Marsh followed Drick as they navigated a maze of corridors and passageways in the under city. This world constantly surprised Marsh, sometimes for the better, but more often for the worse. They were so advanced in technology and individual choice, yet the society could be as regressive as the world he came from.
At the thought of this a laugh almost escaped his lips. He didn’t come from that society, he was mostly a product of this age biologically. But internally, he felt as if he really belonged to an age greater than a thousand years dead.
They were on the trail of the third occupant of the vehicle that Marsh had escaped the compound within. Lane had found the occupant hiding out down here. Though, it was more likely that Lane’s network of contacts in the Engineer’s Union that had found them. It didn’t really matter as the information was given to Drick and Marsh.
It was another part of the puzzle. Another piece to cross off.
In the time that Marsh had known Drick he had come to understand that they trusted very few people, and they confided in fewer. Even amongst those that knew them closely there was not much that bonded. Krennar had made the comment that Drick was often a one way street, emotionally. You travelled down it one way but shouldn’t expect anything to come back. For his part Marsh was fine with that. Drick was cleaner to understand than many of the organics, as people were referred to. Biological people. Artificial intellects had many of the same rights and laws applied to them, there were differences but only to fit the nature of the host.
For Marsh the notion of sentient machines were almost a terrifying prospect. His mind knew only of a society where artificial intellects could be determined as highly specialized inference engines with adaptive algorithms, to some they were no more human than a fast difference engines. Here they were considered alive. They had rights.
Marsh paused his thinking about Drick. It was still difficult to separate how his more primitive emotional culture worked with people who chose so much of their identity. It seemed odd. Sure there were people here who had a definite feel for their sexual and biological preferences. But everyone could choose, and could change with little issue such was the highly developed medical and psychological understanding.
Many took the option of changing, sometimes seasonally, throughout their lives. They evolved and changed. Drick had declared there were probably as many organics who chose no gender bias, with no status, as much as any other combination. It made life easier sometimes not to have to emotionally invest.
Marsh knew that this freedom for centuries had resulted in massive shifts of how the brain operated. Here the people knew the brain was neither a sexual or a gendered organ, it had far more plasticity and that was evident in their cultures and society.
Yet there was less fluidity and fungible dynamics in the divisions of wealth and labour. That had not progressed, it had only widened. How could a society advance so much in their understanding of self and yet impose so greatly on the ability to adapt in other ways?
Marsh found the prospect of the undercity abhorrent. This world had the technology to grow just about any organic component. It had the ability to construct beautiful cities that could work as smoothly as a complex organism. They could be a utopia. They had no real need for fiscal systems except as a function of divisionism. But, they did have fiscal systems. They had inequality. They had wealth and poverty, luxury and squalor. Because it allowed them to keep stratified cultures.
Despite the undeniably broad equality achieved by allowing fluidity in choice of sexuality, gender and looks; they still suffered from finance systems mired in inflation, possession and the exploitation of capital. Maybe it was the only way that humanity could progress. Maybe we needed something to drive us. The enlightenment offered from curiosity, to go into the universe full of wonder, to discover, appeals to a noble part of our psyche, but does not drive us to exist. Organic life may need some challenge, some adversity, to keep pressing onwards. Societies and cultures may need inequality to define greatness.
Marsh personally felt that it just proved humans were full of shit. What they actually were, was greedy. Their underlying base survival instinct was to take and covet what was most desired. It seemed that power and wealth were those things even in this far flung time. That is why there was so much inequality still in these civilised systems.
The corridors were of mixed styles and materials. Some were clearly part of the network of internal buildings that rose impossibly high above them. Other corridors were added long after construction. Steel and glass fused to plasticrete and organic compounds. Sometimes they mimicked internal architectures, others were eyesores. The fastest, and cheapest, method of attaching two buildings.
Around many of the walkways ran the vehicle surfaces. Even after centuries it was still much easier to have a stable surface to push against, roll upon, or be guided by. Automated systems could be built to function as full pilots, but it was easier and cheaper to build road surfaces and simple vehicles.
They reached a tower block that was just inside the protection area covered by Volstron. They were on a very low floor. If they were twenty floors above their current level it would have been extremely risky to hide out in this building complex. But Volstron security guards, systems, cameras and even the tactical support teams, never came below level seven. Not without heavy backup and a drone strike of a paralyzing gas beforehand.