Horizon is based in the midst of media wonderland Los Angeles, and they’ve managed to score many exclusive contracts for dealing with the development of California.
With charismatic ex-simstar Gary Kline at the helm, Horizon specializes in anything that can be used to manipulate opinion (media, advertising, entertainment, social networking, etc.), along with consumer goods and services, real estate and development, and pharmaceuticals. Its corporate culture is “people-centered,” and employees are well taken care of and encouraged to develop their talents and pursue their interests on company time—as long as the corp reaps the profits. They had been renowned as being technomancer friendly, but a series of events culminating in a massacre in Las Vegas helped people understand that even the nicest of megacorps can spin out of control.
What Really Happened
P2.0 is a win-win-win development for Horizon. Subscribers pay to create their own show, be it a video blog, documentary, edits of security footage, etc. Viewers then pay a smaller fee to access the user-created content. Finally, corporations pay for advertising time on the more popular shows. All Horizon has to do is maintain the system. This, of course, is a simplified management view of P2.0. The network has other user bells and whistles for users such as photo and video tagging, awards, and a ranking system P2.0 is as fundamental to media etiquette in the CalFree State as a suit and tie is for business. The CMS ranking system has become a measure of the new media aristocracy. Those who don’t have P2.0 are merely subscribers / subjects and unworthy of conversation
Life Management Guide (LMG)
As part of their driving goal of eliminating social ills, Horizon has initiated a program called Life Management Guide to identify and catalog citizens with social problems (alcoholism, theft, poverty, etc.). These tags push targeted advertising that, in theory, guides troubled citizens toward rehabilitation programs, as well as subtly blocking out temptations that encourage bad behavior.
Horizon introduced the test program in limited segments of the existing P2.0 network in order to use the commlinks of P2.0 customers to send updates and receive test results.
The Life Management Guide is beta software used to record a user’s habits, determine what are the “bad behaviors,” and guide the user to a better life through the omission of temptations and projection of better options. Cynics would call it a denial of choice through illusion of reality. The designers counter that since AR can already be manipulated by the user to the point of contradicting reality, this software falls in the middle ground, offering the additional benefit of helping users move toward a better life. Consensus approved the development of the software with the Singularity Affiliate group Augmented Therapy.
Life Management Guide gives positive praise through users’ commlinks via a virtual friend if there is one, or using “attaboy” messages when the user is making a good choice on health. Before a user attempts a negative habit, such as smoking, drinking, or using drugs or BTLs, LMG attempts to remove any AROs from those items, block any advertisement relating to those negative habits, and, when possible, obscure them on the image link. If that fails, then LMG delivers messages on rehabilitation programs such as AA that blend in with the AR advertising spam most runners are used to. When purchasing items that are part of negative habits, LMG tags the transaction with messages such as how bad the habit is for your health, or how many years in prison the buyer may earn if caught in the middle of the transaction. If the commlink has virtual weather, LMG attempts to use lighting changes to guide the user to places where more positive choices are available. Users may quit negative behaviors because they heed the messages, or just to avoid the annoyance of the constant spam. The designers are fine with either option.
In testing their new software, LMG was introduced to criminals in a Horizon owned rehabilitation center (jail) to see if the programming was strong enough to overcome the high re-offending rate of prisoners. The LMG for these test subjects were given additional tags and functionality, the most important being U56. U56 would identify people who were dangerous to the user’s chance of rehabilitation and overpowered their sensory input with undesirable feelings to make them avoid the individual. However, early testing was too strong and mixed with some subjects mental health issues, created a violent paranoia in certain test subjects. Three of these got out.
Meanwhile, a more streamlined and eventual public release version of the LMG was installed in select “beta” testers. The A-Kidz, a popular P2.0 reality show gang had this software. Most of their fancy tech and ware were given by Horizon who where their sponsors and did not know of the additional program in their P2.0 network. Horizon had it all handled until some of the A-Kidz broke away and made their own gang (Bacchus and co). At first they were fine to watch, having two sample groups was useful but when Bacchus managed to get close to Christie Daee, the LMG software hijacked the recording software being used and attached to the singer’s P2.0 account. Horizon were aware immediately and went into damage control. They couldn’t remove the program remotely but one of the techs activated a flag called: Do not contact, on hers to stop her from getting the spam and blockouts. Unfortunately, the flag he chose was one that was designed for rehabilitation and in the design code, it equated to: U56 Undesirable / unable to rehabilitate. The program should have been isolated but the U56 code clashed with the P2.0 software regarding inner circle friends and the program jumped to the runners when she invited them to her closed friend network. In the days around this proliferation of the software, Christie only had contact with a couple of people in her closed friends circle:
- The singer: Whyte Nyte
- Her manager, Guiles
- The runners
With new U56 codes now popping up in LA, the escaped criminals honed in on them with frightening paranoia, they believed these individuals were out to harm them and had to be destroyed all costs. They worked together as they were in rehab together and were effectively in their shared closed circles but even then, their deteriorating mental state made much worse by the LMG software eventually pushed them over the edge, the violent acts on the freeway causing them to turn on each other.
If the software ever makes the streets, you are sure that Horizon could spin the amazing health benefits of such advanced life management software and blindside people to the horrible truth: the software is just another way to remove conscious choice along with the implications of profiling, shopping and interest control and hundreds of other uses when the general public allows a corp to tell them what is good and what is not.
The events will be covered up, you have been paid for your silence and the evidence removed from your devices and they will offer flat denials to any allegations. But, if any of this was ever come to light, it would be a financial and public black eye to one of the most tech savvy companies in the world.