Monday, 27 January 2014

Story 26 - The Dream Machine and the End of the Human Race

It was a new application. Invented by a man in New Poland called Mac Schubert. Somehow it tapped into your brain and read your mind.

We remember everything you see, it’s all there. Our little conversations, the thoughts, the decisions, the scratchings of our heads… a lifetime of tiny incidents from deciding what we’re going to eat for breakfast to what shirt we’ll wear for work. A lifetime of memories.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could live your life again? “Live your life over,” was the line they used in the advertisements.

Schubert and co had the elderly in mind. Too old and infirm to do much apart from sit in a chair plugged in to their i-pads. It would bring happiness to victims of unfortunate accidents: the disabled, and could even aid depression, madness, drug addiction and the list went on.

Choose a date, a time, hit the button and you were away. What were you doing at four o’clock on the twenty-first of June nineteen-ninety-three? The dream machine would take you back to that moment and you were suddenly re-living a day forgotten by your conscious mind.

Remember that holiday in Madrid back when you were eighteen? Why not go again?

Apple secured the patenting. Millions were spent on advertising and billions were made as the world queued up to get their own personal app.

Almost immediately the effect of this new toy began to take its toll. (Have you guessed it yet?)

Put yourself in the situation of your average Joe Bloggs. You have a choice: Get up, start a whole new day that might turn out to be fairly non-eventful, even disastrous; or stay in bed, turn on your dream app and live through a day that’s guarunteed to bring you a perfectly satisfying, pleasurable time.

When one could repeatedly go back to their golden age of youth, was there really any alternative?

And then something new became available; an illegal download: Hackers tapped in to the dreams that people were experiencing and sold them on the black market.

Unsatisfied with your own life? How about trying something new? Ever seen the pyramids? Ever fought in a war? Ever had a threesome with two well-known porn stars? Ever been Tom Cruise?

An ageing Tom Cruise (you may have heard of him) was famously fighting a legal battle to win back the privacy of his own memories. Mostly he was unsuccessful because the hackers had got there before the laws were written; and the lawyers who gave a damn were few and far between anyway - too busy re-living their (or Tom Cruise’s) college days…

Addiction to the device proved devastating to commerce. People were showing less enthusiasm for their jobs, hardly willing to leave the house. Food was about the only thing anybody bought. Before they knew it they’d become cocooned inside their own minds. The body no longer had any use - people stopped taking care of their personal appearance and hygiene. They ate, they shat, they dreamed.

Apple may have secured the patenting but soon the thing had gone viral. It had spread across the world in a matter of months. Unemployment soared. People were stealing the essentials, feeding their habits by abusing the public electricity sources.

Of course there were some who opposed the devise. There were demonstrations, petitions; there were even plans to make it illegal by the end of it. But inevitably it was too late. Nobody was living. Almost no one was making any effort to start a family, to reproduce. The average age of the world population eventually exceeded sixty and after that there was no going back. The governments no longer cared and even the scientists were too busy being Steven Hawking to come up with any useful solution to the problem.

There are a few of us left now. But we can hardly call ourselves “the human race.” We’re barely animals. Nothing but tribes scattered around here and there. Surviving. Learning. Starting again. To conquer the planet again we’ve more than a long way to go.

All we can do is learn from our mistakes. But the device still exists. And even with education the danger will always be out there somewhere.

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