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Monday, April 6, 2009

A Day in the Brain Crime Tract

A beautiful island shore shining in the orange of the setting sun, the soft sound of waves. Strangers to the scene might have figured the two men sitting on the beach were on vacation. The holographic imagery, however, was an eternal sunset, and the sound of waves becomes very repetitive after a while.

Prisoner 1: “Happy to meet you, it was getting quite boring alone in here.”
Prisoner 2: “They never change the scene?”
1: “Perhaps once a month. If you show good behavior.”
2: “Still, this has got to be one of the better tracts.”
1: “Right. Brain crimes are considered a lesser crime still, I guess.”
2: “Definitely so. Since when have you been here?”
1: “Five months twenty something days. I’m getting out here in another half year, if things go right.”
2: “What did they get you for?”
1: “Copyright infringement, that’s what they call it.”
2: “What did you do?”
1: “I had a couple of thousands subscribers to my brain channel. You know how they offer brain chip owners to connect to a micropaying audience?”
2: “I think I heard of that.”
1: “Yeah, so I had been streaming my thoughts for two years already, anything from smell, to vision, to lyrics and stuff...”
2: “You’re an artist?”
1: “Hmm, you might call it that. Artist, author, reporter... now this one day, I got a letter from the Moon Trio Band representative.”
2: “Never heard of them. Are they popular?”
1: “Not on this planet, but I was a fan so I had quite a few of their tunes in my head. It’s really tough to not think about anything copyrighted during my brain streaming sessions, and sure enough, I had, perhaps subconsciously, whistled a tune of theirs.”
2: “They got you for that?”
1: “Yeah, they said it infringed their rights, hurt their sales and stuff, and they could prove I had been reusing their songs for a couple of shows now...”
2: “Ouch.”
1: “Yeah. It was one of the first cases of this kind, but the payments I had received from my audience definitely counted against me. It was a quick process, and I don’t think the algojudge understood the issue in the first place.”
2: “Like an algojudge ever would.”
1: “You’re right. Useless bots, all they know are past laws, sure as hell need an update. What are you here for anyway?”
2: “They got me for one year straight. Hey, does this scenery ever change? Will they ever make a dolphin jump around here?”
1: “Never saw one, no! You can ask for the background music to be muted though.”
2: “This could become boring very quickly. So... well, I was leasing parts of my brain for mass computation farms.”
1: “I heard of those. What’s that like?”
2: “Well, you just tell them what share of your thought activity you’d like to offer, give them your times of the day and so on. I was opting for a twenty-four hours, ten-percent package, just to give it a try. The pay is pretty good, and you won’t be really bothered by it.”
1: “They send you computation jobs? All day long, that’s not annoying?”
2: “They only send low-level stuff, simple questions, image comparisons, guess the tune, identify an object, stuff like that. Sometimes they just send a photo or taste and measure your emotion. It starts to be like background noise, your brain learns to blend it out after a while, well, consciously, anyway, and you basically never see the whole picture. You’re not supposed to, anyway. That’s what got me in trouble.”
1: “What happened?”
2: “They make you sign all types of nondisclosure papers, like, you’re never supposed to talk about the jobs you’re computing. But this built up lots of pressure over time... guess some things do creep into other parts of your brain, after all.”
1: “You ended up talking about the jobs?”
2: “Yes, to my girlfriend. She’s a nice girl, I mean... it’s not her fault. She’s doing part time crime supervision. You know how you can volunteer for special brain chips that tap your eyes and ears to help the police against terror acts?”
1: “Sure. Heard of that.”
2: “The rest, she pretty much didn’t even have to report me, it was all routine after that. The irony is that when my trial started, she got herself caught, too, for improper fantasies...”
1: “An illegal dream?”
2: “They never told me what she was thinking of. Don’t know, perhaps killing her boss or something. She didn’t want to tell me, either. And now I’m ..."

A bell sound disrupts the scene, and an announcement echoes through the room. Two small robots enter with plates. “It’s eating time,” prisoner 1 says, “Same nutrition pill everyday, but you best convince yourself you like it... on this island, that’s all we get.”


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