Under the Hood, A Science Fiction Story

October 3, 2009

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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