I arrive at the Solgen3 base station complex, above here in space is the highest output plant of the six orbiting Earth. The security is tight to say the least. Heavily armed mechanized soldiers patrol the extended grounds, inside two levels of solid walled checkpoints that we passed through earlier. Among them are numerous anti-aircraft batteries as well as other ground-based defenses. The safety of the Solgen project is paramount considering how important power is to every citizen’s life, not to mention the Government’s operational capacity.
Even with an escort, I am body scanned to make certain that I am not carrying anything disruptive, or if I’m simply a walking bomb ready to blow. Upon arriving at the tether, I see why it is so challenging to capture a true representation of this technology. Pure carbon black and surprisingly thin, the four tether lines shoot up into the vast empty blue sky. Three identical lines form a triangle around one thicker line in the center. The base station is an equally impressive structure with what amount to massive metal doughnuts resting on the roof. They are capable of opening and then clamping down on one of the tethers with a reminiscence of an ancient comic about transforming robots that I occasionally read in my off-time.
Citizens are carefully sheltered in all aspects of their lives. Being based on Earth where humanity grew up has the expectation of a long and frankly average life. Your basic needs are provided for, as long as you fully embrace the career that the Government has given you. The common schooling structure is specifically designed to weed out your natural talents and nurture them until you come of legal age. Even what ancestors of the separate governments era would call a “couch potato” is considered a “citizen consumer of goods and services” and is a valid career path for many, if not most, people. Usually, anyone who fails at performing their given career is moved into one of those types of jobs. Many of the undesirable jobs are handled by AI infused robotics, but there is a resurgence of some humans showing interest in manual labor… presumably to avoid the citizen consumer tag of a tragically selfish and meaningless life, in my opinion. This only happens with a strict Government based review process, but is becoming more frequent in the past few years.
I must have been lucky because I was tagged in my work profile early on as a special case, with multiple skills I could perform equally well. Technology-Scientific-Systems as well as a broad artistic tendency was my label. The funny thing about art is that Government approval of artists usually happens shortly after birth. The child’s brain is analyzed and found to be more active on the artistic side of the brain. I was around 65% to the artistic side, which allowed leeway for other skills to be validated. In time, my natural interest in technology was noted in the data file and further developed. With art, the strong tendency was toward a “maker of things”. This skill is somewhat rare based on a global percentage of a population basis, so that usually sets the individual’s career path to one direction, a creator producer.
What the schooling systems didn’t pick up on is my interest in the analysis of life and our cultural society. I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of how things are, with these forcefully assigned social and work roles. I’ll always be considering why what we are now is truly better than how humanity was just a few centuries ago. So the more content I am able to produce, the more free time I have to contemplate these topics from both a technical and social perspective.
At the time of legal age, I was placed into the position of general entry-level consumer content provider. I worked on articles that helped consumers decide what products best fit their desires and credit budget. In time I was able to branch out into other forms of content creation and media experimentation. A content provider creates things based on our given skills and provides them to the vast consumer division in as many forms of media as we can muster. As a content provider, I’m rather forced to do as much as possible, because we are totally reliant on the credit system. The more popular and fantastic we can make our labors, the more reward it brings in the form of living situation, necessity level provided for, and down time allocated. While somewhat rare, creators that turn into content failures end up as consumers on the lowest of social rank. They are only provided the bare minimum necessities, but are given opportunities to improve their situation as a consumer with time and effort. The Government has decided this level of risk gives creators the necessary motivation to succeed.
On the other side of the coin, the consumer system is even more complex. There is a lottery system, consumer drive system, and waiting lists for various types of goods and services they consume. Not every consumer can have a private transport or a 10,000 square foot living space, but they can’t exactly work for the opportunity to have those things. Consumers must excel in subtle ways to garner more of the most desired content, goods, and services. It isn’t easy for them to move up in the ranks.
Such extravagant things are also open to producers, but the only means to achieve them is to gain more consumer followers and notoriety. I’m now on a fast path to a large consumer base of my work, yet it still isn’t that simple. Things like the quality and quantity of the work, as well as Government rating, are factors in the equations. The current state of human existence is a mishmash of political and economic systems that came before us, but with a flat impersonal data driven twist.
You would think that when a large percentage of the Earth’s population is given a stress free life of consuming, problems would be few and far between. That isn’t the case and can be seen just by looking at the Solgen3 base station’s security. A contingent of mechanized soldiers that could take down an entire army of what was called a small “country” in ancient times are needed to protect the facility from harm.
This problem, as I’ve contemplated, is caused by the nature of some anomalous humans that the Government and AI systems don’t take into account, or rather don’t bother to consider except at face value. While the populous is monitored and sanctioned, these individuals manage to find methods of communication between each other. At times, they manage to go off the monitoring grid entirely. Even with a “digital mum” monitoring both the physical and digital realms, her artificial intellect and manned presence isn’t able to cover the entire Earth, as well as the habitable new territories of the Solar System. Part of my job will eventually be to see and document the state of areas outside the primary Earth ring. I’m expecting some interesting times ahead where the Government has less presence and strength.