Monday, 3 August 2015

Satisfaction Factor

“Dawn of the replicants” was what it said on the leaflet title. Then it appeared in the headlines. The papers blamed the migrants. The people blamed the government and the government blamed the rest of the world. It was the migrant crisis that started it properly. The questioning. Why was it that politicians, in office, with all the powers they have couldn't decide how to act? Why did they freeze? They said a lot, they said they were doing “everything they could” and that “everything that could be done was being done” but in fact, out there amongst the people on whatever side or colour, who needed help, well, nothing was being done. Nothing. That's a powerful word to apply to a serious situation. We are doing nothing.

We all thought, nothing is being done because there is no right answer but we still thought there was a right answer. We thought; let the migrants in in some “controlled” way and alleviate the suffering, now. They are not (all) bad people so let them in. The politicians however could not be so clear. They had to think strategically, they had to think about the next few steps and they had to think about their policies and beliefs and about the opinions of their supporters and what might happen next. We were not so bother with any of that. We wanted a fix...and better weather.

So the system stalled, faltered you might say. Nothing was being done and the pressure increased. The public were unhappy and the press and the media, infiltrated by industry (we now suspect) began to say “what's the point in having politicians running things if they can't act or be decisive because they are worried about their popularity and their reputations and standings. That's not a good system, that's how dictatorships form, right there in a power vacuum.” I wondered what to make of it all and watched.

The migrants, well they rioted, some were shot, some learned to speak French, most made it over  and the tunnel was burned up, quite badly. So badly it was no longer used and the UK and French economies suffered. The prices of food and fuel went up in ways nobody could quite explain for reasons nobody understood. Some firms went out of business, others boomed and the banks groaned. The migrant people still came across and got jobs or claimed benefits. Truly there was no way of knowing what was going on and no way to be sure who was telling the truth. The government just liked to say that the crisis was “ongoing” and that people had to be “on their guard” and “vigilant”. This type of language was used exhaustively as if to promote fear but without explanation and thought migrant types were still criticized and vilified nothing really bad seemed to come from them being here, ever.

It all happened quite quickly really. It was about six months before the general election that the corporations explained that they were infiltrating the political parties with “synths” (robots); convincing, human like beings with a partial-consciousness feature who could and would govern us via logic and fairness in ways that humans could not.  There was fear and scepticism to begin with but the truth was it was hard to tell the synths from the humans, on TV anyway and really none of us ever met real or artificial politicians up close anyway so did it make a difference? They all seemed pretty reasonable and slowly the humans started to take a back seat, they said and did less and the synth campaigns turned out to be powerful and more articulate and sensible than those of the humans. It was an emotional night, the night when the polling results were released. The synths won in most areas by sizeable margins. Less well off and ethnically diverse areas seemed to like the synth's cross party ideals: Freedom, fairness, sharing and an end to corruption and as far as we could believe their programming they would deliver on these things. The human MPs were now in the minority, some with the synths and some against. Those who were against were a colourful bunch and the held a wide range of beliefs. The most extreme being religious based thinkers who felt that the synths were “against the will of God”. Occasionally acts of violence were perpetrated agains the synths – as yet it was not a crime to terminate the life of a synth that you owned however as synths cost over £250k each few ordinary people owned one. The synths fought back but were mostly defended by groups of the lower classes and ex-migrants who, despite being suspicious of the synth's makers believed in the “Ethos of Synth” as it was described. 

As for me, well like a few  others I saw the writing on the wall. We moved out from the urban sprawls and set up camps and communes as far as we could get from the drones and patrols. It was not to be an easy existence. I was never convinced of the synth's ability to govern according to the so called ethos. Deep inside their artificial intelligence there was a masked allegiance to the corporations that had made them and the simple of move of bringing in the synth administration had handed the power base over quickly and efficiently. The country was being run by a set of washing machine programmes fronted up by stem cell and latex based figures who cared not a jot for the outcome of their policies. Or did they? Six months later in the depths of Wales on a pub television I watched the figures come in for the country's budget, for industry and the economy and for the psf  “people's satisfaction factor”, a new measure that the synths had introduced. Everything was coming up roses or headed that way and in such a short time. Maybe the humans just needed a bit help.

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