No Matter How Much Things Change…

It's an ordinary world out there. The writing on the wall really starts to change at the turn of the century, when George H.W. Bush loses the 2000 presidential election to Al Gore. It's a watershed moment, a tipping point on the scales where history could have zigged when it instead chose to zag. Somewhere along the way, the path ahead was severed and we were left to forge our own way forward. The technology boom of the late 1990s only intensified as the 2000's surged ahead. In the United States, President Gore instated the Technological Advancement Act (TAA), a series of policies and government funding intended to give the United States a leg up on foreign technology advancements. The TAA incentivized tech companies and STEM graduates, pushing for a higher understanding of science within American schools and a rapid development of civil technology, the budget for all of which was pinched from the defense expense budget piece by piece.

In September of 2001 disaster was averted when the CIA in coordination with the FBI caught a group of Saudi-backed terrorists planning to crash multiple aircraft into both New York City as well as sites in Washington DC. The 9/11 arrests at airports around the country potentially saved thousands of lives and was a watershed moment for the US intelligence community. Realizing the need for greater electronic surveillance, President Gore authorized the Domestic Spying Program in late 2001 granting incredibly authority to the NSA to spy on American citizens while at the same time leveraging the TAA to force technology companies to include surveillance software and back doors in consumer products. This advancement is spurred on by the cell phone computing boom from 2002 to 2003, ushering in an era of advanced cell technology across the United States. The digital evolution knocked out analog television broadcasts, forcing a digital conversion en-masse in 2008. At the end of President Gore's term, the incoming President Andrew Mitchell further supports continued domestic spying, crediting extant programs for numerous arrests. By 2010, halfway through the decade, nearly every aspect of every household is in some way under a measure of government surveillance, from what you search for on the internet to the phone contacts you're making around the world.

But the real panopticon hadn't even opened its eye yet.

…They Stay The Same

In 2011 the NSA and the CIA's SIGINT division brainchild the development of a learning algorithm designed to aggregate all of the United States telecommunications information, threatening tech companies with withdrawal of TAA tax credits if they are non-compliant. The companies buckle under the weight of their own greed, and OPTICA is born. OPTICA (Observation Platform Technology Interfacing Computer Applications) is a virtual intelligence of learning algorithms designed to emulate artificial intelligence. Over the course of the next six years, OPTICA grows to become the world's single largest source of aggregate civilian data in the world. By the time leaks reveal the existence of OPTICA to the world in a stunning expose in 2012, it's already too late. Federal Judges attempt to rule the creation and utilization of mass public data unconstitional, but one of the last acts of the Mitchell administration is stamping out that dissent and overturning the courts ruling.

President Mitchell sticks around for another term, further diminishing military defense budgets but throwing massive sums of discretionary funds at the CIA and NSA as they expand their surveillance programs overseas. But on a street level, most people don't realize anything has changed. The world keeps on moving, computer technology advances apace, and there's even better phones, personal computers, and televisions on the market and America is "more peaceful" than ever, if that statistic is measured in international conflicts and not domestic dissent.

By the time the American public has had enough with OPTICA the damage is at an institutional level and its tendrils have reached far and wide. The time for a change was hard and fast and America adjusts to its first female President with aplomb when Claudia Zimmerman is sworn into office in 2016. Claudia begins to try and dismantle OPTICA, but finds the process a daunting task due to the apparatus being tied into so many social and civil systems, including STEM funds and corporate bailouts used to smooth out the bumps of potential economic disasters over the last decade. Even as Claudia's first term comes to an end, she struggles to find ways to fulfill her campaign promises and dismantle OPTICA.

But the American people have become accustomed to the all-seeing eye. If they're not doing anything wrong, they have nothing to hide.

But what happens when the definition of "wrong" changes?

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License