Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Viral Communication

In a world where instantaneous electronic messages are ubiquitous, but instantly interceptable and completely unencryptable through an enormous over-supply of quantum computing power, only the very wealthy have access to secure communication. Special couriers are genetically engineered from conception to be infected with custom viruses that encode information. Their hereditary task is to be infected, to travel and then speak their messages in the presence of the recipient. As in pre-modern times, personal messengers are the only secure means of communication.

Because viruses are non specific, many people can be carriers of a given virus at any one time, and may even become infected with minor cases through mutation. The half-received messages leak out in strange and inappropriate ways, through odd sentences, fragments of ideas, and confused outbursts. Cheap viruses are constructed by would-be advertisers and released to the general public. Manufactured fads for products and brands blossom and fade as ad campaigns rise and decline. Because these viruses must be even less targeted, they mutate and mix with other genomes, sometimes causing "brand collision" and forcible intermarriage of competing companies to take advantage of the resulting commercial message. The resulting messages force commerce to be nimble and respond to the effects of their own advertising.

People are endlessly approaching one another with strange and inscrutable messages. Some are intended, others are accidental, a few are parts of elaborate scams, often for money. The profession of infected is licensed and carefully monitored, so scams are theoretically impossible, but they happen nonetheless. The job is hereditary and prestigious, yet compulsory and ultimately servile. Even toward the top of a very vertical society, unintended secondary
symptoms of messages appear and fade, sneezes and aches, rashes and full-blown open sores. The scars of message pox become status symbols imitated through makeup by the fashionable. Those born to be messengers are proud, aloof, and often at the fringes of society, especially when chronically ill with messages that make them pariahs in their world.

Sent from my iPhone

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