Wednesday 2013-10-23

Nexus by Ramez Naam

Twenty years into the future, most countries are trying to contain grass-roots intelligence augmentation. In a spirit borrowed from a 1960's expand-your-mind-set, the countercultural youth lead the way as several young hackers harness the nano-structures of a street drug (think ecstasy with telepathy added on) to turn it into a computer in your brain. This leads to booting an OS on the drug's hardware (with nano-wifi) that your brain can directly access.

Which puts them on the bad side of the Emerging Risks Directorate of Homeland Security after the ERD gets wind of their developments. Unfortunately for the ERD, all the smart people are on the other team.

Say you were different from most of the people around you, and while there were probably others like you out there, you all wouldn't stand much of a chance in the face of concerted genocidal attack like rwanda, bosnia, cambodia. Would you advert your differences to many people?

1. You could engineer interactions where people were uncertain about the (un)augmented state of other people, and rig the incentives for everyone to work together.

2. You could shepherd your talents and use them only when it's difficult to say whether it was luck or skill, i.e. hide them in plain sight.

3. Or you could use humanity's adoration for the charismatic and the wealthy, all the while building out your support systems, and saying 'nice doggie' for as long as it takes....

Choosing the latter seems strange; it's not like it's hard to figure out what unaugmented opponents want and how they get things done. Why make enemies when you can make loyal friends?