Body Snatchers (A Christmas Story)

Luís Ángel Fernández Hermana - @luisangelfh
17 April, 2018
Editorial: 194
Fecha de publicación original: 21 diciembre, 1999

Thinking of anything else is thinking of the impossible

J.B.Wrightless, the President of the US, then said, ” It is our duty, at this time, to offer the world one of the most important agreements in recent history. The whole world is expecting us to resolve our differences and move forward, together, without exception, towards a better future. A global community should mean global participation, the communion of each and every person with their neighbour so that we can overcome our discrepancies”. And then he fell silent. The 2,700 delegates from 186 countries who filled the conference hall in Stockholm waited expectantly as though some momentous announcement was about to be made. The summit to celebrate the 2Oth anniversary of the Seattle meeting in 1999 had already lasted 15 days without coming to any conclusion. The World Trade Organisation’s Ministerial Conference being held in Sweden was the seventh attempt to get down in black and white a treaty of some kind to resolve growing world trade disaster. The world had been divided into two clearly differentiated sectors. On the one hand, there was the Police Zone, prospering thanks to iron-clad control over information technology property rights. On the other, there was the region belonging to the Citizens Net Assembly (CNA), which defended the free distribution of that technology as a public right to interaction.

This conflict had led to haphazard growth in telecommunications networks as well as a successive wave of invasions of network design centres, the theft of source codes and their immediate distribution throughout telematic networks plus the intrusion of CNA patrols into every new scientific advance, which were becoming more and more dependent on network integration all the time. The right to interaction defended by the Magna Carta of Citizens in the Information Society had placed many developing nations in advantageous positions thanks to their human networks and some of them, in fact, were already competing in the “big league” . Nevertheless, at the same time, environmental degradation constantly hampered their advancement and they mercilessly castigated the marginalised sectors of society depriving them of the benefits of information and knowledge although some of them were living in info-opulent countries. The networked world was a turbulent one distinguished by frontiers of the imagination and control.

The President remained immobile on the podium. When someone tried to go up to him to find out if he was feeling all right, the White House’s Technology and Security Director furiously prevented him from doing so. “Don’t touch him”, he almost shouted. The President was immediately surrounded by several people from his entourage. The Director said quietly, although not quietly enough for it not to be picked up by the microphones in the room, “They have invaded his body. Let’s not do anything yet.” People began to murmur. The news spread like wild fire on the Internet. The unthinkable had happened, what the Police Zone had always feared and constantly claimed could never occur: the President’s body systems had been invaded by computer intruders who were taking control of his moletronics.

All around the president machines of different shapes and sizes were deployed, some were connected delicately to his hands and forehead. A few moments later, the telemetrics readings of his body systems began to show up on the hall’s giant screen. J.B. Wrightless, like so many other citizens in the rich countries, took his daily ration of moletronic pills which encapsulated dozens of nano-computers which monitored a multitude of body parameters: temperature of different organs, hormone balance, the cytology of his vital internal organs, the state of his MT (Memory Transfer from the Presidential Bank of Past Experiences –PBPE– housed in a bunker somewhere in the US) and, above all, the state of his heart and brain. The so-called Forest of Cardiac Sensors (FCS) constantly controlled his heart beat and the artificial genes that were on standby to repair any muscle tissue in case of a heart attack, stroke or any other malfunction of his heart. During the night, moletronics were expelled from his body along with his faeces and replaced by others specialised in assuring the smooth running of all his bodily functions while asleep.

The President remained still while excitement grew around him. “Nobody touch him until we know exactly what is happening”. On the screen everything appeared perfectly normal except for the message that came up every now and then amongst the numbers: “Controlled”. As the minutes passed these messages became more frequent. “Mr Director, new circuits are being created on the networks all the time. The attackers stay connected for less than 45 seconds and then move on to other networks. We have already detected 6.500. There is no centre, the invasion is coming from thousands of places”. At this moment, a counter appeared in one corner of the screen where numbers fluctuated up and down: 7.250, 8.100, 7.820, 8.910, 9.340…

Suddenly, all the numbers disappeared from the screen and were replaced by a fuzzy image which got clearer all the time. In the deathly silence that then fell the Director’s voice could be heard clearly, “They are controlling his video sensors, these bastards are going to show us his body from the inside. Don’t do anything, any attempt to disconnect would send his moletronics out of control for a few seconds and that might be enough to……..” He didn’t finish his sentence. A cold sweat broke out on his forehead. The image on the screen was perfectly clear now. A tiny light began to blink on what appeared to be a palpitating organ. Little by little, more lights appeared and clearly drew a Christmas tree that illuminated a liver in action.

People all over the world, not just those in the conference hall, followed the whole event via the Net with bated breath. All of them could hear what appeared to be someone clearing his throat, and it wasn’t the Director, the only one who had given orders so far. “Sir”, said one of the aides as he carefully scrutinised his electronic notebook, “we are registering increased moletronic activity in the tracheal region”. Before he had finished his sentence another throat clearing was heard, the hall fell as silent as the grave, and then a voice similar to the president’s, though gentler than his normally rasping one, was heard.

“We have accepted the US President’s invitation to join the communion of everyone with their neighbour so we can overcome our discrepancies. We have brought the presidents of the “Three Sisters” with us. Ms Crawford from the US, Mr Rao from India and Mr Li from China, heads of multi-national consortia of software, strategic technology and satellite networks. Don’t worry about them, they will be perfectly well-fed all the time and the two Americans will get their Christmas dinners. Their corpus-net has been working without a hitch until now. It is an almost mystical experience to participate body and soul with these people, from their present and their past stored in their respective Experience Banks. Now, we only have a couple of things to say. In the first place, the only way for us to “overcome our discrepancies” as the President put it, is to accept that, as the Magna Carta of Citizens in the Information Society says, the right to interaction implies the unlimited public distribution, without restriction of any kind for anybody, of strategic communications technology. While you think about it, we will continue to capture it and transfer it all over those parts of the world you have left by the wayside, including those in your own opulent societies who have not even had access to the essential tools for adapting to routine events such as climate change. In the second place, trying to resist this transfer is a lost cause which will only make life more difficult for everybody, especially for those whose corpus-net are linked to their genetic make-up, as in the case of our four guests. You have three days to reach an agreement. We hope those celebrating Christmas will have a good one. Don’t worry about anything: the last one of us to leave will switch off the lights on the Christmas tree”.

Translation: Bridget King