Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chapter 6 Footnotes

There aren’t many footnotes for Chapter 6, although it does introduce the central idea behind the plot of Good Cop, Dead Cop, and you might want to stop here if you haven’t read or finished the book.
It would be far more useful if you could capture someone’s instant, off-hand reaction to a new product. But short of creating a race of human guinea pigs you can raise in a box, how do you achieve this?
This excerpt from the fictitious book Quick Thinking, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust my Lizard Brain, is essentially the “Soylent Green is people!” moment, or the point in The Matrix where Neo learns that human beings are essentially batteries.

In the world of GCDC, the disembodied represent the ultimate in distributed computing. Imagine: if you could harness the intellect of billions of disembodied people, you could solve immensely complex problems, but only if you can control the way the question is posed.

For instance in the current debt ceiling crisis (I write this in the summer of 2011), you can ask people one of two questions: “Should the government raise the debt ceiling so that it can continue to spend more than it takes in?” or “Should the government raise the debt ceiling so that it won’t have to pay a higher percentage fee on the debt it already owes?” Both are loaded questions, obviously.

So again imagine that you can control the disembodied, control the information they have, control what they think is reality, and then ask them simple questions and capture their offhand assessments, then you have the wisdom of the masses; you know the story where you ask a bunch of people how much a thing, like an elephant or a car, weighs. Average those guesses and you usually have a remarkably accurate figure.

In the book, Rybold has figured out the power of the disembodied. It might be possible to buy and sell the wisdom of the disembodied, similar to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. And here’s a link if you’re unaware of the reference.

It is Rybold’s belief that soon the disembodied will want more than non-existence. They will want to buy, sell, control, consume and manipulate and that they are at the mercy of the living. Inevitably there will be conflict, but if the disembodied have some bargaining power, perhaps accommodations can be made.

I think it makes a lot more sense than the idea of The Matrix, where people are essentially raised to be power sources. From the infrastructure shown in the movie, I think a lot more power goes into maintaining the living than the machines get back.

She walked to the fenced parking lot behind the building at the corner of 30th and Zuni
I lived in this wonderful building, the Romeo Block lofts. There is in fact a gap between it and the building to the south where my cat Zimbalist escaped one day. It was too small a gap for any adult to get through and too small even for a child. But Zimbalist, who got outside accidentally, was probably chased there by a dog or another cat and wouldn’t come out for several hours.

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