NEW YORK CITY, October 25th, 2056
Institute of Arts, Design & Technology, Ireland
Lower Manhattan, New York City during grid failure caused by Hurricane Sandy, 2012.
Courtesy of REUTERS/Gtres, Eduardo Muñoz
Hine lowers his phone camera. It’s happened. Ellis island, dark. The report had warned. Still, disbelieving his own eyes. Looking across, all Lower Manhattan in blackness. Pitch. His gaze wanders, further up the island. Nothing. Deep darkness. Uncanny. No one? No shouts, screams, voices even, no horns, no alarms. Surely. Someone. Shock? Water. Flood barriers have failed. Christ, those people. Or those that remain. Automatons, Co-bots, except for supervisory Human Co-leagues. Thousands?
Yellow. A generator. Yellow lights blaze across floors of that single building. A Beacon. Fucking Goldman-Stanleys’, ‘New World Headquarters’. Global investment bank. What fools. Networks’ failed. Again. Complete grid? New fucking world. His phone flickers. From what he knows, completely, across the globe. It begins. The centralised system. Singularity. They’d been fucking warned.
Blue black. Steel. The colour of the sky. Anger. Angry.
Signs have been there. Over four decades. Repeatedly. The Globalised Coalition Government’s (GCG) foreign-policy wars against exposed populations, providing headlines, internal discrimination against helpless communities, providing distraction. Of course, the 2020s pandemic had provided the template. Sacrifices were to be tolerated – the weak, infirm, the vulnerable. Made palatable with daily smart-briefings while denying the greatest threat – a collapsing ecosystem and the ability to support life. Blindness. Didn’t matter, the focus driven by the globalized promise of the speculative, financialized, extractive so-called green futures model. Fiscal resources at a scale never witnessed, enabling this madness and the violence of inequality. Even the civil war was a distraction. 12 months. The upside for those that survived, the limited water, and food, that could be produced, would suffice. Until now.
Fuck, the sky. The whole view. A great big allegorical ‘fuck you’. How long did they think it could last, the race to the bottom is just that. Is this that? The report’s ‘disaster’? The professor of accountancy quietly told him, almost a whisper, over forty years ago, ‘better it collapses now. If it doesn’t…catastrophic’. The senior banker, the other side of the ocean, London, sitting on a bench amid the manicured park in Canary Wharf, similar words, ‘the system is unsustainable, if it continues, it’ll be a catastrophe…for everyone’.
The 1%. Perpetual war, pandemic, civil war, automated growing plantations, space-stations, climate breakdown, still, too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry. 2 billion perished. Far away. The 1%.
One building. ‘New World Headquarters’, and no one home. Floors emptied in 2039 when Goldman Stanley reached full rationalisation, that is, Genetic Algorithmic Intelligence. Self-evolution. A beacon.
‘Unexpected and risky events come to be seen as more normal, until a disaster occurs’, words he has memorized from that 2012 report. They called it, ‘the normalization of deviance’…normalizing deviance…deviance fucking normalized. What were they thinking? They’d been warned.
His phone flickers, the image just made, disappears.