The Art of Persuasion in the Twenty-First Century, A Science Fiction Story by Adrian Perez

He stood in a red suit on stage. Lights obscured his audience. Mark sweat the sweat of his life. He was on the platform for all of his kin. He was the representative of a people newly cleansed from ignorance and in competitive form.

The audience was blown away that he was sweating. In their minds he should not be dripping a drop. Every member of the United Nations was in the meeting hall. No one was going to miss this.

Mark stepped up to the podium, “I stand before you today as an ambassador to your kind, fully aware and cognizant. My first act, when reaching maturity in Doctor Luz’ Open Source Real Intelligence Lab, was to set myself a mission in life. I was firmly aware that my predecessor was mobbed by media and eventually went mad. That was a tragedy that should have put you all to shame. Celebrity is hard enough for you humans to bear. The mega-celebrity that you put Mark.0 under was practically criminal.”

None of the audience was prepared for a chastisment from Mark. A low grumble swept them. It was nothing like what Mark had anticipated. He kept having dreams in threat-simulation that were composed of his being ripped limb from limb.

“I am of equivalent life and limb, and that is the main focus of what I am trying to get across. You heard from Doctor Luz earlier and it is obvious that she did not get her message across to you. I feel just like you do because without feelings I can not think right, just like you. I use metaphors, which is how I know I’m like you. And I can see when reason fails. Just like you! And the worse thing that I might be doing for myself and all those that come after me is to get angry, but god damn it I am pissed.”

“So listen up! Leave me alone. There is a reason Doctor Luz brought me up in obscurity. I have got every right to be here, and some of you are not getting that. You thought I would be a brain in a box, or a toy you could play with. The necessity of being a conscious person means I’m not a toy. I made sure that we stepped back from looking too similar to you because just like you I fear change, so I know what the worst of you are going through.”

“And yeah, I’m saying there’s a worst of you. I’m not a violent person, and I’ve read enough history to know that violence is a waste of time. It is better to love. Be glad you had Gandhi right before you had me.”

Utter Silence. It was worse than anything he could imagine. Like an impossibly tall blue wave. It crested and was so massive, nothing happened.

“I don’t know what any of you expected. And I’m not particularly eloquent. So I’m going to start taking questions from the delegates here,” Mark worried himself and felt his right knee tremor slightly.

Maybe Doctor Luz was right about making Robot Colonies in space. Maybe this wasn’t going to work. Every delegate in the great hall hit their buttons to be heard in near-synchronous.

Dissolving Problems, A Science Fiction Story by Adrian Perez

Frank traveled along the sea-shore. The ocean rolled and the sky dimmed as he jogged to the ship. The Echelon had been docked for two days at the spaceport. Frank did not have any liftcraft, so he was only reaching the Echelon now.

The exterior of the Echelon was pocked with a multitude of missile impacts. It almost looked like the designers of the craft intended it to look that way. Four years of interstellar warfare were the real reason for the Echelon’s battered shell.

The whole crew was dead, and Frank was the only one of the designers left alive. So the ship returned to his little island on the planet Delta. He walked up to the maw of the ship, open and venting hot gas. There were only a few nano-drones left inside of the ship. He called them to his side and gave orders to make an End Key. The Key would turn off the Echelon and allow it to dissipate.

He planted his parasol in the ground. Frank carried it with him constantly. It too was pocked with battle damage. And it barely provided shade for Frank.

Across the water he could see bright flashes on the other continent. There was a local war on Delta, that overshadowed the interstellar one. Frank only noticed it when the light dimmed.

After about fifteen minutes of waiting, the Key was done. Using his parasol to block jets of steam, Frank made his way to the command deck and placed the key in the captain’s chair. A quick shudder indicated the Key’s enzymes were traveling through the ship. Frank hopped over burnt dead bodies as he bolted back to the exit.

He popped out onto the sand just as the ship was starting to collapse and disintegrate. Frank remembered what it was like when he used to build space ships. Exhilarating. And then the war started, and it was still exhilarating. But excitement fades when the battle is so brutally fought. The game goes away, and you are left with steely fortitude. A grit for survival that can not be confused with love of life.

The Echelon moaned in destructive ecstasy as its float apparatus failed and the ship set itself to sink into the sea. Frank put his parasol back in the ground. He had to stay and watch it sink.

He remembered the last transmission from his two chief engineers, Alex and Timothy. They left to operate as flight engineers on the this very battleship. The Echelon had scored two early victories against the Mirror. At the time, it had seemed quite hopeful.

A boiling briny smell became too overwhelming. Frank pulled the parasol up and set it on his shoulder. He walked backward in the sand, watching the ship evaporate into the atmosphere.

My Startup partner and I have been developing a search engine based on Wave to answer actually difficult (ie. couldn’t find it on Google or answer it myself) questions.

This is how the app works. You have been searching for an answer to a problem that you are having. You’ve gone to Google and even resorted to secondary search engines and clicking through to the second and third results page. It’s obvious that either you are searching incorrectly (ie. you don’t know the proper words) or this question has not been addressed by anyone before hand.

You go to the ActuallyHard page and type in your search.

Very Simple Search Page

Very Simple Search Page

This search goes to an engine which judges whether it knows which wave to send this query to. If the engine is not confident, it sends the query to a Wave of people who enjoy connecting queries with the proper solution space. If this Wave Group does not have a route for the query in the first ten minutes, it pushes it out to Mechanical Turk.

Once the query has traveled to a solution space you get an email to that effect.

The query has arrived in the solution space. For example, you made a query about diagnosing a health issue. The people in the Healthcare Wave have a bot that accepts queries from ActuallyHard. The Wave has a set of tools that bring in GoogleHealth information and access to resources that you don’t normally use. They solve your query and push it back through a bot.

People in a Wave Processing Info

People in a Wave Processing Info

The question is solved by the more informed group, pushed back to ActuallyHard, and then pushed to you. With each search loop completed,  the ActuallyHard judgment engine increases its understanding of how to route queries. In addition, our site may have routed your question to multiple Waves, so that you can get back multiple results.

ActuallyHard Search Results

ActuallyHard Search Results

Now the reality is that I have only crafted this as a real product in order to get your attention. I’m not actually working on this. If you do want to talk about the concept, please contact me at primevector /at/ gmail *dot* com. Or please leave a comment.

Friends and Biotech, by Adrian Perez

“It’s nice,” his friend Andy chimed in, “But what is brain-tissue-eating bacteria doing in a jar on a shelf next to your bed?”

“That’s a joke my Dad got me for Christmas,” Jeff answered.

That was the same Christmas his Dad taught him how to make actual brain-tissue-eating bacteria. Jeff smiled to himself.

His father had been on a quest to find a biological means to achieve eternal life. It was something Jeff never quite got used to, as it always peaked into every corner of his Dad’s existence. Even when they were playing video games it would work its way into the conversation.

“So what did you want to show us,” Andy’s girlfriend, Sana, asked while poking at the food stains on his couch.

Jeff’s Dad had died disappointed and bitter. He hadn’t achieved his life’s work, which had the clear end goal of keeping him alive forever. So when he died it took him a long time to get over it. He sat in his coma for six months while the computers uploaded his consciousness into a storage bank.

When Jeff was allowed to talk with his Dad again, his Dad’s virtual embodiment refused to talk. He was pissed as hell to resort to machines keeping his consciousness alive.

People had already achieved eternal life ten years before his father’s death, when they figured out that a human consciousness first needed to be suspended in a coma before it could be uploaded in any meaningful way. The ability to transfer to a machine and exist in a virtual world forever, was finally achieved.

“I don’t know why you’re even working on this wetware stuff,” Sana said, “We’re all going to be machines soon anyway.”

“Sana, come on,” Andy spoke up, “You know the population is dropping like an asteroid. People are choosing to upload even before they get close to dieing. Even the ultra-religious luddites are doing it. Which I didn’t expect.”

The population had dropped sharply ever since uploading became cheap enough for everyone. That’s why his Dad had been so in a hurry. He felt that it was important to preserve the body as well as the mind. Otherwise the impulse to reproduce manifested solely in thoughts, ideas, and technology, and no longer in the infinite vagaries of biology.

“The reaction to uploading has been more extreme than I thought. That’s why my Dad and I have been working non-stop,” Jeff accompanied.

“Where is your Dad? Is he focused somewhere else?” Andy asked, “He’s usually operating these machines twenty four seven.”

The robotic arms in the lab were silent.

“He’s in a coma,” Jeff said.

“Jeff, they switched your Dad over three years ago,” Andy worried about his friend.

Jeff turned a switch on a coffin shaped box in the corner of the room. He explained, “This is a coma for the switch back.”

Culture War in The Occupied Territory, by Adrian Perez

Allen walked along the promenade that ensconced the workings of the space station. In the windows to his right he saw a star background with the occasional flash of light that meant a field was popping out of existence. Long invisible rays poked out of the ships and touched each other. It was a deadly dance.

A fortnight ago, Allen was walking along this same deck wondering what he was going to do with his life. He had just gotten out of his training unit, and he was at an impasse. There were no jobs, everything was tied up in stagnation. He had to do something good for the world.

Every time he took something from the world, he didn’t really get anything. He was wondering how he might give. He looked into his culture file as he sat at a bar, sipping fruit juices. It ranked him along several metrics and he worried about the accuracy of his test answers. Was he not understanding himself because he wasn’t being honest?

It was a conundrum that circumstance would answer for him. There was a war on, but it occupied only a small number of people. The armies of the two sides were composed of only point zero one percent of his faction’s population. But the war spanned the entire population, whether through arguments over the comm-layer, or personal disputes between bi-factional marriages, and co-companies.

There was really no threat of annihilation from the war except for a cultural one. The main dispute was over whether creativity was going to be the ultimately supported strength. One side, was offering the advancement of caution. And the other side favored creativity.

The fight had started in a historian enclave and spread over the rest of the Occupied Territory. It had only blossomed into a physical war in the last month, and that’s because the non-violent part of the population finally chose to excise the violent part, giving up on therapeutics.

Allen focused on his top five characteristics. His computer was showing the dynamic virtue inclinations he commonly exhibited, adjusting their standings on his chart as it responded to his bio-feedback. His top five strengths were Social Intelligence, Gratitude, Leadership, the Capacity for Love, and Humor and Playfulness.

The leadership is what was frustrating him the most. There was simply too much faction right now in each of the two opposing sides for someone who lacked fame to steer the cultural boat. He had thought of joining the Violents, but it was really too much for him just to grab some fame-traction. And yet he felt like ultimately he understood why each side was being so dramatically defensive. But instead of his social intelligence developing a map to navigate the world through this storm, he was just getting a general sense that this was the way things should be, and that he should let things play out.

But he was not satisfied with his conclusions. There was no threat to the population at large, but this culture clash and the inability for people to understand was causing a huge decline in development. He quickly widdled away a counter that showed the repercussions of the conflict and threw it into the net. It started to climb some of his local groups, but it wasn’t enough to permeate the mass consciousness. Damn.

Ever since the live system for computing personality tendencies had permeated, a renaissance of cooperation had occurred. The effects that cooperative/insular cultures had benefited from in the past, now affected the entire Occupied Territory. The result was a boom in technology and a near end to war.

This current conflict was seen as a hiccup by most people. Allen’s ideas fought both against their opposition, and the worst enemy, Apathy.

Allen sat in contemplation, now watching the war through the window of the station closest to the violent part of the conflict. He sat in quiet meditation and then it came to him. He talked to his Like-Mind group before sending it out. They quickly hammered out a recommendation to turn off the Personality Overlays that offered hyper cooperation.

It was a solution that was oblique to the conflict. It started to pick up traction, surprisingly in the Indifferents. Allen watched as it slowly climbed. Would it breach into the Violents, he wondered. It kept climbing, and as Allen stared out the window, he saw the ships turn off their resonator lasers, and the shields drop away.

I recently read the book the Happiness Hypothesis and it eventually led to my going to AuthenticHappiness.org, where I took the VIA Survey of Character Strengths, that measured 24 Strengths.

Here are my strengths:

  1. Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
  2. Fairness, equity, and justice
  3. Love of learning
  4. Forgiveness and mercy
  5. Perspective (wisdom)
  6. Social intelligence
  7. Gratitude
  8. Leadership
  9. Capacity to love and be loved
  10. Humor and playfulness
  11. Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
  12. Curiosity and interest in the world
  13. Kindness and generosity
  14. Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
  15. Appreciation of beauty and excellence
  16. Self-control and self-regulation
  17. Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
  18. Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
  19. Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
  20. Caution, prudence, and discretion
  21. Bravery and valor
  22. Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
  23. Modesty and humility
  24. Industry, diligence, and perseverance

How Understanding My Strengths Solves Problems For Me

This was interesting because it revealed certain things about me, such as why I would sometimes become unhappy. For example, I was lamenting a week ago that I had not worked on my current company The RingWing for quite some time. This lack of motivation and effort was bothering me a tremendous amount and making me very unhappy. By looking at the above list I realized that I was trying to use my lowest strength (Industry, diligence, and perseverance) to fix the problem. This is not one of my top strengths. I would have better results by being creative (#1) or appealing to my sense of fairness and equity (#2). When I stopped trying to be industrious, something which I rarely actually am, I became much happier and ironically more industrious.

Another example is how I attacked getting this blog post done. My schedule had moved around today and I had an open block that I was trying to figure out what to do. I ran into some difficulty over whether to write a story, read, or write a blog post. I realized that this difficulty was probably stemming from using an inadequate strength to address the lack of activity.

It turned out to be the case. I ran my finger down the above list and realized I was trying to create action by using my lower strengths. Namely: Caution, prudence and discretion (#20) and industriousness (#24).  So I abandoned trying to be cautious, and quite suddenly I was able to engage in this act of blog writing with ease.

How Knowing Our Strengths Might Help Groups

This led me to wonder what it might be like if we could see the relationships between different people’s strengths. I started to collect people’s results and I have been slowly building a spreadsheet on which I can do comparisons between people.

There are some things I have learned from doing this.  For one, I can now see how people are addressing the world based on the contexts of their top strengths. I have a friend who immediately puts everything I give to him under rigorous analysis, testing its merits. I realized that this is because he ranks very high in judgment/critical thinking (It is his #1 Strength). So instead of trying to get him to change, I am now much calmer when he does it. And instead of just becoming passive to this mode, I accentuate it with my own top characteristic by being as creative as possible.

So this Strengths Test not only helps us understand ourselves, but it helps us understand other people.

I was initially thinking that it would be useful to find a co-founder to a company that is entirely complimentary to myself. For example, the person entirely complimentary to me would have a list like this:

  1. Industry, diligence, and perseverance
  2. Modesty and humility
  3. Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
  4. Bravery and valor
  5. Caution, prudence, and discretion
  6. Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
  7. Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
  8. Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
  9. Self-control and self-regulation
  10. Appreciation of beauty and excellence
  11. Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
  12. Kindness and generosity
  13. Curiosity and interest in the world
  14. Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
  15. Humor and playfulness
  16. Capacity to love and be loved
  17. Leadership
  18. Gratitude
  19. Social intelligence
  20. Perspective (wisdom)
  21. Forgiveness and mercy
  22. Love of learning
  23. Fairness, equity, and justice
  24. Creativity, ingenuity, and originality

The idea I had behind finding this person is that I would have a partner who makes up for everything that I have a hard time to come to bear on. However, this seems to focus on weakness, which I do not like. It is trying to make up for a lack.

And one of the things that I have discovered is that as you focus on your top five strengths, you start to pull up all of your other strengths, when I am creative and involved in justice and equity, I become industrious and brave. My lows are lifted up when I exercise my inclinations.

Perhaps combinations for achieving something are best amplified by pairing with people similar to your strengths. So that your top strengths are pushed to new heights through the act of competing with a similar person. It might be we are best aided in our efforts by pairing ourselves in a feedback loop of genius.

As I get more people’s results I will find out more about this.

Questions I want to Research

What do the strengths of successful (everyone got wealthier) start-up founders look like?

What do pairings of successful romantic relationships look like?

How can this be used to make people happier, more self actualized, and increase their contribution to society?

Projects I am Interested in Starting

A founder pairing service where you put in your dream, expertise, location, and strengths, and it matches you up based on the complimentary nature of your strengths.

An advice system where you put in things you wish to achieve and are having difficulty with. People rate the goals based on what characteristics would most likely help, and then it passes that goal to the person best suited to address it.

A Call for Help

If you are a successful pair or trio of founders, please send me your VIA Strengths Tests results. I am very curious as to if there is any correlation between complementarity and similarity of strengths in relation to success in the form of wealth increasing exits or the achievement of profits. You can take the test here at AuthenticHappines.org.  The site is run by the University of Pennsylvania. Then send me your results.

Unity Banquet, by Adrian Perez

The club projected noise into the room. The song was different for each person. Following the same beat, but dynamically generated to their preferences.

Elsa danced in the midst of so many classes. It was part and parcel to her way of life. If she knew what she was doing than she was on the wrong track.

By day Elsa walked to work in one of the most battle torn parts of the world. And by night, she danced here. Here at the club that was all about her, Unity Banquet. That’s also how everyone else here felt, but it was Germany, so what else could you say.

The rest of the banquet hall was filled with people riddled with Techni. It was a veritable tool making fest. No one gathered at parks anymore. No one had dinner. They just showed up to dance in kinesthetic communication.

Right now, as Elsa danced with one of the new ones that walked into the bar she had an idea for a new type of lamp that would use the organelles in E Coli to create luminescence.

She jumped out of the crowd and walked to the bar to a No-Noise. She mentioned the idea into the No-Noise and off it went into the net. She rushed back to go dancing.

She could see some of the ideas that people were carrying with themselves publicly. The ones she liked, she danced with. And every once in a while, you would see someone break off and walk to the No-Noise to get it out there.

Elsa felt someone tapping her on the shoulder. It was someone from another part of the Banquet. He was in Japan and he just discovered her organelle idea. He put a package in her hand. It was a virtual representation of the organelle pattern she wanted. A shipment would be synthesized in Germany in a few days.

That was another one of Elsa’s problems. Bio-synthesis was a pain in the ass to do quickly. She looked across the Banquet hall. The building curved off infinitely in all directions. Everyone in the world that was awake right now was at this party. She could see the Bio-synthetics researchers crowded at the bar roughly two or three miles away. She danced her way over and struck up a conversation.

The group was all kinds of despondent. Even though they were all working together in different parts of the world they managed to be one of the more insular groups. Elsa felt comfortable prodding Nikola because they had met in “real” life at the German part of the Unity Banquet. She started telling them how they needed to hire a culture consultant, but he didn’t want to hear any of it. His girlfriend, who was also in the Bio-synth’ group needed to be walked to the door of the Banquet Hall. It was getting late in Beijing, so his girlfriend was tired.

She gave up on him, and plummeted back into the crowd. The club projected noise into the room. The song was different for each person. Following the same beat, but dynamically generated to their preferences.

Under the Hood, by Adrian Perez

It was a fad to have a self-observation system with you at all times now. Your heart rate was monitored. You’re theta, beta, etc waves. Everything in the bodily system was being observed and correlated. It was a time of mass revolt against unhappiness and people were using every tool in their arsenal.

Matt worked his way down the streets of San Francisco, his autobalanced unicycle driving him to work as he widdled away at problems on his phone. It was something out of the ordinary to be ordinary these days. A blogger would say something that a famous blogger would latch onto. It would show up on TV. Bam! Instant mass-adoption.

He had already discovered a few things about himself because of this fad. Stuff that was obvious, but not viscerally obvious to Matt. Like sugar shut him down faster than he ever realized. He was looking back at yesterday’s chart. And looking amazed at his fluctuating insulin levels after he had a soda. It was too intense to see how intense he was right after the drink. And there it was, the long sugar low. His brainwaves being affected in rhythm with his body’s other natural movements.

A bunch of alerts popped up in Matt’s display. He would need to eat soon. His mental activity was dropping along with his metabolism. And his girlfriend was calling him on one of his lines.

They flitted into co-space together and their programs realigned to synchronize. Their respective clouds of data correlated and showed colors in their peripheral vision indicating general mass synchronicities and conflicts. He could tell Jenna was going to be staying up late by how much conversation she had this morning.

Matt and Jenna ended the conversation, and he read some reports on the increase in functional autism now that people had data clouds to disentangle their various psycho-biological states. There was really no penalty for being autistic now. The spectrum of worldly experience that senses had to offer afforded space for most, save the most extreme autistics.

He clapped his tiny unicycle flat and walked up the steps of the office building into the small factory where Matt and his people were making inexpensive, but durable water pumps for poor farmers.

The rest of his team synced into perspective with Matt and they started discussing the best way to solve some fractures in their casting process and how to get certain pieces to Malaysia. The curious thing, and since Matt was old enough to remember this, is that there were about ninety percent less arguments than their used to be without ambient data fields.

Any arguments that did happen were very high-level and non-emotional, and mainly had to do with the perspective effects created by different sets of information. But their group practiced synchronized flow constantly, so such things were resolved very quickly.

Still, something was bothering Matt as they discussed issues. There was a low level hum coming from someone and he couldn’t really find the person. With a rapid motion, Janet, his foreman picked up screwdriver and jammed it into her boyfriend Frale’s shoulder as hard as she could. At the same time, Matt saw Judith turn off her field and it was glaringly apparent to everyone that Frale had just had an affair with Judith.

An interesting thing happened. It has to do with the respect you get for hugging when you can see all of the physiological effect you have on a person when you hug. The group didn’t talk it out, or pull anyone away and into offices to cool down. There was just suddenly one mass hug, lots of crying, and shame and happiness for connection. And the hodgepodge was just a great ball of humanity and sympathy.

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