New Futures™, 2021 (transcript)

Biohacking companies had finally cracked the neural code that determined behavioural characteristics and temperament. This discovery had led to profound breakthroughs in the science of personality replacement. Companies such as New Futures ™ offered a discrete service whereby elite clients could medically upgrade their personality to a more appealing model. Clients were placed in a scanning machine, where electromagnetic radiation etched new response characteristics and metrics into the prefrontal cortex. The process was pain free and completed within a matter of hours. Those that received the treatment were referred to as synthetics. Synthetic personalities took a while to get used to. Companies offered luxury hotel rooms where clients could spend a few days acclimatising to their new persona. After three days the synthetic personality settled into the prefrontal cortex, and clients were ready to appear in public. 

They emerged with enhanced charisma, new mannerisms and ideas worth spreading.

Synthetic personalities were listed on the stock market. Traders could back particular individuals and profit when they surged ahead in popularity. Hackers disliked the synthetic industry. They wanted to destroy exceptionalism and the competitive market that supported it. They were nostalgic for the slacker era; a time when aimlessness was seen as a desirable trait. The hackers infiltrated the market by inserting actors into the system. Investors could no longer tell whether their assets were genuine or fake.  The market became highly volatile as politicians turned out to be actors, and charismatic actors turned out to be dull politicians. Even leading influencers were influenced by disingenuous fakes. There was simply no way of knowing whether success stories were reliable or not. Authentic synthetics and inauthentic copies were indistinguishable. Market mood swings made business difficult, and the securities industry fell into disarray. Investor portfolios turned out to be worthless hype and billions of dollars were lost. The hackers had successfully infiltrated competitive individualism, thus freeing up more time for introversion and computer games. The actors, on the other hand, felt that the hacker ethos would undermine their profession. How could they thrive in a culture that stifled individual expression and hype? They believed in the power of grand stories and dramaturgy.  The actors decided to infiltrate the hacker community by impersonating them. They joined online forums and disseminated their actor-networking theories through comments and live chat. They bombarded sites with lengthy discourse about self-actualisation and the many layers of the performative self. Slacker hacker chill zones were barraged with irritating provocations and banter. And for the time being, their plan of passive voice was thwarted.  

“Thus play I in one person many people,
And none contented: sometimes am I king;
Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar,
And so I am: then crushing penury
Persuades me I was better when a king;
Then am I king'd again: and by and by
Think that I am unking'd by Bolingbroke,
And straight am nothing: but whate'er I be,
Nor I nor any man that but man is
With nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased
With being nothing.”

(Richard 11, scene 5)