(a daily comic strip without pictures, complete to date)
"When hacker geeks hook up with anti-globalizational black bloc-ers, that will be something to see. Real world DIY street smarts, groups with institutional knowledge and experience of government surveillance and infiltration going back decades, combined with mad hacker skills and hard crypto... That really will be something. And I think we are pretty much there." (from Google+)
In a small, bare room, with folding chairs, projector and screen, the middle-aged professor waits for the young audience to quiet down. He lights the first projection, an out of focus photograph of a man and woman on mountain heights, leaning back against and their arms stretched out along a railing, their hands just meeting. It is a famous image and the audience laughs.
"The revolution began just how it should, with a professor. Now a professor; then he was unknown. Not for the first time humanity had made a huge mistake.
Our leaders believed social life had no meaning. Society was only a machine. Individual life was important, and individuals were successful when they were the top at making and using the machine of society.
Unregulated markets, corporate bribery were promoted as efficient. And efficiency was everything, because social life was only a machine.
The people who knew the machine and managed it deserved to profit from it. Users of a tool deserve to own the product it made.
Others, who didn't understand and couldn't manage the tool, deserved to fail so they could learn from their mistakes.
Our leaders universally accepted this religion, let's call it. Was it because of the development of democracy, or the counter-culture movement of the 60s? We don't know why.
Hackers used technology to break the social machine, but that was not the solution.
This man, you all know him, came up with the answer. In retrospect it's obvious: don't break the machine but use all the tools of the machine, economic, technological, communication, against it. For him it was only science fiction. But people from here, the right people, people who could implement his ideas, found him, and brought him back to the U.S.
How did they find him? The Internet, what else.
It began right here, in these rooms...."
II. Bayshare Goes To Court
Athens Airport, General Strike, flights cancelled.
Weston scans the crowd at the airport boarding area, sees Miller sitting on the floor, back against the wall, reading on laptop. They get into a waiting taxi and are taken to another part of the airport where a helicopter waits.
- Where did this come from?
- Long story.
- I've time. Been stuck here for 8 hours.
- We're good customers.
- You buy helicopters?
- You'll see.
Transfer to private jet. On board, after take-off. Miller looks astonished by the luxury.
- You buy jets?
- Your investors do. It's for sale if you're interested. Get some rest. We'll arrive in San Francisco tomorrow morning.
San Francisco Airport. Miller and Weston get into taxi.
- Where now?
Federal Building. Hearing room.
- Where are the Chinese?
- In China, Mr. Miller. You are here to testify on Bayshare.com.
- I've been away. I was told the legal system had been outsourced to China.
- Mr. Miller, this hearing is preliminary to looking into the question whether Bayshare.com is an enterprise governed by securities regulation. You devised the scheme. Could you briefly explain it to us here?
- It is a network that allows many people to share ownership in things owned by individuals just before they are sold.
- As an investment?
- Yes. And as a way for many people to participate in an individual's life and for an individual to participate in many people's lives.
- Was that your purpose in devising the scheme?
- I wanted to see what the world would look life if large numbers of people temporarily shared ownership in each of their things.
- A sort of communism?
- No. In communism the state owns everything. Here crowds of people own a single thing, temporarily.
- For the sake of profit?
- Yes. But along the way a social network is built among the temporary owners.
- The share holders would get to know each other.
- Can't they do this other ways? In an ordinary auction house?
- In an auction house bidders compete against each other. Here they are partners. They can talk with each other about what to do with, how best to use the things they have, and whether it's good to have them. Ownership becomes a social act. In an auction house ownership is the source of conflict, is decided by war of bids.
- Bayshare is not a business enterprise, but a social service.
- You could put it that way.
- Thank you, Mr. Miller.
In the car on the way to Haxxpace.
- Do you think they will shut us down?
- They did once already.
- What are we doing with all the money we're making?
- You'll see.
- How much have we made from commissions on share sales?
- 3, 4.
- 3, 4 what?
- On paper? Do we have the money?
- We have it. We had it. We spent some. You'll see.
- I'll see.
Switzerland, World Economic Forum.
Gideon Sachs and fellow bankers are ushered by their bodyguards past the hundreds of barricaded protesters, among them a group of topless Ukrainians from the Occupy movement shivering in the heavy snowfall. He stops, tilts his hat up from his forehead and examines calmly one particularly pretty girl. It is meant to be outrageous, and it succeeds. The crowd erupts in shouts, the bankers and bodyguards close around Gideon and they move together towards the hotel entrance.
In a small conference room about a dozen bankers and politicians are already seated around a table.
- Why provoke them, Gideon?
- It is beyond the point where it matters, don't you think?
- That's what we're here to discuss. Take a seat. You know everyone here. Good. This meeting is the last before we commit ourselves to a process we will not be able to stop. Direct it in the direction we want, yes, to some extent. But enough to succeed? Gideon?
- Yes, with reasonable risk.
- I see our Hungarian colleague didn't come.
- He let the cat out of the bag. Saying we were deliberately driving the world into civil war and economic collapse!
- Well, we are, aren't we?
- He makes me mad. He sees very clearly indeed that civil war and economic collapse might be bad for the majority and be good for us. Yet he makes us out to be greed maddened demons.
- His spends most of his time giving money to the poor. He doesn't know where he belongs. Shall I go on?
- Show the first slide. Here are where there are disruptions now. Some of them will become revolutions. The governments will flee. There will be anarchy. Competing gangs, mafias. We have contacts with nearly all. When the time comes our nation's militaries will force the gangs to submit to government. Those that do we'll reward with influence. We'll annihilate the others. That's in theory.
- In practice, what can we expect?
- It depends on how well we control the protesters. Keep them incoherent and disorganized.
- Can we?
- We're watching them closely. We'll be in trouble if masses of people believe they have little to lose and a lot to gain. Our police and military won't fight a million in the streets. We won't let that happen. We'll convince the people we are saving their lives, managing a difficult transition, that the revolution will lead them to destruction.
- Control of the internet, all the news media, control of the judicial process, control, control. The people will hear only our side. We're ready.
- Are you a democrat, Mr. Sachs?
- The democracy will return when the revolution fails. Only a little less democratic than it was before.
- I mean, Mr. Sachs, are you confident in setting out with us on this journey? With no guilt? Some doubt has been expressed about you.
- Alright. I will write a letter to the editor, correcting the statement of our Hungarian.
I will remind the world that in 1970 they gave Merton a Nobel prize for explaining that we are corporations with limited liability. If we risk 10 dollars we don't have, our loss is limited by law to one dollar. If we risk 100 dollars we don't have, our loss is limited by law to 1 dollar. We choose to make a 99 dollar profit instead of nine dollars. We all do this, we buy each others insanely risky investments, so it goes on for a while. Then it collapses. But we are ready. We have invested in the careers of politicians, so they bail us out and we can start the game again of insanely risky investment. As we are doing now. I will write that the politicians are playing the same risky game we do. We provoke economic and social collapse and are saved by laws and politicians. They provoke revolution and are saved by the military. Bankers are not crazy. Politicians are reasonable. We all are logical. Our game is without risk and we win.
- Sit down, Mr. Sachs. Don't leave us. We enjoy your company too much to lose you.
IV. Cult Classic
Haxxpace work room. Miller, Weston, and others are standing watching the Davos meeting played on a computer screen.
- What was that?
- Well, it could be real but altered, or simply fake. We don't know.
- Where did you get it?
- From your boarding-school roommate. We think.
- Gideon? Why?
- We were shut down, and then mysteriously back up 6 hours later. And then this came in the mail.
- It's a hat.
- A homburg. The hat he wears. With camera and transmitter. Both the hat and the warning disconnect are plot elements from your cult classic, "Hack The Revolution". What do you make of it?
- He's telling us to ask a question.
- What question?
- Bankers are insured by the politicians and governments. Politicians are insured by the military and police. Who insures the military and police? They're the only one's taking a risk.
- That's right. Right out of your book. Teli: take our new friend to see the toys his ideas bought us.
- All of them from your cult classic.
- Stop saying that.
V. Objects On A Table
- Mr. Miller? Come to the table. These objects should be familiar. Home launch satellite. Hundred are moving in orbit across the U.S. Real-time locations are shown here.
- Replacement for the internet? You're connected?
- It's in operation. Every message finds and uses the nearest satellites. Don't touch the copter.Here, on this screen, current activity at Bayshare. On the right side you see a new Bayshare offshoot, BBs. We started taking our commission in trade, things we needed. Then everyone started trading. We stepped in with our own currency. People gave us things, we gave advance credit for paying our commissions. People began trading the credits to each other. It took off. You don't need my explanation. Predicted on page 351 of your book. Members use it to buy and sell from each other even outside of Bayshare.
- It's secure. Our money, our transfer, our internet. No transaction fee. No taxes. People are afraid. 17 cities so far passed special laws making public protest illegal. We're ready for the Internet shut down. Put that down. Mini quad-copters. We have thousands. Bayshare paid for them.
- That's one thing we didn't take from your cult classic. Don't touch the blades. You'll see at Desi's house. He's here.
Outside Haxxpace a call pulls suddenly to the curb. The' driver, a tall, 4 months pregnant blond in dancer's tights and winter overcoat opens the trunk, takes out and hands over to Desi his backpack and laptop case. He taps on the window to get the attention of Miller and Weston inside.
- You don't like to talk much.
- I was looking forward to meeting you my whole life.
- How old are you?
- 22. Perfect for you.
- Page 27 of your book: young women and older men. Optimal division and cooperation of character types.
- I don't remember writing that....
- It will come back to you. Let's go.
VI. Up In The Sky
- Quiet! Hear that?
- What is it? Bees? Locust?
- Look! In the sky!
Hundreds of mini quad-copters appear in the dusk swarming over Desi's isolated hill top house. Suddenly a constellation of lights spells out the words "Welcome Home". Again suddenly the dark of the evening sky is unbroken and the sound of the quad-copters recedes.
- Night writing.
- We're entering a war of communication. People talk, but only to people like themselves. They visit the same web sites, read the same magazines, watch the same programs. How do we reach the people as a whole? Public protests did it for a while. But that's been crushed. What does everyone everywhere have in common?
- They all live under the same sky.
- Writing in the sky won't make a revolution.
- Of course. Tele, shows us the new tool.
- Colleagues in Germany broke the mobile telecommunication codes. On the corner of the screen, see the "M"? That is where the Mayor of our city is right now. Here is where our junior senator is, home from Washington on his break.
- We are going to talk to our politicians personally. In the sky. We're going to ostracize them. Make them understand. Remind them why, what they did, the bribes they took. Show them the people don't accept it any more. They won't be at home in their own county. They won't be able to avoids us.
- They'll shoot down the copters. Jam the transmissions.
- We're ready. We think. We've run simulations, tested tactics. It's not easy to shoot a swarm. Like shooting the air. They disperse.
- We're going to call on all elected officials to resign, immediate new elections.
- And the people will mass in the streets in support? They'll be attacked.
- Demonstrations are a crude way of communicating. We're opening new channels. People can start talking to each other.
- About what?
- Stopping everything until the politicians quit. General Strike.
- It might work. Can we do it quick enough? They'll hunt us.
- We'll be talking to the military, and police too.
- In the sky.
- Yes. They live under the same sky we do.
VII. Traitor Within
An old fashioned Morse-Code signal: Miller looks around him, opens his laptop bag and takes out a satellite phone.
- Where did you get that?
- You gave it to me. At the airport.
- I gave it to you?
- Someone from Haxxpace. When I got off the plane.
- You're not supposed to accept anything from strangers at the airport.
- That's for getting on the plane, not leaving it.
- Hand me the phone. There's a message. Do you know the man in the picture?
- No. Should I?
- It's a diplomatic I.D. issued by the United Nations. To somebody I know is not a diplomat.
- How do you know? On the internet you can buy diplomat status from any number of African countries.
- Because it's Charles. He works with us. He works with me. In tech.
- It doesn't say Charles on the I.D.
- No, it doesn't.
- So ask him about it.
- That's just it. He hasn't shown up for a couple days. Come on.
Tele and Miller walk up the path from the hillside terrace to the house. A work room, filled with computers. She sits down in from of a screen, types in instructions.
- Charles' activity on our network. This is not good. No record for yesterday, the day before.
- Check the satellite logs.
- How did you know that? Yes. But we can only communicate with the one's within range above us. They're in orbit, remember?
- We have people in other places. Can't we asked them to get the logs of the satellites above them?
- Go get Weston. And get ready to leave.
Tele uses a 3-d mouse to display a fly down from space to New Mexico.
- Weston. Take a look. You're up to date on this? We lucked out. A connection, 2 days ago. Delivery address, New Mexico. Diplomatic status? Government installations, right?
- What are you getting at?
- Keep quiet, Miller. Roswell Air Force base.
- Sandia National Labs.
- Nuclear Fusion tests. Let's go, Miller.
- But who sent the message?
- Who do you think? Your boarding school roommate.
- Let's go!
VIII. The 3rd Constitution
Miller And Tele are on the road driving through the Arizona desert. Destination, New Mexico.
- I've got you to myself now. Explain the revolution.
- How well do you know American history?
- Washington was the father of our country...
- And owner of worthless government bonds, and speculator in land he got from the government trading in the worthless bonds, loaner of money at interest....
- And 316 slaves.
- Not to mention. The richest man in the country. Before the constitutional convention, merchants, speculators, and creditors held their own convention. They talked about getting the government to protect their land, their government investments, their loans. In no time at all the confederation was replaced by the constitution.
- You're saying that this is what is happening now? Another replacement? The 2nd replacement?
- It's already happened.
- Conventions were held openly. Years of them. International Monetary Fund, World Economic Forum. The result: consensus was reached, the American Constitution revised.
- The Patriot Act which repealed most of the Bill of Rights, passed by Congress and signed by the President, extended specifically to apply to American Citizens and re-approved last year. Supreme Court decisions giving corporations the rights taken away from the people, explicitly granting them right to free speech in the form of bribing politicians.
- Ok. That's old news.
- It's all old news: In the 1780s bankers, owners, financiers got together to revise the form of Government. 200 years later they've done it again.
- A new Constitution. The third.
- The 3rd. And since it's not the first time it doesn't have to be the last.
- The congress and the judges shared interests with the bankers, property owners, financiers. They worked for them, they were them. We're not them. We can't convince them they share interests with us. They don't.
- We're going to show the people that. Our convention is the entire country. The new constitution is the same as the old, the 2nd, that is, with rights intact, but the politicians gone.
- I say good luck and God save us all!
The Morse code sounds again from Miller's telephone. Tele grabs it from him, then pulls the jeep over to the side of the road.
- A message. Take a look.
- What is it?
- We can go home. We're too late.
- The fusion dome at Sandia! It's beautiful. Plasma halos around 100s of helicopters.
- Quad-copters. Charles sent them in to make a nice picture.
- Nothing else could happen.
- Are you sure?
- Of course I'm sure. Those halos always occur when they pulse the million volt laser. In the next frame the copters crash to the floor.
- Next frame. You see life as a comic strip. Maybe we're making a mistake to trust you.
IX. Some Friends
Gideon drives through the Swiss Alps with his model friend Bennington. After a minute she breaks the silence.
- The papers have been signed.
- How much did it cost me?
- You? Are you the one paying?
- A manner of speaking.
- Don't you worry I'll get fed up with all your evasions and sell my story to the news?
- No. You love me.
- Ha! The police are not going to be happy losing their pensions in your funds.
- You know very well they are not "mine". The investments are in publicly owned entities.
- We'll be home soon.
2. Tele and Miller driving back towards San Francisco.
- Have you really not been in contact with Gideon since school?
- No, I wouldn't say that.
- Then you know whose side he's on?
- He's on both.
- How can that be?
- Do we have to talk about this?
- What happened between you two?
- We disagreed.
- On what?
- How much to compromise in politics.
- You don't have any politics. I think.
- And he doesn't either. He plays at politics.
- Ultimate good. He says.
- Then he is on our side.
- No. It depends on how good we are.
- He'll help us if he thinks we can win?
- That's my guess.
- Some friends you have.
X. Models & Bankers
Many cars line the drive leading up to the small castle, its windows brightly lit. A group of models come down the front steps laughing, and meet Gideon and Bennington as they get out the car.
- Is everything prepared? Let's go inside.
The ballroom floor is crowded by quadcopters. Gideon picks one up in his hand, and speaks to the assembled models.
- In many ways this is a flying telephone. Cloud computing, a single computer in remote connection controls them all. But not all the time. This is the flight control board. It monitors gyros, accelerometers, barometers, GPS, sonars, infrared, etc., and sets the speed of each motor on the copter. On its own each copter can keep level, hover at distance from ground, recover from turbulence or other interference, follow a flight path, return home. Come to the desk.
Copters do much better with a map, especially if they lose remote connection. The cameras in your hats made these maps as you passed through the rooms yesterday, escorted by your Wall street customers. I hope they were satisfied customers. By the way, some of you followed instructions better than others. Don't moan. No one noticed your exaggerated gestures? Of course not. You're models.
Miller and Tele arrive back at Haxxspace. They stand with several others, including Weston, before a monitor showing a news program. The broadcaster says,
- A demonstration has been announced for today at Wall Street. In an amusing twist, the demonstrators are called on to dress as bankers. In an even more amusing twist, every protest organization we contacted denies they have called for the demonstration. The police have promised they will be out in force to handle the illegal assembly. No permit has been issued. As you can see the police are there now. Wait. The protesters, dressed as bankers, are pouring into the street. They were hiding in the building lobbies, is my guess. Strange. Many are angry. In the past demonstrators have been passive, polite, cooperative or reasoning with the police. John, you are in the crowd, can you tell us what is happening?
- James, it is unbelievable! The protesters claim they really are bankers. Some are taking out their wallets and I.D.s. They say they were driven out of their offices by swarms of flying vehicles. They are described them as "toys", buzzing like bees.
- What do you make of it?
- The police are laughing. Arresting the "bankers" by the hundreds.
- Thanks. Take care.
Weston turns and looks at Miller, then at Tele, who says to Miller,
- From your book.
- The demonstrated against become the demonstrators.
- Page 117.
The broadcaster in the studio is back on the screen.
- This just in. Many of the protesters really are bankers, according to latest reports. Several journalists have been arrested, Information is scarce at the moment. Journalists with the protesters have been arrested. Now what is that?
Over Wall Street the night sky is invaded by a loud high pitched buzzing of a swarm of quadcopters. They are nearly invisible until they find their positions and light up in "star writing", spelling out these words in a points of light:
Police! Check Internet! The Bankers Have Lost Your Pensions! AIT is Bankrupt! Your Money Gone!
- We are getting confirmation. AIT is bankrupt. Corporate officials say they have discovered more than 3 Billion dollars is "missing". On Wall Street, the bankers who were being released are still being held. A confusing situation.
Weston asks Tele,
- Are those the missing copters from Charles? New Mexico?
- Does anyone else have capability?
- Their ours. I'm pretty sure.
- Hope you're right. Miller. You're the strategist. Does this change our plans?
- Are we all agreed this is Gideon?
- He either couldn't resist a practical joke, or he thinks we're delaying to much. Are we ready?
- Then let's begin. The real problem is distancing ourselves from Gideon's threats of violence. So far they are jokes, but that can change.
- Any ideas?
- Have you ever heard the saying that there's nothing more difficult to copy than true originality?
- No. You just made it up.
- If we have our own style people will know when it's us.
Commotion in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. Outside a crowd has gathered, all heads turned up. Police are guarding the doors, and the D.C. Fire Department is arriving with their water trucks and hoses. In the sky above, in a rolling tape like a stock market report, is a list of Congress Members, each name followed by a number and an acronym for the corporate lobby that has contributed that amount. Interspersed is the repeating message, "Pensions, zero".
With big smiles on their faces the firemen slowly lead the hoses out through the crowd and, as the police in front of the Congress raise their riot shields the fire department unleashes the full power of the water stream on them. The crowd cheers.
Haxxspace. Miller & Tele.
- How are they lighting in daylight? You said they had the same technology.
- When he left Charles was working on a reflected light display. No illumination. Like a screen for a book reader.
- We need some help here. Everyone is laughing, but it's not our style. It verges on violence. It will be turned against us. Do we know anyone in aeronautics?
- I'm ahead of you. He should be here soon.
- You knew I was wrong?
- Sure. Politics has no style. It is liars and exposing the liars.
- Didn't know you were so radical.
- What do you think I am doing here?
XIII. Talk To The Sky
Wall Street conference room. Gideon speaks to the bankers we know from Davos:
- What's wrong?
- You went too far.
- I bailed you out. Can we get down to business?
- Despite your perverse choice of tactics, you've succeeded.
- State of Emergency: you've convinced him?
- If thing go on as they are. We're counting on you for that.
- National Guard? Army?
- Are their pension plans safe from you?
- Are your pensions safe?
A television news crew is gathered outside the Mayor's residence, and the reporter readies himself to speak to the camera. In the background the hum of quadcopters gradually gets louder.
- Politicians all around the country, mocked by the copters, are complaining they can't confront their accusers. Writing in the sky cannot be cross examined. Here he is the mayor, leaving his home. Mayor, what do you have to say about the sky writing?
- If I could talk to whoever is responsible I'd give them my piece of mind.
- What if I told you that you can?
- What do you mean?
- We've been told they're watching our broadcast, the sky writing copters will be here - they are here! Look up!
- Ask them to speak their libels to my face.
- And there is your answer. Can our audience read it? It says, "Face Facts. Your time's up." They are calling for mass resignations and new elections. Will you resign?
- They are a danger to public health and safety. Cowards!
- Now it says, "there's no health & safety where profits makes the laws". And it says, "Cowards sell out public health and safety for profit."
- Look! Paper money rains down, and now a sketch of a man looking a lot like the mayor scrambling to grab as much as he can. That's gone. Writing another of those ticker-tape lists of corporate lobbies, money received, laws passed. Any comment, Mr. Mayor? Is the information correct?
- We'll shoot them out of the sky.
- Since when is there no freedom of speech in the skies?
- I told you. They're a threat to public health and safety.
XIV. War Of Words
Chicago. 50,000 protesters converge and confront the G8 and NATO, setting up impromptu encampments throughout the city, waging a war of words, using new tactics of anarchic swarming and inventive nonviolence.
The Hungarian philosopher Temast addresses a crowd of protesters outside at a city square:
The capitalist class rules, but it is anonymous and open, and therefore impossible to hate, to storm, to chase away. So is the proletariat. Legal, political and cultural equality (equality here only means a random distribution of – very real – advantages and privileges) has made class conflict into what Capital makes it out to be.Equality, arrived at through redistribution, does not and cannot preclude domination and hierarchy – a hierarchy moreover that, unlike in aristocratic systems, does not build upon a cosmology and a metaphysics that could effect a reconciliation with reality (and what else is reality than servitude and dependence?).Class as an economic reality exists, and it is as fundamental as ever, although it is culturally and politically almost extinct. This is a triumph of capitalism.But this makes the historical work of destroying capitalism less parochial, it makes it indeed as universal, as abstract and as powerful as capitalism itself.
In Haxxspace's offices in San Francisco Weston, Tele, Miller and others are watching this speech on a monitor.
- Well, Miller?
- Write above him this:
Capitalism? Triumph? Childish name calling. Are our economics based on lies or truth? If lies, expose them.
- Too many words.
- Give me a chance. Just getting started.
- Type them!
The instructions are typed, the monitor show almost immediately the crowd's attention distracted from the philosopher to the sky above. A roar of approval meets the words.
- Again, fast!
If employment is slavery, find another way. All it takes is looking. All it takes is knowing it doesn't have to be like this.
- Too many words. But send it!
Again, after a few moments, shouts of approval meet the words. The philosopher himself seems amused. He says,
My greetings to the powers above. If you will do us the honor of making the revolution, we welcome you. Welcome to Chicago! People?
A shout of "Welcome To Chicago!" comes from the crowd.
Suddenly the crowd becomes silent. A flurry of telephones being produced from pockets and bags and straps, and then the crowd disperses in all directions. The explanation is not long in coming: police in riot gear, shields, body armor, helmets pour into the emptied square. Copters are heard approaching. Immediately rifles are raised and shots fired as the copters fly into view, hover briefly, and depart, leaving behind them a cloud of fine blue dust. The receding buzz of the copters is replaced by coughing of police as they remove their helmets and wipe their eyes with whatever is at hand.
At a cafe around the corner, drifts of blue smoke hovering menacingly by, Prof. Temast sits with Gideon. We are looking at a poster, one of dozens, each headlined "Yesterday!" documenting the protests, a mobile art exhibition set up outside on the sidewalk before the very cafe. And inside at the same window table sit Professor Temast and Gideon.
- Yesterday. Twenty years ago you were an Anti-Communist. Yesterday you were a Marxist. What are you today?
- A Theorist. Theorist of revolution.
- What is your theory?
- Do you want me to tell you what you'll be hearing at your G-8 summit this afternoon?
- If it will save me from having to go.
- It won't do that. You're going to hear how technocrats are in battle with nationalists. Politicians are the technocrats, making small, gradual, but successful improvements. They are menaced by primitive, unenlightened resistance, misguided people who want results without working for them. The governments will manage. All lies.
- They aren't technocrats?
- They don't have knowledge. They are not scientists. They've done no experiments, have no evidence, give no proofs. They are not technocrats. They are mechanics. They know how to build one kind of machine, which they use to their benefit, but not to the benefit of all.
- I'll give them the message.
- Do that. Tell them they use their pretense of "technical knowledge" to avoid seeing other ways of doing things.
- Come along and tell them yourself.
- Mr. Sachs, we are through talking to them, as you given us the means to talk with each other.
- Have I?
- We've begun a dialog. A dialog in the skies. A celestial dialog. We will get the people talking again, see the other ways. If you don't go too far with your provocations, if you don't lose yourself playing all sides.
- I have you to guide me. That's what I'm paying you for.
XVI. Means And Ends
A conference room on the top floor of a Chicago skyscraper. Wall screens show demonstrations across the city. Professor Temest is briefly seen on a network news program.
XVII. Preparations For Battle
- Nobody cares about philosophy.
- Gideon studied philosophy. A little known fact.
- Gideon? What are you up to?
- We wanted disorder. Never in the history of the world have philosophers had a chance to remake the world. Given the right technology they might get the job. It appealed to me. And it's certain to make an unprecedented mess.
- Where did you find that guy?
- He'd been fired from his University. Living with 4 children off his $250 a month Hungarian pension.
- And you're paying him somewhat more. Listen, Gideon. We're not idiots. We know we're mechanics, and there are other machines to operate. But this one is ours, we like it, we enjoy making it go. We don't want to give it up.
- You won't have to, if the world is made up of people who think like you.
- Numbers are on our side.
- Most people are like you. At the moment. Forgotten that machines, as enjoyable as they are to use, were made for a purpose.
- Remind me, Gideon. What is the purpose? Make life easier?
- That is more talk about means. Ease to do what?
- Out with the philosophy.
- The purpose, the use of tools is to feel at home in the world. To like.
- To love.
- Yes, to love.
- Ok. We love our machine. Our money making machine.
- That love is forgetting.
- That's envy talking.
- No. Loving machines makes you a different kind of person. A worse person.
- Philosophers don't do anything but assert. Talk. The same as we do. Nothing is proved. Your philosophers won't succeed.
- They don't have to prove. They have only to call attention to the possibility that means are used to an end.
- If operating machines is all that we humans were made for, there is no way to choose to one machine rather than another. The only question is, does it go, does it run? and you guys are making sure it runs.
- So you get the philosophers to argue, argue in public, in the sky, about ends, the big questions, the purpose of life. And then our machine, the choice of our machine, is called into question.
- Very good. You should go back to school.
- And what do you propose we do if they succeed?
- In getting people to stop thinking of themselves as operators of machines?
- Yes. And start questioning our machine, as your philosopher so eloquently put it.
- Give them their own little machine to play with?
- I don't trust you, Gideon. You speak in a joking tone, but I believe you are serious.
- I am serious.
- Then we instruct you to stop. All of it. Now.
- I really would like to comply with your suggestion. But too late now, as they say.
- Why is it too late?
- Look on the screens. See that antenna? Those towers? Electronic counter measures the police hope to use against the copters. The copters who attacked them.
- You attacked them.
- Did I? I forget. The groups operating the copters have counter-strategies prepared. The police, pepper sprayed from the heavens, have a mandate to stop them. The philosophers have their public, and the means to reach them. Each group has its own momentum. We have to let it play out. It's what you wanted.
- And the different economic machine? That is not what we want.
- Isn't that what is so interesting? Throughout history people have fought for God, what they called God, and didn't know what the hell they were fighting for and fighting against. This time people know what they are fighting against, the machine, a tool that has become its own end.
- They won't get anything good out of it and you know it.
- Because the world will never give us anything better than an efficient machine that slows us down, occupies and diverts us from killing each other?
- That is right, though you put it wrong: the world is safer with us than without us. That is the beginning and end of it. Means don't matter.
XVII. Preparations For Battle
Chicago streets. Copters are raining to the ground. Protesters, many in mock banker uniforms, carry umbrellas to protect themselves, and swagger with them as they walk.
Haxxspace. Tables with copters in various stages of assembly. Sound pipes are being fitted by Tele to the cross shaped frames. Miller looks on.
- How far behind are we in repairs?
- Why did your roommate have to provoke them? Why? Tell me why?
- I told you.
- Tell me again.
- It's revolution. He wants to speed up innovation.
- The theory. We can't win fighting them with their tools. We have to invent news ones.
- We're behind, but we have new ideas. Some are your old ideas.
- Trolling nets...electrified...for Faraday cages to block interference signals?
- Not bad!
- In the wind tunnel, ranked propellers....use copters themselves to creative defensive wind turbulence?-
- What else?
- Let's go out to the maelstrom. Get your umbrella!
XVIII. Golden Gate
Army Base, San Francisco. Command center of Elite Counter Terrorism Unit (ECTU). A subaltern delivers a report to his chief.
- Yes?- From General Dynamics, the social media key word report. Twitter, Facebook, Google+.
- What's our 11 million dollars have to say?
- Bulge in the word "bridge". San Francisco metro area.
- Who else has this information?
- We're getting calls from Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Coast Guard (USCG), Customs and Border Protection (CBP),Border Patrol, Secret Service (USSS), National Operations Center (NOC), Homeland Defense,Agent Task Force, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Fusion Center (FC)
- What's that?
- Just kidding. Continue.
- Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF),
Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Air Marshal, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Guard.
- And they all are on their way to the bridge.
- Some of them. What are we going to do?
- Join them.
Crossing the Golden Gate bridge, Tele is reading on her laptop while Miller drives.
- Listen to this: between 1985 and 1992 a Los Angeles hospital treated 118 people for falling bullet injuries around New Year's Eve or the Fourth of July. Thirty-eight of the victims died. Ever wondered what happens to bullets shot up in the air?
- They come down.
- How did you know?
- Where else would they go?
- Don't miss the turn off. See the glass house on the hill, all windows? The mayor's estate. Park there. Stop.
- Now what?
- We wait. Tell me why you're alone.
- Aren't you here? And we're expecting company - flying bullets?
- Yes, there's a good chance. I meant alone in life.
- Shouldn't we park somewhere else?
- We're fine. It's been calculated. Aerodynamics. Caliber. Angles. Velocity. Not your field. Why are you alone? What kind of woman do you like?
- The kind that likes me. I trust to luck.
- What kind is that? That likes you?
- Your luck hasn't changed. Here they come.
The buzz of copters becomes audible, as well as the whine and chop of full scale helicopters, and then the sound of heavy ground vehicles. Crowds of protesters have gathered on the bridge, their cheers welcome the mini quadcopters, followed by silence as the army tanks and wheeled guns arrive at the waterside.
The mini quadcopters execute complicated flying stunts, and then suddenly they illuminate in a fireworks like explosive display. As the copters return, for the first time, an eerie music is heard as the stops on the copter mounted pipes are opened and closed. And then, the sound of real guns from the army on the shore. The copters again light up their firworks display, and with the pipes in unison sound a mocking "boom".
- Get down!
- Down where?
- On the floor, idiot!
There is a distant, drawn out tinkling of shattering glass as the mayor's house receives a quantity of the falling bullets.
XIX U.C. Berkeley
Miller and Tele drive by Haxxspace, or try to: barricades have been set up, the street blocked by paramilitary, and a large truck mounted transmitter is parked at the front entrance.
- Now what?
- Too much to ask why?
- To see the speechwriter.
They pass small crowds waiting with evident but unknown purpose, or walking together. Fallen copter parts, especially the rotor blades, have been scavenged and turned into badges and hats, bracelets and necklaces.
Institute of Social Technology. University of California. Dr. Tomey's small office.
- We're modeling indoctrination. The way communication destroys reason. Ruins thinking. How certain ways of talking make other ways of talking not understood. We study the war of words against words.
- No more words, Professor. We came about our project.
- Mr. Sachs, your friend...
- Who says our friend!
- Mr. Sachs said....it doesn't matter. He owns Quasked, the question and answer social network. There are many. But here, you see, people vote on questions, say whether they like them. A "no", "don't like", is a good indication of resistance, indoctrination. It's like it was made to order for us. We don't have time for the usual surveys and focus groups. Our questions have been given priority access. And it's producing results. Look. Dozens of versions of "sky messages". They are ranked, recombined, retested. All automated. Here is one text scoring high:
$15 Trillion is the current U.S. Deficit.There are more than 300 Million Americans.That makes $50,000 borrowed in the name of each American.Where did the $15 Trillion go?A few percent to social services.The greater part of the rest went to tax cuts for corporations and to paying corporate military contractors.15 Trillion dollars borrowed from Americans and given to corporations. The money isn't gone. It is in corporate bank accounts. Each of 300 million Americans pays between one and two thousand dollars interest each year on the money borrowed and given to the corporations.What did the corporations give back?
- Long. But good.
- Yes. Theory is, hook onto an interest, then pull.
- Someone selfishly interested in money won't be interested in basic human relations.
- Yes. Only if you remove the conflict between money and everything else. In this case, we show that what is preventing everything else is also costing money. There is no longer any reason not to remember.
- That destroying basic human relations harms their selfish interests too.
- And then like in a fairy tale they will wake up to human truth, goodness, and beauty, because their selfishness leads them there.
- Yes. Well put. You should be a writer.
- Don't encourage him. Thanks. Let's go.
XX. It's The Only Way
Miller and Tele drive the freeway east towards Nevada. Tele taps on the console-mounted monitor.
- Where to?
- The desert.
- Why not.
- We're putting you to use. Re-education. You meet the Hungarian.
- The billionaire?
- Not that one. The philosopher. Look at the screen. What do you think all those good people in Guy Fawkes masks and copter prop beanies are doing holding their phones up to the sky?
- You tell me.
- Your "long but good" message is being delivered.
- Copters spelling out a shortened link. Captured by phone cameras.
- Watch the phones come down. All together. It's like a dance. They're reading now.
Warehouse, desert. Miller, Tele, Temest. In one area, automated laser lathes cut out copter parts. In another, assembly by robot arms. In another, stacks of parts.
- Temest, this is Miller. He's not famous like you.
- The government's not watching him.
- I wouldn't go so far as that....
- Take a walk?
- Have fun, guys.
Temest and Miller go out, follow a dirt path through the dry landscape. Cactus, rocks.
- First, this is not a revolution. If it were we wouldn't need you.
- Why do you need me? And who are you? You're famous?
- Not much. Do you remember, it's in one of your stories of fantasy, the billionaire test?
- "Who's Got A Billion To Spare?"
- Yes. The answer is, hundreds of people do. You wrote: 1 million children are starving in Africa. If not today, they will be tomorrow. One thousand dollars will airlift enough food for a year for each. One billion dollars will save a million lives.
- Yes. A calculation. You don't mean to say someone came up with the money?
- I do mean to say.
- I don't understand.
- Listen, you write these things. Use your head. If the government gives the money to its friends in corporations to pay for falsely sold wars, billionaires can solve world poverty by paying our friends.
- We're in the aid business?
- Among other things. Many other things.
- You began as an economist.
- You do know who I am.
- Came across you researching. Your ideas is, shame the rich into joining us?
- No. Many people are helping. It's not a revolution.
- What is it?
- Evolution. The tens of millions of people in this country who have a million dollars in assets - house, cars, pensions etc. - they don't want revolution. They are not social. In the sixties society was their enemy. They wanted to get free of it to enjoy peace, love, their drugs. It didn't come to anything, because you need to know how to love, how to be peaceful, even how to benefit from taking drugs. The same people are the millionaires now. Society is still their enemy, but they are making money out of it. Like in the 60s they had love without knowing what to do with it, they have money now without knowing how to put it to good use. In their ignorance, they've progressed from love to money. And money is much safer than love.
- Those are my words, and you know it! The wealthy won't go back to the 60s. What's your point?
- We can't appeal to love, peace, experience.
- Let's take this path through the cactus. Watch your step. You can't tell people who hate society that they are building a bad society. They know it's bad. They don't care. They think it has to be that way. It's their religion. What's important for them is they profit from it.
- But if their are ostracized, if the "Billionaire Calculation" is written in the sky?
- They will repress, use police, army. Stop the communication in the name of public health and safety. It's happening.
- When you and me were in school we learned about social evolution. The theory was that families that cooperated reproduced more than those that fought each other. In time, a wish to cooperate became an instinct.
- Not a strong one.
- Exactly. The genetic possibility isn't enough. Circumstances have to be there first to allow cooperation to succeed, then genetics can pass on the trait. Understand?
- What's your point?
- The wealthy are against society because they never experienced it. We have to face facts. They are not going to be part of a revolution. Not until circumstances evolve.
- And we are the future, the competition in evolution. The cooperators, who live with the right circumstances. Our evolution will be crushed. It'll be like a new ice age, meteors, volcanic environmental catastrophe....
- No, Miller. We've got funding.
- For our non-revolution?
- For our practice that creates the reality.
- Practice revolution. Hopeless.
- Pay attention! The art people make together isn't real, but the working together is real. Have you seen the way crowds of protesters seem to vanish just ahead of the arrival of the forces of order? Game players, linked to each other on the internet, are answering our questions of strategy right now, working out our logistics as they play.
- Like the question answering does our editing. Do the game companies know it?
- Ask your hacker friend. People are out there, in the world of business, some are cooperators. We're learning, we're living. It's the only way.
Teke calls to the two men from the doorway,
- Guys, if the world of ideas can spare you, you're wanted in reality. In virtual reality. Or both. Fast!
Copters are lifting off from the pad on the building's roof, 100s of them.
- Come on! You can watch from inside. Sit. This is going to be good. We hope. First try. The copter game has been out for a little over a week. More than a hundred thousand players on the internet. We're making money. We're learning strategy, the computer is learning strategy. The computer is better than I am, better than any of you are too, but not better than me and the computer together.
So we're going live here, to see if the players, out there in net land, playing what we'll watch going on outside in a slimmed down version, can help us win. Help our computers win. Each player's move counts as a vote, each vote is weighted by the player's expertise proven by past play, and the summed human element is weighted against the computer's move based on past play. There's more to it. No time now.
The copters are in two teams, red lights and blue lights. They perform martial arts style near misses, sometimes coming too close and hitting, exploding into pieces and crashing to earth. Inside the control room Tele taps the edge of the largest of maps, exclaims, What!
In a teenage boy's bedroom the game version of what we are watching is running on a laptop. The boy puts his finger on the screen in the same spot, says, Copters! He raises his head to look out the window as a deep buzzing in heard. A fleet of copters darkens the sky.
XXII. First Engagement
- Disperse the copters!
- Where's the attack coming from?
- East. From town.
- Their control team can't be far. We can find them.
- Sure. But maybe you haven't heard: they shot down our satellites. Internet's down. Telephone too.
- We can test off-line back-up. How many wifi routers are ready?
- Five thousand. Give or take.
- Call the copters home....
- It's default soon as communication's interrupted. They're on their way back.
- Good. When they arrive load the routers. Send the copters to town.
Over the small desert town small packages are parachuting down to the streets, awaited with open arms and caught with sometimes exaggerated acrobatics before they reach the ground.
A young couple rushes with their acquisition into a cafe with large glass windows, find a table. Router and game controller are plugged in, along with laptop and iphone. USB sticks, taped to the back of the router for the descent, are pulled off and stacked neatly on the table..
The laptop screen shows two opposing clouds of copters over a satellite image of the town's streets. The young man taps the locator icon, says
- Here we are.
The screen goes black, and immediately a message appears:
"Now what, revolutionary? Your move."