.

Projected throughout the room was a map of the world colour coded by language, content type, and a myriad of other criteria.

“This is a very privileged view you are looking at Mia, it represents the whole system functioning in real time,” said Randi.

“But I could access this myself online,” responded Mia.

“No. What you are seeing when you do this at home is the system from your own point of view. This here, accessible only to the initiated, is the system from no one’s point of view, or from everyone’s if you like,” said Randi as she moved items in the AR in and out of view trying to give Mia a feel for the difference. “You can see the course curriculum from anyone in the system here, analyze cohorts of people, really do anything on the admin side you can possibly think of. But of course, because it is all part of the blockchain we cannot mess with anyone’s credentials, or even make a commit to a single class, that will not show up and become part of the system as a whole.”

Mia was taking all of this in. She had seen these global representations of the system before but noticed how this one was more intricate, with deeper levels of insight—a real god’s eye view to whatever had to be maintained and administered. She had already at this point know more about the system than most people, who knew nothing of its hierarchy, did not know Jim Sheen, and had never seen such a fleshed out augmented reality version of the system as a whole.

“Can I see my own progress in this,” asked Mia.

“Sure”, said Randi. Randi simply made a few eye movements looking at Mia and then navigating through a couple of 3D menu items. The room changed focus to display credits taken by Mia, her point levels, her trajectories through geographic space, all in a timeline view reaching back before the internet wars to shortly after the system had gone online. Indeed, Mia had been one of the system’s first million users.

Randi let Mia navigate around a bit her own statistics to get used to the interface and then said, “Want me to show you something cool?”

“Yes,” responded Mia.

“Here is the view of new classes being on-boarded, see how dozens become available every minute. Each of these can represent something like a 100 hour multi-language VR-enabled course, and hundreds are uploaded everyday.” She made some adjustments to the AR with a twist of her hand. “And this is when the blackouts occur. Notice the uptick in uploads.”

That’s when Mia really became initiated to what was going on.

The blackouts were good for the system. That was when it was really felt. She quickly realized that her life would now never be the same as Randi had told her some real insider knowledge. A bead of sweat poured down her forehead and Randi noticed.

“Listen Mia. This might not be what you bargained for when you accepted the invitation to come here but it is what it is. But don’t worry. From now on, you will be protected.”

Enough of this for now.” Randi made some more eye movements and the AR quickly shut off and they were in the same barren white room.

“Now time to meet Mr. Sheen. Be cognizant that he doesn’t speak anymore and cannot move unassisted but it is important you meet him Mia.”

Randi extended her arm and as she waved it the back panel of the room opened up and there was Jim Sheen.

He stood upright, fastened by a sort of metallic exoskeleton with his eyes wide open – he didn’t blink or gestures in any way.

But if you looked deeply enough in his eyes you can see he was ecstatic that standing there was his little girl Mia, unbeknownst to her. She would not find out about this until sometime during the second internet wars when she was already fighting alongside Randi, and Steve, and many other’s around the world.

“Mr. Sheen. This is Mia Rodriguez. She is in the level 40s of the system and has come on board to help us out on the new project.” Randi nudged Mia forward.

Mia stood there for a seeming eternity not knowing where to look. But when she looked into Jim’s eyes what she saw was familiar and it was curious to her to feel that way expecting much more of a commanding figure at the head of the system, instead of this, this shell of a man.

Just as quickly as Jim appeared he disappeared when Randi waved the back panel closed.

“He can only take so much stimulation,” said Randi.

The two walked out of the room and back down the hallway to the bank of three elevators.

“What project?” asked Mia.

“Well, that’s really what I want to talk to you about Mia. You realize I already told you a lot, about the blackouts, and can imagine the challenges we face. Well, when we accepted you up to see this place and meet Mr. Sheen, we were actually initiating you into the cause.”

“The cause?” gulped Mia.

“These blackouts will not last forever and when they stop there will be a clear network winner. We expect you will be on our side, the winning side, when this happens.”

Up until this point Mia hadn’t really thought about it. What if, what if the commercial internet shut down permanently. That was what Randi was really saying Mia reasoned. That would make the system so much more powerful she thought. It made sense to her, but she was trembling at the thought of all that was at stake.

“I have a proposition for you Mia. It is your choice to accept it or not. But if you don’t, we will have to cut off all privileges to the system and your family and yourself will be watched, at least for the near future by our private security teams to make sure you have no interaction with our business dealings.”

Some choice thought Mia. She was hoping now that what Randi was going to ask of her was going to be reasonable, something she could do. After all, she had gotten this far, hadn’t she?


Silenced Copyright © by Jonathan Wexler. All Rights Reserved.