A meeting (IV 1) Control (IV 3)

Supervision (IV 2)

Tags: Me Science fiction Stories

"I can't see why we have to do this."

And a knot, and this line over here, and then the braid ...

"I mean, we've never done anything like it before."

And another knot, and a new line, and bend it like this, and start a new braid here ...

"How can you do something like this?"

"Sorry, were you talking to me?"

"How can you agree with this? It's outrageous."

"Something like what?"

"These new additions to the devices. They go against everything we've ever done."

Clear eyes looked up from the lines and the knots. A sigh. And then the intricate work stopped. "I don't see that. It's just an extension of what we've done from the start."

"But what about free will?"

Another sigh. "Well, I guess it was time for a break anyway. Let me tell you a story. Back when I started in this department, our devices were very primitive. We could monitor good and evil, shame and innocence, but not much more. But that was enough. Later we added stuff like lust and gluttony, repentance, charity, faith and hope, and even martyrdom and saintliness. And I guess it just grew over time. Last year we added 'good with money' and 'environmentally aware'. That last one was a lot of fun."

"But that's not the same at all!"

"Well, I don't know. This new stuff, empathy, listening, observation, it's all pretty basic. And some of it we already had."

"You know that's not what I mean. Monitoring is one thing. But soon they'll start interfering. And that's new."

"Not really. The old Santa Claus trick, where we compiled 2 lists, and then distributed presents on that basis, I don't really see the difference."

"Back then, you knew how it worked. But as I understand it, this intervention will be kept a secret. And whenever they monitor low values of, say, empathy, they're going to add it - somehow. It's just not right. And it has nothing to do with free will - if I don't want to be empathic, why force me?"

"Hm. Well, this whole business with the free will is a bit blurry anyway. Whether it really exists, or it's just an illusion. Whether it was meant to be part of the spec, or it was a misunderstanding. So I'm not sure why we should pay a lot of attention to that."

"Well - well, what about the poor babies? I hear they cry a lot when the devices are installed?"

"Babies always cry. We go between time, insert the device, slip away, and the parents just see their baby crying again, for mysterious reasons. And babies forget quickly. I haven't done very much of installing and upgrading, but from what I've seen, it didn't seem to hurt. Grownups act like they have a little head ache, and forget all about it. No, these days we have pretty much perfected the process."

There was silence for a moment. The apprentice seemed to have run out of questions. "So, you think this is okay?"

"Sure. Anyway, we'll only be monitoring. It will be somebody else who do the actual changes. So don't worry about it. Okay?"

"Okay ... I guess."

"Well, I'm glad you asked. Just tell me if you have any other worries." The master went back to the workbench, and picked up the half finished device. The electrode of empathy over here, and the line of listening there, and a new knot ... The whole sequence was almost optimal now. There was such joy in a job well done.

Created: 6 March, 2008 - Last changed: 27 March, 2008 - Comments (0)