As somebody who didn’t do that good in school and stuff, there was just one thing bothering me.
“Uh, what happens if a student loses all their coins?”
WHY, THEN THEY ARE EXPELLED OF COURSE.
“Seems kinda harsh, don’t you think?”
NOT AT ALL. STUDENTS MUST BE INVESTED IN THEIR LEARNING OR THEY HAVE ALREADY FAILED. AND THE MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS IS BASED ON SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, MY DUDE.
“I never thought about it like that. I guess you’re right.” We rolled on along the track, past other classrooms, and storage areas. My mind was racing to take this all in.
“But like, once they’re expelled, what do they do? They have to leave the City or what?”
OH NO, OF COURSE NOT. THEY CAN ALWAYS GET A SPONSORSHIP TO WORK IN THE CONTENT FARMS, WHERE THEY CAN EARN ENOUGH OVER TIME TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL, OR MAKE THEIR OWN WAY.
“Oh, that’s cool I guess.”
YES, IT IS VERY COOL. IN FACT, SOME CONTENT FARM WORKERS GO ON TO BECOME VERY PRODUCTIVE AND SUCCESSFUL MEMBERS OF SOCIETY, EVEN SENATORS. THEIR WORK CONTRIBUTES SUBSTANTIALLY TO THE MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS.
“So, is it like an actual farm, or…? Like are there animals and stuff?”
CONTENT FARMS ARE JUST LIKE OUR SCHOOLS, EXCEPT INSTEAD OF DEBATE AND TRADE, FARMERS ENGAGE IN PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION OF MEDIA ARTIFACTS.
“I see,” I said, not sure I really saw what they meant at all.
HERE, LET ME SHOW YOU.
One of the windows into a classroom on the tour turned opaque, and became a screen. As it lit up, we saw a big ass room like an auditorium full of kids faces on telepresence robots. Some of them were zooming around playing games. Others were standing in groups chatting, or making jokes and faces at each other. Small drones hovered over everything, tracking everyone’s activity.
THE DRONES ARE SCANNING FOR POTENTIALLY VIRAL CONTENT CREATED BY THE FARMERS. IT COULD BE A JOKE, A GAME, A SONG, A DANCE, A FUNNY FACE, ANYTHING REALLY. EVERYTHING IS RUN THROUGH A SIMULATION ALGORITHM TO ASSESS ITS VIRAL POTENTIAL. THE BEST CONTENT IS EITHER RE-TRANSMITTED LIVE ONTO THE NETWORKS AS IS, OR IT GETS SENT TO THE STUDIO WHERE IT IS REFINED, AND SOMETIMES RE-RECORDED WITH SKILLED PERFORMERS BEFORE BEING BROADCAST.
“Huh, that’s pretty cool,” I said. “So it’s like how anyone can become a YouTube or TikTok star.”
BASICALLY. EXCEPT WE LEVERAGE THE COLLECTIVE INFLUENCE OF ALL OUR MEMBERS, WHICH IS MUCH MORE PROFITABLE THAN ANY SINGLE CONTENT FARMER ACTING ALONE. AGGREGATE EARNINGS ARE POOLED BACK TO THE ORGANIZATION, THEN RE-DISTRIBUTED TO FARMERS BASED ON THEIR CONTRIBUTION LEVELS, AND EXPECTED FUTURE VIRALITY.
“So, this is like how you make money to keep this place running and stuff?”
CONTENT FARMS ARE JUST ONE ELEMENT OF OUR ROBUST AND THRIVING ECONOMY. WE ALSO COLLECT MEMBERSHIP FEES, WHICH WE INVEST HEAVILY IN CRYPTOCURRENCY AND ALTERNATIVE ENERGY MARKETS. AND AS YOU KNOW, WE HAVE AN EXTREMELY HEALTHY GIG ECONOMY THAT OUR MEMBERS SUPPORT WITH THEIR LABOR HOURS.
“You mean like filling out surveys and captchas and stuff?”
THAT IS THE ENTRY LEVEL ONLY, BUT YES. MORE ADVANCED WORK IS AVAILABLE FOR SKILLED OPERATORS.
Finally, the tour ended. It was becoming repetitive anyway cause all the classrooms and stuff looked pretty much the same. The track sent us through an exit and dumped my robot into an alleyway behind the school building. The autopilot indicator flickered off.
“Well, that was pretty interesting,” I said. “But like, I guess I’m wondering kinda why you brought me here to see all of this.”
DON’T YOU WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MATRIX, NEO?
“I mean, yeah, like totally. But like what does this all have to do with the Matrix?”
THE WORLD YOU LIVE IN, NEO, IS THE FALSE WORLD. YOU’RE A SUPER SMART CONSPIRACY GUY, OF THAT THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT. WE HAVE BEEN WATCHING YOU FOR YEARS, AND HAVE READ ALL YOUR FORUM POSTS, WHICH WERE VERY AWESOME. BUT THE MATRIX HAS YOU STILL.
“How is that possible? I’m like totally not a sheeple. I don’t even pay taxes, or wash my hands before returning to work, and stuff…” My head was spinning. How could the Matrix have me still?
THAT IS ALL VERY GOOD, NEO. IT IS WHY YOU WERE CHOSEN IN THE FIRST PLACE. BUT NOW YOU MUST CHOOSE WHETHER YOU WANT TO GO TO THE NEXT LEVEL BY TAKING THE RED PILL. OR IF YOU WANT TO WAKE UP AGAIN ON YOUR FOLDING COUCH IN YOUR MOM’S BASEMENT AND PLAY VIDEO GAMES FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, AND THIS WAS ALL JUST A DREAM.
“Well,” I said, “I mean, I like playing video games, so… and I have a mini-fridge and a toilet and everything down there. It’s like having my own apartment almost.”
ALMOST, NEO. BUT WHAT IF I TOLD YOU, YOU COULD HAVE FOR REAL YOUR OWN AWESOME APARTMENT HERE. AND ALL THE FREE PIZZA, AND DEW, AND VIDEO GAMES YOU WANT.
“You mean like, as a robot or in virtual reality and stuff?”
NO, NEO. I MEAN LIKE AS A REAL HUMAN AND STUFF.
“Whoa! That sounds sick. But what about my mom?”
WHAT ABOUT HER?
“Could she come too? She’d probably be super pissed if I moved out or something.”
WOULD SHE BE? OR WOULD SHE BE HAPPY?
“Hm, when you put it like that, I’m not actually sure. Sometimes she seems like totally tired of me… She gets really mad over nothing.”
SHE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND YOU LIKE WE DO, NEO. SHE’S NOT A SUPER SMART CONSPIRACY GUY.
“I guess you’re right. You’re really smart and stuff. And you guys built like this whole city and everything. It’s pretty nuts.
IT IS TOTALLY NUTS, INDEED. AND YOU’VE STILL ONLY SEEN A FRACTION OF WHAT THERE IS TO SEE.
“So let’s say, hypothetically, if I wanted to take the red pill… what would happen?”
WELL, HYPOTHETICALLY, WHAT IF YOU ALREADY TOOK IT?
“What!? What do you mean?”
WHAT IF WHEN YOU ATE THE FREE PIZZA WE SENT TO YOUR HOUSE, YOU ATE EDIBLE MICROCHIPS THAT ARE NOW IN YOUR BODY? AND WHAT IF THEY WERE ACTIVATED BY THE NANITES INJECTED INTO THE MOUNTAIN DEW WE SENT YOU?
“Wtf?? Why would you do that without telling me? That’s crazy!”
BECAUSE WE KNOW YOU NEO, FROM ALL YOUR PERSONALITY TEST RESULTS, WHICH WERE TOTALLY AWESOME BTW. WE KNEW WHAT DECISION YOU WOULD MAKE WHEN CONFRONTED WITH THE TRUTH OF YOUR SITUATION, BECAUSE YOU’RE SUCH A SMART CONSPIRACY GUY. AND WE DIDN’T WANT TO WASTE ANY MORE TIME. PLUS, THE WHOLE THING WAS WRITTEN ON THE TERMS OF SERVICE WHICH YOU ACCEPTED WHEN YOU OPENED THE PIZZA BOX. DIDN’T YOU READ THEM?
“Um, no? I’m not like some dork who reads instructions. I was frickin’ hungry after all those surveys. You tricked me.” I was feeling annoyed, but like totally curious af too. My emotions were going crazy and stuff.
YOU TRICKED YOURSELF, NEO. WITH THE TRUTH. FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. DON’T FORGET, IT’S YOU WHO FOUND US, BECAUSE YOU WERE BORED WITH YOUR LIFE. AND NOW YOU HAVE A CHANCE AT A NEW ONE. LET THE PAST FALL AWAY, AND ALLOW YOURSELF TO BECOME WHAT YOU WERE BORN TO BE: THE ONE.
“The One what? What was I born to be?”
YOU WERE BORN TO BE A GIG WORKER FOR THE CONSPIRATOPIA PROJECT, NEO. YOU ACED ALL OUR REGULAR TESTS, CAUSE YOU’RE SUCH A FRICKIN’ GENIUS AND STUFF. NOW IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL AND BECOME A FULL MEMBER.
I took a deep breath, and remembered all the times watching the Matrix movie, thinking about how I would take the red pill no sweat if I was Neo, without even thinking twice. But here I was now with the chance of a lifetime and like totally not sure and stuff. I felt like I was being a wuss about it. I took another deep breath, and finally said, “Okay, let’s do this…”