Efficiency Age: The Ring (Part 3)

from Casey Trimble

June 24, 2014, 8:52 p.m.

Spindles of silicon-based concrete pierced the linear trace of select earth between the New Mandelbrot and a precisely chosen site exactly 47.8 kilometers, 23.4 degrees north and west. The decision was not left to preference, but rather a mathematical consideration of the fractal structure of the cities of the continent. All cities, past and future, were located on a geometrically complex web of nodes that ensured the healthy circulation of supplies and energy between the organs of the human collective. Atop the spiny supports, machines assembled the ultra light tubes that would complete the new transport artery.

Night and day the bots executed their programming, responding to environmental cues when necessary, ever trailing their electrical tethers along. The lines of cable snaked through lengths of conduits back to the last power hub, constructed once every 0.95 kilometers. The process would take a day and 11 hours, plus or minus half an hour, at the same time that the first construction units would arrive to begin the foundation of the Banach. The schedule was only a small part of the general scheme of expansion that the Efficiency Age had created.

Meyer’s absent gaze tracked the progress of the mechanical creators of the first Mandelbrot-Banach junction on the screen. As the machines were not designed to achieve anything more than transport construction, the larger context of city growth was overseen by a team of minds at the New Mandelbrot Institute. Meyer belonged to the discipline of creators, one of the three schools found in every institute. He was responsible for translating the city layout, provided by the systems theorists, into action intellect for the machines under his charge. Coffee cups littered the periphery of the network interface. He was nearly finished.

His was only one of hundreds of tasks concerned with the development of the Banach, despite the lack of manual labor in the force. Along with the management of the project’s complex elements, several experts were consigned to the collection and study of data concerning the efficiency of the next iteration of modular solar power, the implementation of modifications to the current theory of three-dimensional foot traffic networks, and, perhaps most important, the completion of the first self-supporting ring of cities. Over the horizon, another group of transport machines were laying the foundation for the junction between the Banach and the Neumann, one of 7 other cities in the ring. The two lines would connect at a predetermined instant, and the two lines of city construction would proceed in counter-clockwise fashion.

Meyer had devoted more study to the design of construction intellect than possibly any other in the New Mandelbrot. Born and raised in the early adolescence of Efficiency Age society, he had risen to the delightful challenge of building intelligences that were designed to build. Early in his education, he had taken to the task of programming with enthusiasm, a decision that naturally channeled him into the ranks of those working between the creative discipline and the systems discipline. After twelve years, Meyer had managed to contribute significantly to the development of construction intelligences, and his methods filled an important role in the construction of each new city. Stretching out, feet propped on the table, he sighed. A swipe and a tap of the interface before him sent the newly functioning intelligence frameworks into the memory constructs of the machines. The new units were ready to ship well ahead of schedule, leaving him with a day or two to spend preparing for the upcoming celebration: the groundbreaking of the Banach, and the completion of the ring.

As he reflected quietly over the excitement of the present, Meyer called up distant reveries of the first cities built with the aid of his programming. Initiated when the circumstances mandated the development of a new population center, each continuation of the growth of the network proceeded at a stable rate. The leaders would call just before this "mitosis," a natural and understood phenomenon. The mathematicians, systems planners, engineers, and other trades of the ensemble of creative minds would crystallize by necessity, using well documented knowledge stored in the intelinet to lay out the complex structure of the new city. The core elements of the construction were paradoxically simple, based on the tenets of complex systems science, and the standard planning of cities might have led one to believe that Efficiency Age society produced highly conformed units of humanity.

A complex systems scientist would know better. Theirs was the science that could explain the emergence of complex timbres from the simpler overtones of musical instrumentation, or the development of rich flavors from the deeply understood molecular structure of common coffee. Even with the implication of standards, the environmental circumstances of each city created unique resonances, new cultures, and original experiences diverted from uniformity by the implicit chaos of nature.

Meyer’s own achievements bore witness to this unpredictability. Before his time, cities were created in a manner of hopping motions, with the establishment of a city nucleus preceding the first road from that city to the nearest neighbor. This was done through rather inefficient air travel, because it outpaced the trailblazing process at the time. Meyer’s gift was a breed of artificial intelligences that, completely devoid of human control, could erect the now widespread tube transports. This reduced construction time from several weeks to mere days, making the job nearly trivial. All that remained was to monitor and improve the intelligence of the machines, a responsibility mimicking that of human education. After the introduction of his techniques, the budgetary allotments of city theorists became fuel for other advancements.

He drew his hand over his face and yawned. The last stretch of debugging was always the most tiresome, but he couldn’t shake the emotional upwelling in his abdomen that would keep him from getting a good rest that night. It was a good thing that he would have some extra time to clean up for the parties, as his disheveled hair and prolific stubble would fail to impress any of his benefactors. Health and grooming had risen to universal adoration in the Efficiency Age, although the visible wear of concerted effort had its place as well. Perhaps he would refrain from recovering too thoroughly, if only to reflect his pride in the past month’s effort.


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