Guiding my car into the traffic, I desperately try to recall the phone conversation and get my head into the game. Looking at my watch I can’t believe it’s four in the morning. Why the hell is there so much traffic ? Does this city ever sleep? Maybe it’s some mass conspiracy to get up early and piss me off? I worm my way across the city changing lanes like an 80s video game before a set of lights fast approaches. I decide to Steve McQueen it!
I have no idea if Steve McQueen ever went through red lights with his hand on the horn and his eyes half closed, but if he did he certainly wasn’t driving an F reg Fiesta. Look I admit it, I watched ‘Bullitt’ last night….and I might be getting a little carried away. The sound of me leaving half the exhaust pipe on a speed hump, brings me back to reality. I bet Steve never had that problem in his Mustang. He’s wasn’t that cool anyway, I am a spy….well I work for them !
The call was short, to the point and automated, which is great, just bloody marvellous. The office has a new computer controlled Hive, or situation room as we used to call it, before we went all American. The whole system is basically an A.I. run network that enables voice activated communication and file retrieval. Just what does all that mean ?, let me explain.
Rather than conduct a computer search, perhaps phone down to archives, request older files to be sent up, act like civilised human beings. Everyone in the comms room now sits yelling at their computer screens and swearing not so quietly under their breath.
The rational behind this step change, was to give agents in the field the same resources that they have at H.Q. This is supposed to be an improvement on the age old system of having a dedicated team of individual backing them up, cross referencing and analysing the latest date before offering them a range of options. Now, we let the bastard child of Siri and Alexa make the decisions, because that’s not going to give us any problems what so ever.
In order for the system to work everyone has to be linked in. This is done via apps on smart watches and phones. In themselves, the Apps are innocuous and cannot be traced back to central in anyway, If the other side get hold of them, or the devices are lost, they are useless. This, however, does little to reassure the tech department, who are in the firm belief that this is the worst thing in the entire history of bad ideas, specifically those involving phones, computers and watches.
To be honest I don’t really know how it all works. I once asked one of the computer guys and it was at least five minuets before I realised he wasn’t speaking another language. If the tech boys think there’s something iffy about it then thats good enough for me.
I never really been into the whole smart phone thing, I much prefer a pager. They might be straight out the 80’s but they are nigh on possible to hack. They are passive receivers, incapable of relaying information back to a base station, the upshot is they can’t relay GPS information and therefore can’t give away your location. Mobile phones on the other hand are a bloody nightmare. The vast majority of phones have a GPS tracker built in, whether it’s activated or not, it’s just a case of turning it on, which can be done remotely, which is just blood marvellous. Even if you can disable this, and we have, smart devises are constantly pinging the nearest mast, jumping from cell to cell as you move around. To find a users location all you’d have to do is triangulate the signal from the overlapping areas covered by each mast and hey presto instant agent finder. It’s not pinpoint but uncomfortably close enough.
If that’s not bad enough, you have an army of social media pitted against you. Facebook and Instagram both use tracking data or location drops. From our point of view, instagram is the best, what can be better, when trying to locate someone, than having an actual picture of their location. And people willing hand this stuff over !, it would have cost us a fortune to set up a network like that.
What I would give for my pager and my old Nokia, instead I have ‘Moreen.’ Unfortunately its not a fancy acronym, when describing it in an e-mail, one of the tech guys misspelt moron and, well it just sort of stuck. Much to the displeasure of the management, we’ve reconfigured the system to respond to this.
“Moreen, replay last message.”
“PLAYING LAST OF THE MOHICANS”
The film score starts blasting out of the phones tiny speaker.
“No, last message.”
“…..IN A BOTTLE BY THE POLICE.”
I ring the office but find the line constantly engaged. It’s now 4.30 a.m, no one useful is going to be up yet.
“Moreen, why did you call me?”
“4 A.M. IS AN OPTIMUM TIME.”
“Said who ?”
“EARLY TO BED EARLY TO RISE.”
“I hate you.”
“PLAYING KELIS – I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW.”
I start singing, ironically, this somehow seems fitting for the moment.
Science fiction writers prepose that machines will eventually take over the world……what the hell do they know !