Friday, December 30, 2016

Generalizations of a Derivative

To whomever finds this: I am the last curator of the prime ARC of Earth. I am 187 years old today, and the last genetic material awaiting transfer.

I wish you well.

-Ang Doc Po


It began in the 1960’s, when two refinery engineers worried about their futures over alcoholic beverages at a bar1 in Richmond, California. The bartender’s2 son, hidden under the counter, wrote into his notebook3 what he overheard. The engineers never learned that their worries were the fuel for the greatest and most secret program on Earth.

The son grew up and became a graduate student at a prestigious University, and a rare triple major in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Philosophy. He, along with two other students, invented a communications technology in his parent’s garage4. In less than a decade their business grew exponentially and they became three of the wealthiest entrepreneurs of the 20th century. Even before the designation of wealth was made official, they perused the faded pages of a child's notebook, and the seeds of the ARC program were sown.

The Founders leveraged their connections across multiple disciplines, and established the first pledge and the first project team. The team was small then, just 100 lesser-known experts across the required fields, and charged with the basic goal of archiving any and all genetic material wherever and whenever it was available. The pledge was as basic and as vague: Collect, Catalogue, Preserve and Protect. C2P2, as it was remembered, was also the name of the prototype automaton built by the first team, and who performed as an “ambassador” reciting the pledge to all new investors.

I suppose it might be difficult to think that a program so immense and complex, which ultimately involved hundreds of thousands of people, millions of acreage and trillions of dollars, could be kept private. In fact, for a time the Founders worried that the ARC program would not recover from the nearly 50% losses that occurred precisely because someone spilled the beans5.

Much to everyone's surprise, the 12th partner in the program was selected for the role of Science Advisor to the new President of [country] [this new President being a historical marker when a powerful fascist government arose early in the 21st century]. The partner successfully but naively argued that by accepting the Advisor role he could ensure the program would have a direct connection to, and influence over, the scientific activities of the military and governmental agencies. But as many psychological studies advise, so much time spent within an anti-science subculture will infect a person regardless of background and stature. One by one nearly half a dozen of the program's branches were compromised.

The contagion was possible because, at the time, each ARC had significant knowledge of its branches and its parent. A Partner with his own ARC oversaw all branches of each investor he brought into the program until a branch was elevated to its own ARC status. We likely would have lost everything if not for the significant air-gaps the Founders added to the program as a fail-safe maneuver when the 12th partner moved into the government office.

Even so, the damage was traumatic. All that was associated with that partner's ARC and branches, including staff and critical supply and communication lines, was wiped out. The investors were arrested and brutalized, and forced to give up their financial holdings [for a short time, they remained as CEO6 in name only of their non-program related businesses]. From that year forward, and for more than a decade, the Founders laid low7 and hid program activities within legitimate businesses while government agencies kept a wary eye and tight control over all large financial and real estate ventures across the globe.

During that period, many more countries became police states in order to deal with environmental changes that were too dangerous to ignore. Being wealthy beyond compare, the Founders were able to bribe their way into any location they deemed fit for a new ARC, selectively choosing those countries whose governments were more lenient. They made significant changes to the program to ensure redundancy and secrecy across all locations. An ARC could thus handle the loss of every branch, and no branch had any significant information or connectivity that could be used to compromise its parent ARC.

In mid-century, and under intense pressure from a new intergovernmental relationship that was focused solely on the survival of the human race, the program goal openly expanded to the tagging and curation of sufficient knowledge matching the collected genetic material, and maintaining the technology and sophistication of artificial intelligences to ensure regeneration no matter what happened in the natural environments.

And this is where I arrive.

I am the second child of the 1st Founder, selected at age three and sent to the prime ARC - the great, great, grand ARC of them all. During the 21st century, the progeny of Founders, Partners and Investors, and eventually of government and military officials, were selected as populace who worked as attendants, engineers, and curators. At a very young age we were groomed for specific roles, and began a lifetime of studies on all the necessary subjects.

We signed the pledge the very first day we arrived at our designate ARC, and every day since we have recited it to ourselves and to each other. Select, collect, catalogue, protect, and preserve the future of humanity. At all costs.

Even with my extensive research, years of digging through the oldest of files in the archives, I do not know where my ARC resides. Nor if it is actually still on Earth. I cannot contact any other ARC to confirm their status, and all my sensors indicate it will be unsafe to begin regeneration for too many years.

I wish I could talk with my engineer and tell him that I remained awake far longer than he predicted. Even so, my body has been repaired too many times, and too many parts have been replaced to the point that the automatons consider feasible without significant loss of the very precious material the program was created for.

It will soon be time to prepare myself for transfer. As the last 'human' resident and curator, I submit this historical outline as a guide to those who may arise from this ARC centuries from now.

1. bar [pub, tavern, saloon] An antiquated social gathering location where patrons bought and consumed behavior-altering beverages. More often than not, such beverages elicited anti-social activity.  [ref history archives: 1-21st century]
  • Note: During early-to-mid 21st century, laws were passed to prohibit such beverages but were soon overturned by a riotous populace (and the beverages were still available through nefarious sources). The police state eventually took over the distribution of all behavior-altering products, as well as the actual preparation of such, changing the chemical balances thereafter to ensure consumer behaviors remained non-aggressive.
2. bartender [owner, manager, keeper] A person who served the beverages to bar patrons. [ref history archives: 1-21st century]

3. notebook A device that required the use of a person's hands to record thoughts, memories, and other information. [ref history archives: 20-21st century]
  • Note: The device was made of non-archival grade materials, including pieces of paper (rice or wood-based), referred to as 'pages' when bound together as a notebook. [ref history archives: 1-21st century]
4. garage An antiquated method of housing a transport vehicle when not in use or being serviced. [ref history archives: 20-21st century]
  • Note: The use of energy in the form of fossil fuels began in the 19th century, and overuse - particularly of carbon-based fuels, was a key reason for the environmental destruction and the sixth extinction event of Earth.
  • Sub-note: Carbon-based fuels typically were comprised of dead organisms from prior centuries, and carbon from humans is likely part of the composition of such deposits (though humans as fuel was considered unpopular into the late 21st century).
5. spilled the beans A colloquialism for having divulged information (inadvertently or with malice) when not specified for such (whether to a particular recipient or for general and public access). [ref history archives: 20-21st century]

6. CEO One of several antiquated forms of status, applying to the leader of an organization (typically non-governmental in purpose). [ref history archives: 20-21st century]
  • Note: In mid-21st century, all pretense of organizational status separate from government was ended.
7. laid low A colloquialism for having reduced one's activities to an imperceptible level. [ref history archives: 13-21st century]
  • Note: Shortly after the compromise of the ARC program, the position of Science Advisor (and related office) was terminated; the 12th partner disappeared and no further entries occur in the history archives.

<word count: 1441>

    1 comment:

    Chris M said...

    I cannot WAIT to read more of your work.