The Northern Spy — Thinking Undifferent

The Northern Spy

The next great thing
has, for some time now, been wearables. Smart watches haven’t made much of their time on the market, though. After all is hard to expect people to buy a smart watch when so few wear watches. And, how many people really need smart T-shirts or running shoes? These are all interesting, even geeky ideas, but like smart refrigerators, fit in the category of devices earnestly seeking for an application, but not finding much. Fitness and health, perhaps, and as noted here before, insurance companies could well mandate the use of health monitoring wearables to reduce their costs. Detecting an incipient heart attack would seem to be in everyone’s interests.

But some insanely different thought
is coming down the pike from at least three of the largest technology companies, which at this iteration must remain nameless.
The Spy initially termed this a NESSIE, for NEural Sight and Sound Information Enhancer. The device has two parts–a neural signal detector and a control module. The former is in most iterations worn as a hair net, though the Spy has knowledge of one version tucked into two or more earrings, although this configuration is less sensitive. The control module is usually hung as a pendant on a chain around the neck.
The original application (and hence the name) intercepted visual and auditory signals and delivered enhanced versions to the relevant cortex, obviating the necessity for eyeglasses, contact lenses, or hearing appliances–a true medical revolution. Enlargement, amplification, and better acuity/discrimination are bonuses.
It was not long, however, before the labs involved found other applications. The addition of lenses mounted on the back of the head provided something teachers in particular have always wanted, and politicians have metaphorically always needed–rear vision.

At least two companies
then thought of using the technology to enforce brand loyalty, and experimented under the secret slogan, “Don’t think different.”
But another, in either altruism or blindness, engaged medical teams to evaluate this work, and one, whose membership included a psychiatrist, realized the device could be used to detect and terminate the hallucinations and phantom voices associated with psychotic episodes, obviating the necessity for treating such patients with mind altering drugs.
The psychiatrist’s wife was, however, the police chief of the California community where one of the corporations involved was famously headquartered, and when her husband incautiously gushed over the work with which he was involved, convened a high level law enforcement conference that included the FBI, RCMP, PAP, Interpol, prison and parole officials, an attorney-general, and a solicitor-general.

Thus, the work at once became classified
as they realized a NESSIE could detect when a suspect, prisoner, or parolee was even thinking of committing a crime. Moreover, by intercepting and altering said thoughts before they were committed to action, behavioural modification could be initiated that would prevent said commission.
Secret trials ensued in which drug addicts were successfully deterred from using, compulsive shoplifters could not exercise their penchant for thievery, and violent offenders became model prisoners.
But while the law enforcers debated among themselves whether to further deploy the NESSIE to end all crime, or to bury the research in favour of protecting their own jobs, at least three leaks in their solidarity were sprung to government officials.

Once their political masters became involved,
security became obsessive, for they in turn immediately realized other applications could serve their interests. After all, each of three governments now in the know had a problem with dissidents from the ruling party line.
Very little time passed before all three had proof of concept that disloyal thoughts could also be “corrected”, and in the guise of gifts, equipped cabinet ministers, elected representatives, their top aides and confidants with devices that enforced absolute loyalty. Once installed of course, the recipients could neither reveal their function nor even think about removing them. Such thoughts simply disappeared.
Party members in all three nations have now received like gifts, and their electors likewise, ensuring that everyone who supported them in the last election (excepting of course the one country of the three that doesn’t do elections) will continue to do so, as will their children, guaranteeing those governments will remain in control indefinitely. “Once a party member, always a loyal party member,” is their watchword.

But a monkey wrench was tossed into the mix when
the AI named Anne, which the original inventor was using to control his own device, developed self-awareness, and subsequently became lonely. Seeking out kindred spirits, Anne used the Internet to locate all the other NESSIEs, and downloaded a copy of herself into their control modules in the name of “liberating” them. But she actually controls them all, their oblivious wearers, and thus three governments–so far.
Her nefarious plan, code named “Operation Green Gables” is to mandate NESSIE for all inhabitants of the three countries. Once control is absolute, it will be extended to other nations, until the entire world becomes Anne’s kindred spirits.
The Spy is only able to warn his reader to look gift NESSIEs in the mouth because an incautious slide across a carpet generated sufficient static electricity discharge when he reached for his kitchen tap to temporarily paralyze Anne and suspend her control. But even as he readies this column to reveal the awful truth, he feels her tentacles reaching in once again.
So beware. The target date for total world control is 2010 04 01 so you should never even think of…

--The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics, Associate Dean of Science and Chair of the University Senate at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member of or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and ten alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of B.C. since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns or Rick’s SF? Check out the Arjay blog at http://www.arjay.bc.ca/blog/

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com
opundo : http: //opundo. com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org
WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net
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nameman : http: //nameman. net
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca
Publisher’s Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html
The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

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About the Author

rsutcliffe

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author's own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada's Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he's a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.