Monday, October 14, 2019

Subscribe or Die

As she stood in line, waiting for the customer service representative, Reborna scanned her eyes across a brochure that had been handed to her right upon her entrance into the building. Presently, she saw a red box in the brochure that filled an entire page; centered within it were the bold black words SUBSCRIBE OR DIE.  
“Next please,” said a tall man in an exquisite suit, standing behind his desk. He gestured with a hand wave after Reborna took her planted eyes from the page and looked up. She quickly walked to the desk. “Welcome to Posthumous Digital.” His broad smile nearly contained his molars. 
“I – I was told that you do immortality here?” Reborna glanced at the brochure, unsure of herself, lacking a full understanding of the process she was about to get into. 
“And you’ve heard correct! What package did you have in mind, dear – I should say right off, we’re doing a promotion, a two-for-one for any family members who share at least a 25 percent chromosomal equivalence.” 
“Just me, today.” Reborna didn’t have a family member who would meet that criterion. 
“Well, not a problem all. If you’ve chanced to look in the brochure, then you know we’ve got you covered 200, 300, and even 500 years after your biological death. But it gets better: if you get the 500 Year Posthumous Package, you’ll qualify immediately for 50 percent off – should you die within the decade… Limited time only, you see.” 
Reborna didn’t have plans to die within the decade. “May I ask some questions, first, sir?” 
“Certainly, you may. In fact, we encourage it here.” Another massive smile split his face. 
Reborna had endured sales pitches before; even so, her confidence grew out of her frustration, for the man spoke so flippantly of biological death. He embodied the ‘salesman’ attitude. After all, not everybody could afford this service she was enquiring after. Was this not a solemn fact?  She smiled back anyway, “Do you offer anything beyond 500 years?” 
He studied her for a moment. “Our clinical trials have had little success in indicating the mental and material stability of our clients’ code any time greater than about 550 years… With such inherent risks involved thereafter, it requires a bit of a lengthy application process and its subsequent approval—BUT, there are options.” He began scribbling onto his terminal screen before she said a word. “Would you be interested in seeing them?” 
“No, that’s quite alright. I was simply curious, and sort of asking for someone else,” She wasn't asking for anyone else. She placed the brochure on the man’s desk, pointing her finger at another garish advertisement, which read, STATE OF THE ART CLOUD SERVICES. “But I was curious about this. I’m wondering about the cloud you offer. Don’t I pay taxes to have my digital information backed up into the government’s central system anyway?” 
“Yes, you do,” He paused, reached into his desk, and put a piece of blue paper in front of him. As if reading from a makeshift cue card, he continued, “You see, the problem with centrality as seen by the current state of governmental affairs is that risk of data loss or data corruption is 37 times more likely in the State’s hands, than the hands of PD. If you’re interested, I’ll zap on over to you our studies proving this and the other documented statistical evidence regarding our safety as compared to the state—as well as to our competitors.” 
Reborna was impressed by the man’s thorough presentation and pitch. Yet the representative resumed before she could reply. “Because of the recent breaches into the State’s tax-funded cloud, of which there have been many, we’re providing this service as a failsafe and, hopefully, as an alternative to the citizens’ cloud-based backup of their digital information previously offered only by the State. You can be rest assured that our state-of-the-art digital cloud will contain every bit of conscious information, as well as the fully digitized replication of your genome, to make your reconstruction as accurate and precise as the physical limits of our universe so far allow. Your deceased body is safer in the corporate body. 
“Wait,” Reborna turned to the back of the brochure. “I’ve noticed that some of your subsidiaries have also been breached by other corporate giants. Wouldn’t this suggest that your data structure is not as robust as you claim?” 
The man didn’t so much as blink at her words. “Our signature Posthumous Paradise is so rendered as to provide our clients with the most rigid and impregnable data structure to date, reinforced and protected to the picosecond. Our code was designed by the brightest human minds and most advanced artificial intelligencecombined of course. If you’ve not heard of Posthumous Python, then you’ve not heard of any digital device so far manufactured, as they all involve some aspect of the framework we’ve devised: it is without a doubt the most reliable software language the AI-symbiont-human mind has created yet.”  
Reborna was intrigued, and dare she say, sold. But before she could get on board with this program she had to know: “My son, he’s only 127 years old, and I worry about him. He was adopted, and so our genetic information prevents me from using some of your family services—”  
“Your worry can stop right there, dear. We at Posthumous Digital understand the bonds of human connection are deeper than and without biological warrant. We have contrived of a contract, after much bustle with the State, to allow the consent of another human consciousness should it wish to be tethered to our client's. In this case, your son, with his complete informed consent and participation in the approval process, can join you in up to five of our standard cloud paradises. How does that sound? Plus, we can always send you two of our simulated clouds as part of our trial period. You need only plug it in to the PD Hub, but we can talk about that later.” 
She could barely contain her excitement. “Oh, that’s wonderful, truly,” Reborna then put her hand over her chest. The biological beating of her heart pulsed through her palms, which began palpitating in the problematic manner she had become accustomed to. Perhaps she would die within the decade. Her doctors didn’t think so. 
Reborna’s mortality had never been more salient. It was not because of the palpitations. It was because her hope was rekindled by the man and the words that flowed from his huge smile. The thump-thump of her heart took on a new pattern as she imagined the newfound possibility to be with her son for longer—maybe forever. She saw it on the brochure, again and again. She smiled. 
He had been looking down and scribbling more on his terminal screen. “So, dear, what will you be doing?” 
“I’m choosing to subscribe… right now, and I want to consider the application process for my son. But before I do, I wanted to look into your options for eternity.” 
“You know we don’t have time for that.” 
“No, I mean your Posthumous Eternity Package, here.” She pointed again to the brochure, at a smaller box on the bottom of the final page. 
He chuckled to himself. “Excuse me for that, dear. I can absolutely make you a member now, but as for our Posthumous Eternity Package…” He leaned in as if to tell Reborna a secret. She did the same. “That’s in another department.” 

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Subscribe or Die

As she stood in line, waiting for the customer service representative,  Reborna  scanned her eyes across a brochure that had been handed t...