Author: Dylan Otto Krider
We had a problem — and by “We,” I meant for the people who make the decisions which, in turn, meant for the people who funded efforts to elect the people who make decisions. The problem was this: How do you leave the plebes with nothing, and yet still have enough to transfer upwards? Which was, after all, how the people who had things got them.
The solution came with the inventions of the Metaphors, which could run simulations on every conceivable future. Climate simulations did very well by then; so much so that when someone said, “It’s like predicting the weather,” it meant with absolute certainty. People, it turns out, aren’t so very different. In recessions, they blame immigrants, like El Niño spawns more hurricanes. Combine Big Data with what we know about mass psychology, and you could manipulate society to get you from here to there – provided you had the money.
Only the rich could pay for some time on the Metaphors. Only the well-connected had the press and hired trolls to spread their memes. Only the crème de la crème could run a simulation seeing if their tactics were working.
The thing is, being a person who had things meant not be happy with what they have. No matter how rich you are, you want about 15% more. The inventor of the Metaphor, Farid Jedan, had more things than anyone else on the planet. So, he programmed the Metaphors so he was the one who came out on top.
But he always wanted more — to be precise, about 15% more than he had. So, when the Metaphors predicted he was at a breaking point, he pushed just a little further — as I said, people are as predictable as rain — and Jedan made himself the first President of Earth.
But something was wrong.
The simulations only calculated possible futures — say, if nuclear war made humans extinct, no simulation could calculate a future with humans in it — and every choice he made narrowed his possible futures. He installed his own leaders, which narrowed the future, and passed every law he wanted, which did the same, until every simulation predicted unrest, uprisings, usually ending up with him assassinated, imprisoned, or exiled, and all his wealth being redistributed.
He ran simulations on if he gave the populace guaranteed income, gave everybody jobs, taxed himself 90%… But it was too late. The populace no longer believed his paid media. They no longer believed the government could fix their problems. Most of all, they hated him.
There was only one probable future that was satisfactory to him: he would have to retire, donate all his trillions to charity, leave himself a small sum to live off for the rest of his days on a small island in the Caribbean. But, in a few decades after his death, there would a revisionist movement, re-examining his tenure on Earth. It said that although a bad President, he became quite the philanthropist is his later days.
His children were already vying for his fortune by then. His third wife, who was half his age, was waiting for him to die already, and his health wasn’t doing so well. He figured he had a year or two left.
You reach an age where it’s all about posterity, anyways. In his final days, with no time left to spend, and no time left to enjoy it, he donated his entire fortune. That was as maximized as his self-interests could get at that point, so, he took it, and died without regrets.
An intriguing piece built on some uncomfortable underlying truths/trends.