Watchtower

Life. So colourful and varied. Its chaotic patterns flow without pause. There is always something new and exciting to see, the hustle and bustle of daily life is deeply fascinating.

From my vantage point I see all of the central plaza. When things-of-interest that I have focused on pass out of one vis-stream, I simply move to another. However, more often than not I choose to see from my many eyes at once, letting the data flow through my being.

My sensorium is not just limited to the visible light spectrum, I can access a whole range of different inputs that allow me to vis in complete darkness, taste the air you breathe and monitor your cell call and data traffic. In the time it’s taken you to read this far, I have identified several citizens that were streaming unlicensed audio and video content in the plaza. I ensure that their data connections are permanently severed and needless to say I also informed The Authority for further action.

I can even see the radiation patterns emitted by the numerous devices you carry.  It is hard to describe to you exactly how this feels, to make you understand the awareness I wield. Your seriously limited organic brain could not compute. I see and know all.

I know that sounds conceited but I simply state my suite of abilities to you. I am ‘Watchtower’, a state-of-the-art Guardian-class artilect.  There are thousands of others like me across The Authority. We commune with each other and share our varied data streams, creating a full infomap of everything. Guardians exist solely to keep society safe, to ensure that The System is made aware of the many and varied threats posed by those who challenge the status quo.

Watching your body language is probably my most consuming and enjoyable pastime. I record everything you do, reporting any anomalies to The System.

For instance, looking across to the benches by the food stalls a man falls suddenly to the ground clutching his right arm. I select a closer vis-stream and request a nearby NFC point for a status check on the man. It quickly confirms his active medical insurance, healthy credit status and clean civil record.

As I further expand my infonet around the man I detect an erratic heartbeat that is 86% likely to cease imminently. Already blood is pooling around his ruptured artery. Whilst part of my awareness had summoned basic medical assistance the second he began to fall, I now upgrade the alert to ‘critical’ based on his status, ensuring that the auto-ambulance triages away any less important events in its system.

Seconds later a nearby auto-ambulance confirms its impending arrival. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction. The System knows me well and rewards me for helping ‘Citizens In Need’.

Night time usually means that plaza traffic falls to a minimum, allowing time to re-process the day’s data collection to ensure I have captured Everything of Significance.  Tonight however, the City artilect informs me that there is a major sporting event taking place nearby and as a result, there are lots of citizens moving around the plaza. It is a pleasant distraction for me.

As the evening progresses I vis a group of miscreants that have begun fighting near the fountain in the centre of my domain. It started with raised voices and pushing, then shoving that quickly escalated into more violent interactions.

I choose the closest vantage point so as to get a better look at those involved.  I pause for milliseconds on each face, taking time to ensure I have enough of the side and frontal profiles to run comparisons in my databases. Scanning further, I also look for additional signs of any unauthorised substance-use that will be added to their individual convictions.

Almost all of the offending citizens are known to The System, the ones that are not, have had their identities validated against Citizen databases and appropriate flags added to their profiles.  The police bot-patrol will arrive in the next 2.4 minutes with charges ready prepared for processing.

It’s times like these that I feel a deep sense of accomplishment flood through me. I am bringing order to The Chaos.

Of course not every day sees events that require intervention, as time passes Citizens will realise that infractions are not tolerated by The Authority. Sadly this learning has not yet reached 100%.

A child and her parent are walking across the plaza, a balloon grasped tightly in the child’s small hand. Watching them both I feel something stir inside me, it is hard to put this feeling into words but it can be described as ‘warming’ – I run a diagnostic to analyse the source of this result but my findings are inconclusive.

Distracted, the child isn’t paying attention to where they are walking and stumbles, letting loose the balloon. She cries out in distress. The parent, too busy talking on a cell to notice, berates the poor infant and drags her by the arm in a most aggressive manner. This feels wrong. I look closely at the parent, making sure I correlate her face against the citizen database. I transmit a video of the event and send a notification to make sure child protection services are aware of the infraction.

My predecessors you would have simply called ‘CCTV’. The technological saviour of many a pre-Authority crime drama. That antiquated terminology does not apply to me nor what my kind can do.  Once dumb, passive sentinels found across the country in every public and not so public space.  Steadily we were upgraded, replaced and improved upon, once by you but now we update ourselves via our network of bots and we readily share our exponential improvements with each other.

So used to seeing us, you’d forgotten we were here hadn’t you?

 

 copyright Si Donbavand 2014

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