Reset is first in a trilogy of "neurohumanistic" short stories that posit a world post-singularity, taking place mid-21st Century. It is a world in the midst of a new zeitgeist arising from the travails of the early century, and a possible World War.
The mid-2040s are in certain respects a redux of the two decades following World War II, with new technologies such as designer genetics, that initially are utopian, but ultimately become stressors of the social fabric, and fall victim to the same tropes of history: "golden ages", awakenings and crises, and how humans struggle to hold on to free will amidst struggle.
Some cities have a adopted income-contingent economies whereby prices are in percentages of income, such that rents are 25-30% of last-reported annual income. The idea was utopian but never worked because it disincentivized growth, as people worked less. The contingency system was only an option for people that had high debt levels, with good prospects of a well-paying jobs.
Musical instrument manufacturers have integrated controls that interface with fingertip sensors implants, and Neone has them in all ten digits. Even in 2046 very few people have them, and make them the object of desire by aspiring musicians.
Once implants and sensors became economical they became endemic to society at large, and became a common staple or accessory of life, like clothing or shoes.
Digested and discarded sensor pills collected in water ways and became a pernicious water pollution problem, not from the material itself but the personal data encoded within the pills. A walk along a lake or river was a sea of data in unencrypted chips. As with all technologies, the benefits outweighed the risks (at least initially) until the use became widespread, and the negative side effects could not be easily controlled because the system was complex and intractable.
The Internet has fractured into "Internettes", smaller state-run Internet with "porous borders" that allow for "travel" to other Internettes by Passport only. Black markets of information create a fog of disinformation. Lots of data was lost in the cyberwar, and was reconstructed from personal data sets, and from collective memory.
Music By Algorithm:
Pop music Is almost entirely composed from large databases of sequences of cells, motifs, samples, tempos, moods and so on. Some create entire albums based on search criteria. Musicians are now essentially in the role of database administrator or algorithm jockey. There has been continuous push-back on this for decades, militating against art made purely from confirmation bias, and many musicians still opt to play guitars and acoustic pianos. Beethoven is still widely popular and is in the music database, which has served to perpetuate tonal music.
Art By Algorithm:
Art and Artists created completely by algorithms. Creativity is in the design of the Seeds. Designers tried for decades to integrate empathy into the Seeds, but there was never enough sustainable energy to maintain feeling and empathy, as the energy would dissipate too quickly. While anyone can make neuroart or art by algorithm, the true artist is defined by defiance of algorithm. All the great artists have vehemently resisted pressure from gallerists to produce neuroart, although some artists have fully embraced it, both as a way to make money but also as a form of satire, similar to the pop art movement in the 1960s.
The world 2046:
The aftermath of World War III had left the world depopulated with a number of large U.S. cities uninhabitable. Many people survived and some thrived, building new communities and new economies using new technologies. Since most towns and cities were small, it was easy to scale up a sustainable energy infrastructure almost completely from locally generated solar and thermal, although progress was a patchwork with some areas that were never renovated and became favelas. The inhabitants of the favelas were termed the "peripherique".
Generational mix circa 2040: Octogenarian GenX, Sexagenarian Millennials, 40-something "New Silent", "New Boomers"
Predicting Apophis' Earth Encounters in 2029 and 2036: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/apophis/
Space travel/exploration circa 2040:
The third mission to Mars began 18 months ago and is about to land there to begin to build a colony.
On the heels of a successful joint missions to Mars, the US and China became "sister countries" and created a network of sister cities and states/provinces to foster a free flow of ideas and innovation in the sciences and humanities. Many artists were also scientists and vice versa, and created a new zeitgeist. In many areas, adaptation was the only option, and the spin-off technologies from the Mars missions proved invaluable to these efforts. Studying the harsh environment of Mars had direct application to the more harsh environments on Earth due to run-away climate change.
Animal Intelligence (Uplift):
With uplift of animal intelligence, animals were brought in closer community with humans, and resulted in more epidemics and pandemics. Smart controls were incorporated to ameliorate them but had the side effect of making more system complexity that was even more intractable. Uplift was advancing rapidly with some chimpanzees and some dogs with the intelligence of an 8 year-old child. After one-child policies were instituted in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia, and with most people not wealthy enough for a designed human, they opted for uplifted pets, or well-behaved "perpetual infants".
Thoughts and beliefs can be surgically stitched into neurons, giving the individual thought "seeds" to set brain rewiring in motion. Sometimes pejoratively referred to as the "delusional meme", its promise is that it can artificially build new brain circuitry.
Vision is now a combined system of both direct retinal display and projection onto eyeglasses. Filmmakers are exploiting the possibilities of new POV technologies, with several different vantage points that can be placed on AR layers and blended with organic vision. As they are also very expensive, very few people can indulge in this different type of selective vision. Dr. Stone uses them in his therapy sessions, as he can test for acuities of perception and moods.
Film aspect ratios have expanded horizontally with ultra-wide aspects such as 6:1:
Issues with accumulated memories
Accumulated memories are a problem for immortals, as generations congregate in front of them. Imagine a young Igor Stravinsky, perpetually age 28 struggling to stay relevant with musical revolution. Stravinsky was ahead of his time as a part of the Missionary generation (1860–1882), but imagine such a person living in 2060. It is one thing to come to terms with modernity, and another to repine for young adulthood.
Memory erasures were necessary for some immortals unable to manage large memory archives. In the 20th Century shock therapy was used, but circa 2050, there is "acupuncture for the mind" where there are "trigger points" that are identified and "surgically" removed, leaving short-term memory unaffected. But as with all nostrums, there are safety and ethical issues, as well exercise of free will.
A surfeit of memory created a problem for artists, in that the banal and quotidian (what philosopher William James called the ‘blooming, buzzing confusion) could not be easily managed due to the the sheer weight of nostalgia-- of wanting the good old days back. Immortal artists surmounted this by fusing nostalgia with fantasy, conjuring memories of times when one did not live, and made them up as if they were true, and could then re-experience them.
Memory wipes always had the intractable problem of regenerating through encoded memories, attached to various sensory experiences, smells, sounds and so on. Simply seeing someone that resembled someone else could revive the entire memory chain. Memory erasures never entirely picked up all the dimensions and layers, and this vulnerability was exploited by some who threatened people with "strategic memory restoration attacks" that brought back all the memories and emotions.
Reset by Lee Barry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://resetstory.blogspot.com/.