Sliced Pineapple and the End of Democracy

Cake 03 5588

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Behind their recycled carbon dioxide (that’s endangered mahogany to you and me) desk, the ruling alpha pair sit in all their mighty hubris. Behind and above them, a gigantic stained glass window maps their realm: the Grand Liligos Archipelago – once a huge continent.
This minute huddle of islands, due to its extensive shorelines and commitment to wave powered energy production is by far the wealthiest country in the world.

The fact that it produces no wave energy at all is due to having declared its shores areas of special scientific interest, worldwide heritage sites and a critically endangered species. This means all their power has to be supplied by other countries, frequently bankrupting them and causing gigantic debts … handled by the banks of Liligos at crippling percentages.

Alpha one addresses the assembled ministers, “In the last few days Unit A has been an outstanding success with the masses. Popular opinion is at an all time high for us and will secure a seventeenth term of office. We need only to extol Unit A’s virtues, make it quite clear that we are totally responsible for its…”

A minister interrupts, “Well, that’s not actually…”

Alpha two interrupts, “Totally responsible. Thank you, Minister for Science, but we’ll no doubt be asking for your report at an appropriate time for you to speak. We need to make it clear that our not being voted back into office will jeopardise the functions of Unit A and therefore the wellbeing of the people and cause another bout of global warming sufficient to drown those indolent fatties too lazy or poor to afford swimming lessons. It will also threaten the availability of burgers, vodka, wifi, mobile phones and designer sunshades. I think, Propaganda, you need to look into this.”

Alpha one continues, “Well done to you, Minister for Defence, on the fabulous outcome of your Unit A project despite its meagre budget of…” He shuffles paper on his desk.

The minister of finance speaks, “Two trillion, sir.”

Alpha two frowns. “Minister for Science. I do believe you told me twelve.”

That is correct but we’ve been unable to limit…”

So, nearer one trillion then. This is satisfactory.”

The minister for propaganda interjects, “So, we create the most powerful weapon imaginable…” He’s silenced by a glare from Alpha two. She turns it to a smile of amusement and says, “You were saying? Do go on. Actually, Defence, can you take it from there? Minister for Propaganda, you’ll need to translate for any communication to the masses.”

Defence says, “A weapon appearing roughly as a normal human being, quite indestructible, and with an artificial intelligence nearly one million times that of a…”

The minister for science interrupts, “That’s how it started. It is capable of increasing that and all recent indications…”

That’s enough, Science, do be quiet about that but tell us about its recent deployment.”

The minister for education gags and splutters before saying, “Deployment? It escaped! Is that what you are referring to?”

The minister for defence grits her teeth. “It self-deployed…”

Education leans forward and bangs the table with both palms. “And is currently defending the archipelago by showing people how to mend their microwave ovens or helping elderly people across the road.”

The minister for gods speaks up, “And reading stories to children and building skateboards from discarded rubbish.”

The minister for propaganda says, “Precisely. The people lap it up. It fits with gods and prophets and all that stuff. It sits well with my office in that people are happy to have Unit A around and a slow increase in similar units won’t be seen as a threat.” He sits back, smug, arms folded. “Soon we won’t actually need people and they can be phased out.”

Alpha one says, “Defence, can you bring this weapon to heel? I’m not sure it should be wandering around of its own accord…”

Sir, it is collecting valuable data.”

Science groans. “But it won’t talk to us! Every time we get scientists near it, it disappears … poof! … and ends up on another island.”

Alpha two asks, “It’s invented the teleport?”

And goodness knows what else. Somehow it has unlimited access to the internet, has rerouted our entire power grid to operate 22% more efficiently and got the trains running on time. It’s making us all look like…”

Finance cuts him off, “We know what you look like already. There does seem to be a problem financially. The Unit seems to be addressing poverty and…”

Perfect,” says Propaganda, “I nominate myself campaign manager. This is going to be the easiest election ever.” He turns to the minister for gods, “Wouldn’t you say?”

I would most emphatically. Almost certainly by complete accident, Science has produced a miracle here. The defence department has acted in its own expensive and incompetent way and the outcome is power to us. This is unprecedented and probably the result of divine interventions from … some god or another. I’ll look them up. Anyway, it will bring people back into the churches, temples and sacred casinos where we can manipulate them to our bank balances’ content. I fully back any campaign which employs Unit A as its core. I second Propaganda’s nomination.”

Alpha two shouts, “Silence,” as a general hubbub of talk rises and makes actual communication impossible. “I forth it. Any objections or further nominations?”

Yes!” says Finance.

Shut up. Financial outlay should be invisible in an election campaign.”

This is important – honest!”

Alpha one nods. “Spit it out.”

It started two days ago. Unit A found one person hoarding tins of pineapple, something poor people eat, and someone, a cake-maker, had none. Unit A redistributed them in favour of the cake-maker. Everyone was pleased and bought pineapple-topped cake. The hoarder would have been annoyed but Unit A publicly declared what a clever person he was to have foreseen such a shortage.”

Make the point, Finance. I have golf in three minutes. If I have to duck out you’re a dead one.”

The next day Unit A sorted the sixty-year-old problem of our northernmost island and their poor quality water by running a pipe from the eastern island.”

Like the minister for development has been promising for years…”

Alpha two rolls her eyes. “Where is the minister for development anyway?”

Alpha one replies, “Hiding, probably. Anyway, what’s the problem? We take credit. We created the damn robot or whatever it is.”

Finance answers, “It’s not that simple…”

Anything is simple when it works, idiot!”

Let me finish!” Finance yells at Alpha one. In the ensuing silence of horror, with everyone – including Finance – expecting his sudden loss of office, limbs and head, he continues, “Unit A has noticed a surplus in certain bank accounts.”

Alpha two hisses, those ministers still possessing natural hair can feel it standing up, “Pray continue, Finance. We love to hear your voice.”

Unit A is currently rearranging the balance of money so that every person in the world has exactly the same wealth.”

The minister for gods slams his hands on the table, stands and shouts, “Blasphemy! Such behaviour must stop forthwith. Someone tried something like that before and it was controlled by … damn. I’ll look it up. Wait … I think they killed the prophet but made it look like that was the right thing to do. Propaganda, can you get someone to create some ancient prophesies about invincible robots in league with…? they had horns. Goats or sheep probably, something like that. Unicorns? I’m not sure it matters that much.”

The minister for finance says, “This is blatant prejudice against the minority of one percent. It’s … it’s not how democracy works at all.”

Alpha two waves everyone silent. “This can’t go on. Simple people cannot handle wealth. It’s bad for them. We need to protect our population. It is,” she nods to every paled face (all of them), “It is the burden of those who can handle wealth to cope with it despite the inevitable distress and trauma we must endure as a result.”

Propaganda says, “To sum up we have created something indestructible and millions of times more intelligent than us as … as our ultimate weapon. Instead it decides to wander round and be nice to people.”

Alpha one nods. “It’s a thieving abomination! We must destroy this … ah … ooer… Any ideas anyone?”

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©Gary Bonn, 2018

 

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