Ms. Bell was well aware that Suzy and Jeff were not paying as much attention to the class discussion as the rest of the thirteen year-olds she was in charge of. She decided not to notice, after all, it wasn't their fault. All the teachers felt guilty that two of the school's brightest prospects would never achieve their potential. It was the school's fault that they couldn't access The Cloud, so would be sidelined in society for ever.
This was one of the lessons that the teacher always thought went down well, the discussion about how and why the current global community was founded. It had its roots in The Internet of the 1990s, and the replacement that was gradually introduced from the middle of the twenty-first century. This replacement was The Cloud.
The key to The Cloud was the Biocyber implant. This allowed all the information from the global networks to be directed straight into the user's brain. It was soon fitted free to everybody in the world. By the age of five, most children had mastered being able to search for content just by thinking about it.
Users could communicate with each other just by thinking, although this was discouraged in school as it was still policy to practise verbal communication. It also meant that the few students who hadn't mastered the mental communication would not be left behind.
The discussion had turned to the New Age of Rationalism, when the first update of the implant had been introduced. The biggest problem with The Cloud was that when your mind wandered, you could recall all sorts of nonsense. The new implant was able to influence the levels of chemicals the in the brain, reducing the tendency to be distracted, and eventually minimising imagination, this in turn led to an effort to minimise all emotions.
From a rational viewpoint, world leaders could see that human greed and selfishness were not only adversely affecting society, but were on the brink of an environmental point of no-return. Massive investments were made in sustainable housing, mass transit and both fusion and renewable power.
Unhindered by emotion the whole world started to work together and the rate of scientific advancement increased exponentially.
"So what were the causes of most of the wars?" The teacher asked.
"Resources. Everybody wanted more land and more stuff like oil."
"Excellent Enrique. Anybody else?"
"Freedom. People wanted to govern themselves or stop being oppressed, so would fight against their oppressors."
"Yes, that is a good answer Adriana, but isn't that really the same as resources. The people were resources being exploited."
"How can people be resources?"
"When we cover slavery next term, you will see how through history some people felt they had the right to make other people do all their work for them without paying them. Anybody else?"
"Charlie, can you explain what you mean?"
"Well, in the past, people invented stories about how the world worked and why it was there. They invented people called gods who they said controlled the world, and you had to follow sets of rituals in order to get favour with them. People disagreed about what god was right, so they fought wars about it."
"Good, that's another big one."
"So people invented their own imaginary people then thought wars over which one was the best?"
"Yes Morgan, they did. Even more strange, many times it was the same 'god' they just disagreed about that rituals they used to talk to them."
"It may seem so to us, but remember, these were primitive times."
"Miss, how do you know that gods do not exist?" Jeff had chimed up from the back of the class.
The teacher took a few moments to think about the question. Questions from Suzy and Jeff could be confusing for her and the rest of the class; after all, they didn't have the luxury of working implants.
"Because we live in an age of reason, we know they were made up. Science explains the actions that people used to attribute to gods."
"But have you proved they do not exist?"
"You don't need to prove that they don't exist."
"But didn't you say that the way science works is that a theory is treated as valid until it is disproved. If you haven't disproved the existence of gods, then the theory that they exist must be valid."
"You're not a believer, are you Jeff?" The Teacher was nervous.
"No, I think these gods were made up, but until you can prove it one way or the other, I think I'll not commit."
"So you are an agnostic, good for you. Will you be offended if we don't convert to your beliefs?" This was greeted by a vague titter of amusement by the class and a nod of agreement from the boy at the back. Being just in their teens, the students were not given the full effect of the emotion blocking chemicals. In an attempt to engage with the students, the teachers, likewise had a limited, but existent, range of emotions.
Ms. Bell was relived; interactions with Jeff and Suzy had the potential to derail the whole class. Only part of it was that she knew both children were much more intelligent than she was. It wasn't putting herself down, she, like all adults bred to be educators were highly intelligent, but these two had been bred to great leaders. Genetically, Suzy would have been destined for high government, even World Leader. Jeff was bound to end up as one of the leading scientists at one of the Great Universities; it wasn't out of the question that he would end up in charge of the Lunar Research Base, the first British born person to hold the office in four generations.
Then the accident happened. The two children were partnered together investigating electric fields between two conducting plates. It wasn't the student's fault. It wasn't the teacher's fault, although he had felt responsible for them, as they were in his classroom. There was a fault in the high tension power supply unit that they were using, and when they turned it up to maximum power, electricity arced from the supply to the closest things it could find, these happened to be the students' heads.
If they believed in miracles, the doctors would have described the pair's survival as miraculous. The implants took the brunt of the electricity and were totally destroyed. Experts stated they couldn't be repaired and could not be removed. The latest version of the implant, the one that had now been around for one hundred and seventy-five years was designed to be inserted at birth and to grow with its host. It was impossible to implant a new one, so the children were left cut off from The Cloud.
This was worrying for everybody. The last man to cut himself off from The Cloud was the man who called himself The Last Artist. He had a fault in his implant that allowed him to call on his imagination and emotions. In his head, he was able to call up the works of every artist who had ever existed. He could see colours and textures and emotions that nobody else could understand. He painted with a passion not seen for centuries, creating masterpieces that rivalled any in history. He created for an audience that was not capable of appreciating him, paintings that demanded an emotional response from people unable to emote.
His one last act was to shut himself away from the rest of The Cloud, to great images just from his own mind. After travelling the world, he locked himself up deep underground in a nuclear bomb shelter to work; only his associates on the outside could open up the shelter. Three months later, they came looking for him, and found The Last Artist dead, he had hung himself, unable to cope without the twenty billion voices in his head from The Cloud. Without the reassurance of that he wasn't alone and was appreciated, he quickly went mad and took his own life.
The concerns were that this would happen to the children, but they seemed to cope remarkably well. Unable to access The Cloud meant that they would never be accepted into employment, except for manual labour which they were not genetically suited for. Still, they had to be given an education; after all, they were genetically entitled to it.
It was credit to the children, with distractions like imagination and emotions, that they were able to contribute in class at all. They had been given a number of what a technician had called Computers, constructed from sets of parts kept in the Great Store, most of which dated back to the twenty-first century. While it was slower than the implant, had no mind control and couldn't store a fraction of the information of its smaller counterpart, it allowed them some degree of access to The Cloud. The children had learnt to use a keyboard and mouse to input information; they were fascinated by the whole tactile experience of it.
But there was an elephant in the room. One that they didn't seem to care about, but the staff did. What was their future? It was certain that they would go into the breeding program, that was obvious, but then what?
One of the biggest problems the world had faced was overpopulation, and the emotional backlash to anybody who tried to get a handle on it. With the implant controlling emotions, the concepts of love and attraction were out of date. Reproduction came under the eyes of the rationalists, who saw that two things were important. The first was not increasing the population, but also they needed to create babies that were genetically suited to the roles they were needed for.
.... There is more of this story ...