index ... to the 2010's version
by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright June 2016
This is a story taking place in the America of the 2050's. This is a world filled with cyber muses and 3rd generation wearables. Cyber muses are AI designed specifically to interact with humans and inspire them. These wearables of the 2050's can both monitor a person's health in many ways and adjust it by adjusting health parameters such as heart rate and the levels of chemicals in the blood and organs, such as salts, insulin, and many hormones. These monitoring and adjusting health parameters are the primary use for wearables. This is what first drove their being developed. But, now that they exist, other more surprising uses for them are being discovered and exploited.
These wearables that can control as well as monitor will surprise. The first level of surprise is they can help a person with their mind altering -- this is a high tech way of getting drunk and high. The second level of surprise is they can help a person adjust their emotions, too. This is done by controlling the hormones that bring on emotions such as fear, enthusiasm and love.
This is a story about emotion adjusting in the World of 2050, and how it will affect romance. Keep in mind that I'm an optimist. In this story people are controlling their own wearables, not the government, not some sinister covert organization.
This is a story of first love... first love involving commitment, actually, not high school first love or "I'm just discovering" first love. This is about the thinking and rituals which will take the place of the 2010's-style "falling in love and getting married" rituals that are so high-profile in our current days -- the days before these powerful wearables are available.
This is about how it's going to be different in the 2050's. The surprise is: it's going to be a lot more like old-style arranged marriage, only the people doing the arranging are the people getting married, not busybody relatives or scheming families.
All this backdrop explained, on with the story.
Alice and Jane are having a lunch break at Starscents. Alice has something important on her mind and she is opening up to Jane about it.
Alice says, "I'm thinking too much about Hal. The guy is a loser, but I really like him."
Jane says, "Pfft! Your wearables can fix that!"
"Yeah... but I don't want them to fix it."
"That's what everyone says... until they fix it."
"I know that but..." Alice gets a bright idea, "Hmm... What I want is for Hal to fix himself. Then I can screw the wearables... on this topic, anyway."
Inwardly Jane laughs a little, then she says, "A noble aspiration, indeed. But what are you going to do for Hal that his wearables and cyber muse can't? This sounds crazy, Alice."
Alice grins, "Yeah. It sounds crazy. But then again, I'm not the first woman who has wanted to fix a man." grins even wider, "These are modern times... with modern tools... I have to think about this some more."
That said, Alice and Jane both go into zombie mode for a couple of minutes (talk with their internal communicators) then come out and get on with their Saturday shopping adventure.
That evening, while cuddling up for bed, Alice talks to her cyber muse, Rhonda-456.
"Rhonda, what can I do to inspire Hal? I really like him so, but his resume is such a bag of crap these days." She thinks about Hal.
Hal has been trying, trying hard as best she could tell, but fame and fortune, and a steady meaningful job, are eluding him. After he graduated he'd been doing some disaster recovery work for the Forest Service. That's what brought him to Utah. She ran into him again when he was holding down the fort at a day care center that a new friend of her's, Maggie, was running. Maggie raved about how well the kids liked him, and Alice had had a chance to see him in action for about half an hour. He'd been kind, gentle, and really kept the kids interested in their activities. His night job at that time had been working with a high tech incubator startup, but they hadn't got their act together -- turned into one of those many "if at first you don't succeed" efforts. Last month he took on a new project, doing some podcast selling of wedding accessories, and he is once again looking for his next entrepreneurial "try, try again" breakout opportunity. He is holding his own, he isn't mooching, but he is no rising rock star at this point.
Rhonda responds, "Do you want to do that, or find someone with a better resume? That might be easier. I can start looking for you if you give me the word."
"Start looking... but help me figure out how to fix Hal, too."
"I can work on that."
Satisfied, Alice rolls over and heads for sweet dreamland.
Alice doesn't consider herself an ambitious person, but she likes to master things -- complex and meaningful things. She doesn't care much for musical instruments, even though her folks had her take clarinet lessons while she was growing up, but she loves to master science and technology. As a child she loved programming apps a lot more than mastering scales on the clarinet.
This love never faded and because of it she graduated from MIT and now has an important engineering job at Rocket X Orbital in their sprawling facility west of Brigham City. Yeah, she's a rocket scientist now! She is one of the engineers designing the augmented reality environments that train both humans and cyber how to handle the fuels they work with to assemble various missiles Rocket X makes. The actual assembly workers practice in the environments her team constructs before they go real-time and real-world.
But she's not happy with the position. Rocket fuel is really dangerous stuff. The kind she is currently working with -- solid fuel with potassium perchlorate as the oxidizer -- can burn through concrete. As a result what she and her coworkers design has to have the workers learn to be really careful. The result of that is the team has to design in prescriptive checklists for the workers to follow on their work assignments, and they can't deviate from that checklist. Even the robots have their work double checked.
Further result: it's incredibly boring for Alice! Alice determined that after two weeks on the job, and she is now planning on leaving it soon for something just as world-shaking, but a lot less physically dangerous and a lot more interesting. Researching what comes next is part of her evening homework.
In the meantime, she relieves some of the boredom by flying to work. She is part of a flying club and once a week, or so, depending on the weather and her wallet, she flies a small single engine plane from Salt Lake airport, across the Great Salt Lake, and lands at the VIP landing strip at the facility. Once on the ground there, a driverless car picks her up and takes her to her building on the facility.
Again, because rocket fuel is so dangerous, much of the facility is composed of four room buildings with lots and lots of space between them. And one of the walls on each of the buildings is deliberately flimsy so that if there's a big explosion inside it will blow out a single wall, not blow up the entire building.
Flying, yeah! It's neat, and once she logs three hundred hours she can get a commercial pilot's licence. But what she will do with that is not obvious -- most planes and drones fly themselves these days -- but it will be yet another serious skill she has mastered, so she's working on it.
Another serious skill she wants to master is having and raising kids, and this is why she is paying attention to Hal, and if not him, some other man. She could do this solo -- well, with cyber muse help and as part of a baby club -- but she doesn't think that will be the best she can do for her kids. And she is really sure she wants to do the best she can for them. Again, this is another serious skill and she wants to master it, and master it well.
Dinner tomorrow night? There's something serious I want to talk to you about.
She texts Hal Friday afternoon as she gets off work. She's taking the bus, not the plane this time, so this is just part of being in zombie mode while she motors home. But it's first on her list, she's texting this as the bus is rolling out the facility driveway. That out of the way, next comes catching up on news, researching the next job, and doing more app programming coursework. Even with no congestion the trip home takes over an hour so she gets lots accomplished.
The next evening as the meal is finishing, she pops the question, "Hal, can I look at your DNA?"
Hal looks hard at her, and takes a few seconds to answer, "So, this relation could get serious, eh?"
Alice looks hard back at him, "It could."
She explains more, "I feel that producing and raising kids is an important task in my long term goals. I'm going to do it, and I'm going to do it right. I'm talking to you because you may be of help in this, may be -- if you're interested, if you can master the right abilities, and if you have the right DNA.
"I've known you for a couple years now, Hal, so I know your personality. I know you are intelligent and persistent. I know you've been trying to break through but haven't yet, but you keep trying. That's good. And... I like you." she reaches over and rubs his arm.
Hal thinks a bit. He is suprised to hear this. He says, "You're getting started real young. You're only, what, mid-twenties? Why aren't you putting this off for another decade, or two, like most women these days do. ...Winner women, that is."
"Evolution designed us to start much younger. Plus, I want to have lots of kids. I want my DNA spread around."
His face switches to a problem-solving mode look, like he's tackling a tough programming problem. He thinks, then says,
"You could donate to an egg bank."
"I could, and I might. But I worry that cyber-raised kids won't be well adapted to living on Earth. They may do fine in space or on the other worlds, but life on Earth has a lot of surprises. I want my kids to be ready for surprises."
"You could donate eggs to a Neolithic Park."
"I've thought about that too, and I might do it." now she looks at him, a disturbing thought has come to mind, "Are you not interested?"
Hal answers quickly, "No! I'm interested. I'm just thinking about the parameters of the problem you have posed." he smiles at her, and this time he is the one doing the affectionate arm rubbing, "Yes. I'm interested."
She is relieved, "Want to talk more after the show?"
Hal smiles at that, "Indeed, indeed."
They finish eating, call up a car and take it to the concert.
They are pillow talking after the concert.
Alice cuddles up to Hal's side after Hal has had his way with her. She loves these moments. He rests on his back; she is at his side; she listens to his heart while her body deeply enjoys tenderly touching his body all the way from his chest to his feet. Then it's talk time. She lifts herself a bit, rolls on top of him, her legs between his, her chest on his, her face over his, and says, "What I want from you, Hal dear, is the world's best child-raising Dad. Is that something you can aspire to?"
He lays on his back, still in the moment, and answers lazily, "You pay the bills and I get to take the yoga classes... after I change diapers and do the soccer momming? Is that what you have in mind?"
"That and much more. I want you to be researching how to raise our child... our many children, so they are world-shakers. I want them to be in charge of their destiny, I want them to make our world a better place by coming up with new things, things never thought of before, not be some whining Tender Snowflakes who expect to be coddled all their lives, or Social Justice Warrior types who think making the world a better place is 'helping the poor' or atoning for things our great grandparents did. I want them to personally make a difference; personally make our world a better place to live in, and in ways that many future generations will appreciate."
Hal lifts his head to look at her, "You're serious about this aren't you?"
Alice looks back, "As serious as I can get, and that's pretty serious, as you know."
Hal lays back again, "As I do... As I do."
After some sweet silence he asks, "Why pick me?"
Alice cuddles some more, "Hal, I've known you since my sophomore year. We met at a mixer and we... mixed well, right from the start. We both know that first year was something special, for you and for me. It killed me, just killed me!, when you transferred. We were such a great fit!"
Hal leaned over and kissed her lightly, "I thought so too. But I was in community college then and got admitted to UC Berkeley, not MIT... if I was going to advance..." He kissed her again.
Alice kissed him back, "So true, for both of us. And life went on, and while it did those warm and fuzzy memories didn't fade, even though we both got real busy with other things and lost contact."
"Then... poof! You show up again, here in Salt Lake. Wow! Destiny calling? I could sure hear it. And if Destiny is finally calling at the right address, I'm going to open up and let her in."
She gives him a big smooch this time.
He thinks a while before saying more, "What if I get old and fat?"
"Wearables can fix that. And if your's can't fix you, mine can fix what I think about you."
"What if I get lazy?"
This one gets him another serious look from Alice.
"If you and your wearables can't fix that, it's over, we are finished with each other. I won't use my wearables to forgive you being a lazy ass." She says this with dead seriousness.
Hal is not surprised to hear this, he expected it. He keeps thinking, then says, "What if my DNA isn't up to your expectations?"
"Well... first we try to fix it. Try hard. Failing that, I'll create one or two with you, and a bunch with the best we can buy. Sound agreeable?"
"What if your's isn't?"
"I've already checked. It is, but I'll be making some improvements on it, too."
"Mostly... I'm still deciding on that issue." she looks at him again, "Do you have strong feelings on it?"
"I mostly want to be sure you, me, and those kids don't get into trouble."
Alice cuddles again. It's a good answer.
I've authorized you and up to three appropriate apps of your choice to review my DNA.
Alice and Jane are in a food court taking a break from another round of Saturday shopping. Alice shows Jane the message then asks her, "So... do you want to be my first app? You're a gene editor."
Jane smiles back, "That's my job -- which means giving you advice on this would be illegal, immoral and fattening."
"If you edited human DNA." ripostes Alice, "But your job is at that Monsanto spin-off and you edit plant stuff. And I know for a fact that you dabble. Jinx, your cat, is some of your handiwork."
Jane does mock shock, then grins back at that, "So... you're a beauty shop barrister as well as rocket scientist, eh." both giggle at that, "You're right. Let's take a look."
Alice and Jane both do some form filling out in zombie mode. Then get back to chatting while they wait for results.
Jane says, "You know, I've been thinking... You've been making me do that."
"Oh... kids and men."
"The kids part is new, I grant that." she grins at Jane about the men part.
Jane grins back, "Oh, I have my fun. But every so often I think about the future... about every ten minutes, or so. I have ambitions, too, and they are more than moving up a level in my yoga class."
"I know. We wouldn't be friends if we didn't share a lot of interests. So, what are you thinking about kids now?"
"Well, I'm wondering how much personal effort I want to put into mine, and when to get started on it. You've made me think. I was going to wait until my career was near finished, then top off life with some child caring on my DNA handiwork. I was... but you've got me thinking now."
She pauses and thinks, "But if I start earlier, I'm wondering how much I can hand off?"
Alice answers quickly, "A whole bunch if you want to. Hal pointed out to me that you can donate eggs, and there are plenty of cyber raisers of all kinds available these days."
Jane nods, "You're thinking hard about expenses. I'm thinking hard about life balancing."
"If balancing lots of things is an issue, you may want to check with Melanie, your muse. Muses are real good at balancing things issues."
Jane doesn't have a quick answer to that so both take some time to get some food down, and while they are doing that the DNA results come back and both Jane and Alice peruse them.
Alice says, "...He's looking pretty fine." she laughs a little and points at something in the report, "I see why he has such a good head on his shoulders."
Jane is looking it over too. She points at something else and says, "Hmm... I'd watch out for that."
Alice looks, "It's not going to be perfect, and that's editable."
"Yeah... depending on how much you want to spend." Jane adds to that thought, "Speaking of which, how much do you want to spend?"
"Well... this raising business has lots of expenses to balance, and I'm not having just one, so there will be a limit."
Alice frowns a little and sighs a little as she thinks about the expenses, "Man... how much simpler it was in the good old days. Just let a man screw you, take what comes out, and let him do the paycheck producing."
Jane laughs at this, "Yeah, the good old days... in those old-timey movies. I'm sure happy that I'm in control of my life."
"Yeah, but you sure have to think about a lot more things these days."
"And your cyber muse helps you do it. Speaking of... have you consulted with Rhonda about this expense balancing business? Like you pointed out, that's something she should be real good at."
Now, back to this DNA. Anything else to note about it?"
The girls go back to perusing the report.
Alice and Hal are together again. Alice is being sunny and cuddly, all-in-all she is real happy with Hal's DNA report. But this time Hal looks uneasy.
He finally lets loose with what's on his mind, "Alice, I've been given another opportunity."
"Opportunity to do what?"
"Marry someone else."
This is a jaw-dropper for Alice. She looks at him but has nothing to say, Hal goes on, "I've kept myself posted on the marrying sites -- just in case, you understand. And... someone really interesting has been in touch."
"Just how interesting." growls Alice.
"She's one percent of the one percent." replies Hal "You have likely heard of her."
"Who is it?"
Hal thinks for a moment; thinks for another moment. Then sighs, "I guess I can tell you. If anything comes of this you'll surely hear about it. It's Miley Kardashian."
Alice is shocked, "Her? She is such a bitch! How can you fall in love with her?"
"I agree. God what a personality! ...But that's what wearables are for."
"I sure hope you have an ultra max setting on your's. You're sure going to need it."
Hal holds up his hands, "I haven't made a choice yet. I'm just considering it. It could be a hell of an opportunity."
Alice cools down a bit, "You're right on that, Hal. It's quite an opportunity... and so out of the blue! If I may ask, what in particular does she see in you?"
Hal grins, "She says I have a good head on my shoulders, and she likes my auditions."
Alice grins back, "Isn't that what she told Boi-Zed six months ago?"
Hal grins even wider, "It sure is, and that's why I'm not taking her inquiry too seriously. But, I admit, I was sure surprised to get it."
He reaches out for her hand, "Your's, on the other hand, I'm taking quite seriously. I've been doing a lot of research on child raising classes. It's something I can handle, and it looks rewarding.
Did you have a chance to look over my DNA?"
Alice remembers the proverb she heard her grandma mutter every so often when she came visiting as a child, "Men! Can't live with 'um, can't live without 'um."
She smiles back. It takes a moment, but she gets cuddly again, "I did, and I liked what I saw."
index ... to the 2010's version