As large governmental bodies, like the military employ consultants from the private sector to improve efficiency (in administration, procurement and service delivery), and as corporate culture seeps ever deeper into the marrow of our daily work lives, I cast my mind a little bit ahead.
This is nothing more than a thought experiment. Some play time with words and ideas. It will tie directly into the common universe shared by all of my novels, short stories and RPG.
Step into the cyberpunk frame. Karl Brubaker. 44 years old, a Rank-5 executive within Akinola-Odusola. Direct business rivals would be INFORG group and Batron. Indirect rivals would include the Carthew Alliance but this does not preclude doing trade with them.
Akinola-Odusola has a reputation for parity within the intelligence and data-security sector.
Karl has a new heart. Indeed, the majority of his damaged organs have been effectively replaced over the last 5 years through use of a licensed GeneTwister compound that stimulates regeneration in targeted areas. GeneTwister is not cheap. It’s been designed to allow a vast range of configuration, increasing the reach of marketability and maximizing profitability for the bio-tech companies that produce it. As a Rank 5 employee, Karl enjoys an organic health program as part of his contract. This is more about ensuring sustained performance from key talent rather than anything about personal happiness.
Even Karl’s various cybernetic implants, enhancements to memory storage, retrieval; reflexes; bone strength (he often travels up to orbit and out to the Moon and Mars); and to his optic and audio senses are all covered by Akinola-Odusola employment policies, as well they should be, all of his implants are A-O products.
He has a small apartment overlooking the financial sector of New Tokyo, owned by A-O. Buying a place of his own is not an option. Only the very wealthy own property these days; most housing belongs to co-operatives that themselves are owned by a corporate sponsor keen to keep hold of physical ground space. Abrupt mass-evictions to make room for a new development are commonplace. Growing roots and settling down is something old people used to do.
Today Karl is reviewing the operational performance of the UK’s QB-4 Battle Unit, currently on long-term deployment within a part of the former Middle East, part of the ongoing (and never-ending) conflict that rolls along beneath the umbrella of Operation Metal Hammer. QB-4’s commanders are displaying an abrupt 13% dip in the metrics used to monitor iQeM (initiative, Quality, efficiency, Moral). Karl’s task is to review available data, AI-analogies, commentary and then make an assessment of the situation, providing reasons, supportive data and recommendations with measurable deliverables. The commanders of QB-4 might be fucking up their tiny part of the war but it was Karl’s problem to fix it.
Karl’s office is more of a social hub. There are desks and chairs in a communal area but the few rooms are for meetings – still important despite the advent and proliferation of fully immersive virts (a digital construct that can appear to be as vivid and tangible as real-life, into which users project their conscious awareness through the use of hardware called cyberdecks).
The flash warning about the dip in performance appeared within his field of vision. Projected by his synaptic bridge implant. However, he chooses to review the vast bulk of information, now pouring in through the company network, on the hardscreen currently sitting angled on his desk. There were various forms of user interface. Almost as varied as the diversity of human taste. For Karl, he liked the touch and feel of a ripple-board which he carried around rolled up in his pocket ready to use when the need to type anything arose. Voice-rec was something he did only when talking to a piece of AI-emulation, like his demon.
Everyone had a demon. Not some supernatural entity that could tear through prayers as much as flesh to take physical possession of your body and soul. Demons lived on your PA or bigger computer devices and were the buffer between the mountains of real-time data feeds streaming in from every node-of-interest Karl had ever activated. They made intelligent decisions based on months of awareness-configuration; they knew when it was important to advise their master and when to remain silent. They fetched, they carried, they delivered. Without his demon Karl’s brain would have imploded years ago.
Data and analysis was real-time, even predictive sometimes; responses involving humans always slowed the process down. But to err was human. And Karl was thankful of that.
At some point he would need to contact the commander’s currently in his field of scrutiny. They weren’t friends or even associates so their phone tags weren’t enabled within his PA or ear-clip. However, as QB-4 was part of an Akinola-Odusola contract, the social networks of the commanders and all troops assigned to the Battle Unit were open to A-O’s semantic analysis suite. Such analysis ran permanently in the background. Karl just had to adjust the spectrum of filters. Voice-prints of anybody using electronic devices, from PAs to cyberdecks and full workstations, were sampled and updated regularly by the corporate AI; years worth of video uploads and moments when comms were left running during off-hand comments and private moments provided invaluable resources for accurate pys-valuation. Also called privacy snooping by anti-UTOC campaigners, but Karl always viewed these people in the same light as Anti-Globalisation Protesters from the decades before UTOC (United Table of Commerce) started to get governments and nation states to sign the Fluid Investment Medium.
The fact QB-4 personnel used a plethora of social networks and electronic devices, separate and distinct from the business systems used by Akinola-Odusola made little impact on his research. Ad-hoc machine to machine networks and co-operation had been possible for years. It was the same whenever he walked into another office building, or sat in a transport module sweeping along cables strung between pylons all across New Tokyo, or when he went to a restaurant or watch a live performance or attend a sports arena – anything from the local temperature, air-con, lights, through to ordering supplementary services was possible through his PA. Because his PA, a device small enough to fit into the palm of his hand, could literally talk to any other machine and network, and provide some kind of interface for him to interact with. Often his Demon made adjustments for him based on previous preferences. And because his PA was connected to his synaptic bridge implant and the WAM, he could actually made any sort of adjustment without moving his hands. Thought alone, had the power to make machines do his bidding.
But who really controlled who? He wondered sometimes. The amount of background intelligence on people and things was staggering. Running for the lifespan of an individual, access to such data gave the deepest insight possible into psychology, motivation and issues.
Like Akinola-Odusola, most employers now ran deep scans on the servers of social networks and businesses signed-up to share such information through corporate agreements. An off-the-cuff remark made by a person in a bar, ten years earlier, about a particular race or religion, could have been overheard by anybody with an active audio-function working on a device… such things are always listening. Voice-prints could dredge up such unfortunate statements and pin them to a potential employee’s identity, to remain there forever.
Interesting to note the development and rise of personal white-noise generators exploded after Google launched the first raft of wearable eavesdropping devices in the first years of the century.
Karl sat forward in his seat and studied the text coming up highlighted in red on the angled hardscreen. Commander Jane P Ludrow had just come back from leave – her husband’s regular credit card pattern had shifted a few weeks earlier and he was now no longer living at the Battle Unit accommodation block. A convergence of spending over this same time period, with different venues, showed him in the company of another woman – a medic. This woman had not appeared at work or made any activity on her social networks since the day before Commander Ludrow had departed the UK at the end of her leave.
Commander Ludrow’s performance had thus far been exemplary. She was a good solider but more so, she was a productive asset. Karl scrambled a mid-level DOC-team from the pool of specialist staff that rotated through Akinola-Odusola’s legal department. Denial. Obstruct and Cover. It wasn’t so much Commander Ludrow’s liberty that was at stake, more the ensured growth of Karl’s performance metrics.
Somewhere in Akinola-Odusola, somebody’s Demon was listening in on active feeds about him.
If you like this, you might enjoy the novel Iron Man Project which covers the concept of UTOC and corporate alliances using private armies (from street gangs paid to do damage through to ex-special forces hired for surgical hits), and introduces the business cult The Power of Eight Group. You may also enjoy my thrillers set in the near future or post-apocalyptic dark fantasy – click here to learn more.
CREDITS: Amazing artwork by El-Grimlock and by Maciej Kuciara.
From Yellow Dawn Primary Rulebook – 2.5
Akinola-Odusola – Corporate Profile
Industry leaders of weapon-manufacturing and security services.
An exceptionally powerful corporation, pre-dating Yellow Dawn, with tendrils of influence wrapped around the highest levels of UDP and UTOC decision-makers.
Notably, they developed a hacker-proof communication medium called QTP266 (Quantum Transmission Protocol) which continues to remain unbreakable and is the pinnacle of secure communication. However, Akinola-Odusola only provide (sell) QTP266 to companies that give them a strategic voice at company Board level.
Most high-ranking Akinola-Odusola operatives have an advanced neural net access running off the QTP266.
Before Yellow Dawn, under the steerage of the Chairman Francis Reznor, Akinola-Odusola had become one of the world’s largest private equity funds, with over 190 billion worth of investments in defence, nanomech, manufacturing, telecommunications, robotics, non-biological social structuring, healthcare and finance. Francis Reznor was also the UTOC Secretary for Global Asset Security – and very close to the deeply corrupt UTOC president Mikkel Hoffman.
Following Yellow Dawn they consolidated surviving resources and focused on manufacturing hardware and providing physical security to private and public entities.
- CEO: Octavio Stieb
- Chairman: Marla Strama
- Headquarters: Moon orbit; Václav colony: administration and executive facilities only.
- Other locations of note: Primary manufacturing plant in New Tokyo industrial zone, the vast Eutropius Facility; purpose-built and heavily fortified compound – also contains a huge private army, training grounds, barracks; airfield that can also launch orbital craft
- Key technological developments are: QTP266 secure communications protocol; offensive pulse weaponry; flash armour (via DermaTron)