Conversation No. 26: You Had Me at Monkey

"You're a cowboy?"

"Yeah a cowboy."

"Like ropes and a big hat?"

"No, more technical."

"Oh, like a matrix-runner cowboy."

Holy garbanzo, she's read Gibson. That's just hot.

"No, I herd gold farmers."

"Gold farmers?"

The wheels in her mind were spinning trying to catch on. Xander stared back at her. He's said it too many times to think it ridiculous anymore.

"Yeah all the tedious stuff that professionals -- you know, people on-the-go -- don't want to do get done by others."

Xander has tried to figure out how to explain that part to people before. Probably next time he'll make it more personal. That should make more sense then putting it in the general context of yuppies and dinks.

"How does that work?"

She's still curious so that's good.

"You know those chips you can buy and have it research, I don't know, say, statutes of limitations? Well a team of info farmers does it for you and feeds it back into the chip."

"I thought it was some sort of artificial intelligence that did that on the fly or a big information warehouse."

"That's what a lot of people think, but that is way too hard. It's more akin to a bunch of monkeys on typewriters."

Society gave up on artificial intelligence a while back when everyone realized there's enough human power at low prices to do crappy human jobs. But instead of saying any of that, Xander mentions monkeys.

"Type writer?"

"Never mind. Well these monkeys are for the most part good people. They just didn't have the education credentials to be on the receiving end."

Funny thing about that. Knowledge has become a commodity and good jobs are given more on nepotism now then ever. But to keep up with the fact that everyone can know anything, it requires a lot of back-end labor to push it forward into the upper-class realm.

Good thing creativity still counts for something.

"Where does the gold come in?"

"Games."

"Oh."

That was obviously a 'that didn't make any sense' response. She looked around the room a bit before looking back at Xander.

"Back in the day, actually it still happens, people would pay others to do boring stuff in games. For example, I could pay some Chinese guy real money for stuff he got in games fighting monsters."

She squinted at Xander trying to get a more reasonable answer.

"Don't you play games to fight monsters?"

"Only the big ones."

"I see. So what do you do with these... farmers?"

Back to the subject. She's obviously not a gamer. That's too bad.

"Yep, gold farmers. I manage several groups. Also do product visioning. Coming up with new uses for the devices."

"Anything I could use?"

"You like to read?"

"Sometimes."

"Really?"

She shrugged her shoulders. Not like Xander can complain. He reads the same five sci-fi books all the time. It still broke the continuity of the example he's trying to give.

"Um, ever want to join a book club?"

"Hmm... not particularly. Well maybe."

"You could get a chip to read the book for you."

"You mean another person."

"Yeah it's all the same. Once they distill the info it just gets stored in the chip and streamed to your brain."

"Do you have one right now?"

That was a half joke, half serious question. At least Xander hopes so.

"I suppose I could get one that feeds me romantic lines."

"Sweet talker chip?"

"Hey let me write that one down."

That got a cute little giggle. Xander could sense the conflict between aversion and curiosity for this conversation that she had, but that little back and forth broke the tension.

"To be honest some people don't ever know what they actually do at their job anymore."

"How so?"

"Part of the chip is memories and experience. That's what makes the information real and easier to absorb. Eventually these memories bleed into your subconscious. Take the chip out and you won't be sure which memories came from the chip and which came from your own actions."

"Can't you tell from your hands or something else?"

"You mean like in the picture you see man hands?"

"Yes."

"It's not like a movie. Memory is fuzzy and your brain will put in visuals that make sense."

That really got her thinking. Xander, in his infinite wisdom, broke the silence by following up with, "Hell neither of us can be sure this conversation is happening. Either I don't exist or you don't exist and the scene is feeding into one of our thoughts."

"I don't have a chip in my brain."

"You sure about that?"

She looked uneasy. Xander's sense of humor can be a little divisive at times; the awkwardness makes him feel at ease.

"Told you I should have gotten the Sweet Talker Chip."

She gave a big smile and enticing look.

"Let's get another a couple drinks."

source print home