Network Personhood

“Be careful what you think, for your thoughts become your words.

Be careful what you say, for your words become your actions.

Be careful what you do, for your actions become your character.

Your character determines your destiny.” - Attributed to many, in versions too numerous to count.

Tom had two golden weeks to bond with his son Jonny before the first day of training was upon them. He sat his son down across the kitchen table and did his best to explain.

“Son, sometimes a network…is…is…an asshole.” Tom searched Johnnys eyes for a reaction and came up empty. Johnny remained sitting perfectly straight, in obedient attention. Tom still second guessed himself when talking to Johnny, wondering what information his sons implants were feeding him.

“This isn’t always because someone set out to build a greedy, psychopathic organization. As often as not, it’s because an average sod had a brainstorm. They came up with an insight that made their world view finally click together neatly. The completed puzzle showed them at the center with their enemies below and the rest of us singing along. That brainstorm was to lay down the rules for an organization, it’s structure.

Soon enough, that organization either dies or grows into a network.

Before anyone thinks to stop it, the network is damn near impossible to change. It is on it’s own course, and it has a life of it’s own to consider. The only goals it has are to satisfy the rules that were originally laid down by that average sod, and to keep on goin’.

Now, because it grew, it’s got to have employed a lot of humans and machines - humans and machines are the lifeblood of networks. And since it’s got to keep on rolling, it’s rolling right over every other human and machine that gets in it’s way.

That’s the problem with the whole business of makin’ rules.

So once it’s done a certain amount of killin’, the network gets ranked. And that’s when people like me take notice.

All this because that guy with the brainstorm came up with a way to make greed look like fairness, or whatever the fuck he wanted it to look like. That guy is the original asshole. We don’t do anything about him.”

“why not?”, Johnny interjected.

“Because that’s your aunt Lizas job. Her and a lot of her friends.”, Tom said, “What we do is to break the connections in the network that he spawned - make it fail just often enough that the lifeblood starts leakin’ out. That’s my job, son, and because you asked me to, that’s what I’m gonna’ teach you to do.”

“But…aren’t we a network?”, Jonny asked.

“No, son. We’re a family. Everyone in our family has their own rules, and those rules die with each of us. They don’t become a network.”

Tom smiled at Jonny.

“Jonny. It’s going to be o.k. I went through this just like you did. Lets get started, o.k.?”

“Okay.”, Jonny said.

Tom reached out for the helmet on the table to place it on his head.

Johnny hesitated, then shot out a little hand to grab his dads own.

“Will it hurt you, daddy?”, John asked.

Tom paused, then smiled again, a very different smile.

“No, son.”, he said, “But it’ll pinch.” and he put the helmet on.

The helmet, the thick cable harness, the Interface system in it’s rack beside the refrigerator, and little Johnnys implants all came alive with status lights. Jonnys eyes snapped shut.

Toms body tensed for a while, then relaxed. As the sunlight through the kitchen window faded, the status lights played shadows across the room.

The training had begun.