A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
"The answer to the problem of information overload on the Net is reputations… engineer a system called a reputation server."
- Neal Stephenson
||Distributed Assembly Plant
||Bringing parts together for assembly in a crowd anonymously.
|The Voice’s feminine synthetic words came over his wireless earpiece: “Cross the street.” He obeyed and found himself moving into a crowded retail plaza ringed with national chain stores...
The Voice spoke again. “Waypoint nine attained. Stand by…stand by. Vector 271. Proceed.”
He turned in place, looking closely at a handheld GPS screen until he was facing 271 degrees. Then he proceeded at a normal walking pace as people jostled past him. “Report ready status of assembly.” The Daemon’s workshop was open for business. He slipped one hand into his E-Pouch and removed a grooved steel machine part, six inches long. He wrapped his hand around it and kept walking vector 271. “Assembly ready.”
“Prepare to tender.”
He could see the target approaching through the crowd—a twenty-something white kid in parachute pants and a sweatshirt bearing a university acronym. He had the calm, composed look of a Daemon courier. They were on a collision course as people swirled around them like random electrons. The kid extended his right hand as he came forward. They were just feet away.
“Tender assembly on phrase: ‘Hey, Luther.’ Confirm.”
The kid came right up to him, holding forward a different steel part. A cell phone headset was now visible on his close-cropped head. The kid nodded. “Hey, Luther.” Both men extended their hands and slid the steel parts together. They mated perfectly with a satisfying click.
A pleasant chime sounded over the line. “Operation complete. Twenty network credits. Demobilize.”
...As he headed back to the parking structure, the kid imagined the tactical assembly now under way; like swarming nanobots amid the mass of shoppers, the Daemon’s distributed assembly plant ran half a dozen independent lines, with no individual having knowledge of anything more than the few seconds in front of them and the mechanics of the single assembly for which they’d be responsible. The parts arrived in place at the moment they were required, The Voice vectoring them into a collision course. Assemblers came and went, passing the assembly on to the next worker in the chain after confirming completion of their step. Redundancy gave high probability that sufficient parts would arrive on station at the appropriate moment, and that waylaid assemblers could be quickly replaced. What he didn’t know was what they were building. He wondered if he’d ever know.
by Daniel Suarez.
Published by Dutton in 2009
Additional resources -
Compare to pokkecon mediated network from Maneki Neko (1998) by Bruce Sterling.
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