The Missing Year, Part 1

graphic of a circle made of notch marks with a vertical bar through it

[It’s night inside Gabriel Tau’s high-rise penthouse.]

GABRIEL: Record. Transition keynote, vee one.

GABRIEL: Good morning. Let’s get right to it—a lot has changed since… Ah. Delete.

[digital processing sound]

GABRIEL: Great change always comes with equal parts tragedy and triumph. The former nourishes the latter. To put it simply, we’ve lost one of the great engineers of our time. Circumstances are unclear at this time, so we won’t assume the worst. But neither can we expect…

[exhale]

GABRIEL: Pause. Save as “Adnan Lem intro.”

[digital processing sound]

GABRIEL: Record. Transition keynote, vee two.

GABRIEL: Real change always comes with challenges. As a wildly fluctuating climate, widespread disease and lawlessness threaten to impede our way of life in the Bay Area, it’s become increasingly important to protect the privileges of citizenship.

GABRIEL: The city is the most basic unit of our civilization. It’s the laboratory within which we construct our experience of the present, drawing from the lessons of the past and the dreams of tomorrow. Protecting our city means protecting civilization, and that means every human being bears a responsibility to become the key to their own city.

GABRIEL: Ladies and gentlemen, Implant Tech is getting an upgrade and it’s going to be the most widely available piece of firmware since the smartphone. What we’re keeping is the seamless experience of having access to your digital life through your neural network. What we’re losing is the lack of compatibility and downtime…

GABRIEL: Pause. Back up. Stop after “neural network.” Overwrite.

[digital processing sound]

GABRIEL: But now our technology is going to do more than unlock your own life. It’s going to help you become the key to the city of San Francisco. Your implant will be the gateway to so much more than just your home. Your library, your favorite coffee shop, public restrooms, playgrounds, restaurants, gyms and clubs of every stripe throughout the city—it’s all accessible and managed via one central digital account, all accessible with barely a nod.

GABRIEL: If you’re unfamiliar with Implant—

GABRIEL: Pause. Delete last fragment.

GABRIEL: Record.

GABRIEL: Your very self is the password. We are reimagining this city to reveal itself to you, its citizens—and to you, only.

GABRIEL: Our rollout plan is broad and widely available. We’re also offering discounts up to 20% for underrepresented and reduced income citizens. Everyone deserves a chance to be part of a brighter future.

GABRIEL: Pause.

[long silence, breathing]

GABRIEL: Record.

[digital processing sound]

GABRIEL: Before we adjourn, I want to thank the innovators who made this moment possible. You may not all be with us today, but your contributions live on.

GABRIEL: End. Save as Transition Keynote Final. Delete “Adnan Lem intro.”

[digital processing sound]

GABRIEL: Message Center—block all incoming messages from Devandra Miller. Duration, one week. Power down.