Issues: Identity, Class Conflict, Social Prediction
Shock: The Prophecy Machines. Semi-sentient computers designed by Predictatron Inc can predict people's behavior with scary accuracy. They offer people "suggestions" by text message, and increasingly the human race just follows the suggestions blindly. A secretive counterculture movement seeks to avoid foreknowledge.
Otto is the President of Predictatron Inc, and he means to see to it that humanity trusts his machines absolutely. But his trusted vice president Julian, who is engaged to his daughter, is secretly an anti-Machine saboteur. When he confronts Julian, his subordinate is unrepentant; he argues that by being content with a life chosen for you, you surrender the chance to make a better one, and challenges Otto to say that his own marriage is the happiest he could be. Otto counter by suggesting that if uncertainty is so valuable, perhaps Julian would like to play Russian Roulette. Julian simply walks out, leaving Otto to consider what his willingness to risk his family means about his own happiness. At that moment Otto receives a text message prediction: if Otto kills his daughter and himself, Julian will be blamed, and public opinion will turn against the counterculture. Otto does as the machines instruct, and resistance to the Machines collapses. Within a generation all humanity will surrender its will.
Petra is a celebrated writer and socialite. Her mother is a Predictatron programmer, and when they were young she and her sister Sophie wrote for an anti-Machine newspaper called the Morning Star. Petra turned her back on the movement and the two had a falling-out, and now she wants to reconcile. Sophie won't even talk to her unless she agrees to publicly acknowledge her counterculture past, creating a scandal. Petra agrees to help the Morning Star hack the Predictatrons during one of her book signings, which of course only provides more publicity. When Predictatron Inc goons show up to intimidate her into silence, Sophie and the Star staff come to the rescue, and the two are reconciled.
Xander is a sulky teenager who thinks the Machines are evil and conformist. His sister Moira has been matched up with the girl of her dreams by a Predictatron dating service, and Xander wants her to refuse. Moira agrees to postpone her date if Xander will give the dating service a try. But their father is furious at both of them for defying the common sense of the Machines, and Moira is determined to keep her date the second time. Xander fails to convince her to stay home the second time, and instead follows her secretly to the movie theater to sabotage the date itself. He does, and the date is ruined. Moira's dream girl is lost for good. But unfortunately she catches him in the act, and their relationship is also permanently soured.
Edited by Ben R on Sep 29, 2011 5:10 PM