Upgrade

For an integrated experience, the author suggests listening to:
Heavyweight By Infected Mushroom w
hilst reading

Upgrade

Walking down the street, you can't help but succumb to the onslaught.  Billboards flashing, speakers screaming.

“Newer”, “Faster”, “Stronger”, “Brighter”, “Safer”, “Thinner”, “Buy now”, “Upgrade, upgrade, UPGRADE!.”

I do need a new titanium exoskeleton, that would keep me safer. Yes, my download times are a tad slow.

All that you need to do is think ‘purchase’ and the upgrade begins automatically. Ever since Integration Corp (iCorp) released their direct cranial bio-integration software update, Integrates no longer need to use their hands. We just see, think and accept - simple.

For months leading up to the release, it was the only promotion worth knowing about. Delivered directly to the inner ear, iCorp’s spokesbot endlessly educated us about the benefits of the upgrade, letting us know why we couldn’t live without it.

“With iCorp’s latest offering, upgrading has never been easier. Simple and elegant, just think and accept. The endless tedium of manually selecting and clicking is a thing of the past, you need never use your hands again. Remember, you made the choice. This is the next step in your evolution.”

There are upgrades and patches for everything. The latest in memory retrieval software comes in the form of cranial Integration. We all remember the tag line.

“Never forget a thing.”

Remember the hilarious advertisement projections showing those skinny, sickly Naturals stumbling and stuttering for words?

“Errrr, ummm, hang on, it's err... right on the tip of my tongue.”

Pitiful.

Logos and slogans are plastered throughout. Bright fluorescent displays across every walkway, splashed on the side of buildings, over the roads and on all consumer products. iCorp injects each with a code, specifically designed to slightly alter the advertisement in terms of colour, tone and texture to optimally appeal to the individual Integrate that is observing it.

It's everywhere, intimate and unescapable. It's in your dreams. Ghostly voices whispering into your ear details about the latest in surgical-neuro enhancement and Integration technology. New top of the line cars, the latest celebrity trends and gossip.

How can I be like them?

‘'With this upgrade of course!”

The Naturals hate the flashing neon lights, it drives them insane. Epileptic seizures and chronic headaches are common place for them. Dirty filth, littering the sidewalk, foam bursting and frothing from their mouths. They had a choice, just like the rest of us. Now I have to deal with them and their constant begging. Disgusting.

Their bodies are so meagre, so feeble, so unevolved. Constantly faulty and failing on them. Those butcher shops they call hospitals do prolong their pathetic lives somewhat, but at what cost? Even if they manage to scrape together enough to buy their fragile ‘organic’ bodies some more time, the required procedures are unimaginably traumatic. Could you fathom having to feel pain? Suffer the chronic debilitation of crude medications with their endless amounts of contradicting side effects? For what? Just to prolong the inevitable slide into old age and death? No thank you!

They had the option to evolve. They made the choice to stay Natural. Look at them now, scurrying to survive, scuttling and slinking around in a futile attempt to satisfy their basal needs. It’s woeful really.

Sleeping. One of the last remnants of our past. An affliction of the Naturals. At least iCorp allows us to shop and upgrade whilst we sleep. I cannot fathom how they can lie there, unconscious to the world and just dream. Such a waste of time.

Dreams are nothing but low-resolution, nonsensical hallucinations created by a single, fallible individual. To think that at one time there was a debate amongst the leading bio-integration experts as to the efficacy of a ‘Natural’s dream’. Thankfully, that nonsense was done away with.

For the newly Integrated, iCorp created downloadable Interdream software, iDream. It enables those who are struggling with their recent transition to complete Integration to relive the nostalgia of their former (lower) existence. iDream searches the Integrate’s memory stores for the most intriguing, exotic and pleasing tidbits. It then proceeds to assimilate them with iCorp’s mainframe databank, drawn from all current iDream users.

Constantly updating and expanding its library of source data, iDream provides each user with a unique, re-watchable and completely personalised iDream. The fully customisable nature of the product even enables users to select the theme, timeframe and characters they wish to see.

However, like most Integrates, I only close my eyes to peruse the latest upgrades, trends and endorsements. How else can I be sure that I am abreast of my contemporaries?

All advertisements are completely targeted. iCorp remotely scans your vital signs; calculating muscle fatigue and hydration; measuring heart rate, neurotransmitter levels and brain waves. They track your activities, purchasing habits and location. They then on sell this information in real time to the most appropriate corporations. Integrates are never left wanting, never left needing and are never abandoned.

“You made the choice, desire is a thing of the past. No longer must you suffer the Natural’s burden. No more will you be left waiting; hungry and unfulfilled.”

Had a few too many last night? You will wake up with the latest in hangover cures greeting you as your alarm goes off.

“Our scans are detecting large levels of toxins in your body as well as severe dehydration... would you like a pill for that?”

If you refuse, you are greeted with a different approach.

“You are an Integrate, it's your right not to suffer. Leave the physical woes to the Naturals. You made the choice to evolve. Why should you be the one to languish in agony?”

Hey, my stomach is queasy and my head does feel constricted. Besides, they are right. Why should I suffer? I'm not one of them. I never have to feel bad.

The pill is purchased and the pain is muted. All is well.

You look up at your mirror and see yourself, then you see what you could look like. Everything is customisable. Projection overlays show eye implants and complexion changes in real time. Don't like your grey hair? It's gone. Feel like wearing a moustache today? It's yours. You can be anything you like, desire has been eliminated.

Thanks to the technologically unrivalled capabilities of iCorp’s latest neuro-ocular implant upgrade, iSee, identity is no longer relegated to variations on the ‘Natural’ look. The iSee will project your virtual avatar directly into the ocular cortex of all adjacent Integrates, whilst simultaneously receiving and processing their signal.

“Tired of the antiquated, Natural look? Feel like revitalising your image? Want to be more than you are? Fed up with the limited options currently available? Upgrade now! You made the choice. Why should you be restricted?”

The possibilities are literally infinite. Just think and select, instant transformation. No Integrate tolerates waiting.

The moment your car breaks down; your windshield is covered with local mechanibot shops.

“We see that you have a model VX611, we can have a mechanibot out to fix it within five minutes.”

“Thank you for your business, would you like a complementary stimul-dose while you wait?”

“Wonderful, downloading now.”

All services that involve waiting come with a stimul-dose. It’s common practice. No Integrate enjoys silence. Serenity is tiresome and tranquillity is just listlessness spelled differently. Besides, we made a choice. Why should we ever be bored?

You select ‘buy’. The familiar lights and sounds begin. An intense, never-ending kaleidoscope of colour is pushed into your mind. Incandescent, bright radiant hues. It’s like you’re witnessing the birth of the universe with your whole being. It takes you and you feed off of it, ablaze with stimulation. Brain waves are synced to the visual display in perfect harmony. Triggering, targeting, constant. Then the sound starts, binaural reverberation at its finest. Louder and louder.

It’s not really music, at least not what the Naturals call music. Guttural vocalisations combined with the drawl and twang of those acoustic ‘instruments’. It's sad really, how they persist on using their body to make sound. Clanging, bashing, tapping and pulling those physical objects with their hands. How primal. Sound is much more pleasurable through a stimul-dose.

Before you know it, the mechanibot is finished, the simul-dose is complete and you are on your way.

"Girlfriend troubles? Boss riding you too hard? We have a pill for that."

Who could ask for more? iCorp fulfils your every need. Fulfils your every desire, even those you didn’t know you had.

You turn on a tap, cleaning products are flashed.

“Fast and effortless, let a sanitarybot do the work for you.”

“You’re better than manual labour, you’re above a Natural.”

“You made the choice, leave the cleaning to the unevolved.”

Turning towards the fridge, a food-dose pops up.

“Why waste your time eating?”

“Chewing is for the Naturals, don't risk the health consequences.”

“Through extensive and rigorous scientific enquiry, iCorp, in conjunction with leading government health officials, has found a significant correlation between the act of physical eating and bio-degeneration. Heightened risk of cancer, cardiopulmonary conditions, weight gain and inevitably death are all associated with the act of eating. All Integrates are advised to transition to an all food-dose diet immediately.”

An image of a Natural smiling is projected. Its teeth are crooked, damaged and off white. It looks sickly, obese and is struggling to breathe. You watch as it shovels food into its mouth, hurriedly trying to consume its fill. A chill runs down your spine. You accept the dose.

In a matter of seconds, it is administered. A perfect mix of what your body needs. The latest food-doses even come with added olfactory stimulation. Tastes and smells far surpassing the barely palatable Natural taste spectrum are perceived. It is a whole-body experience. Phenomenal. What’s more, the hunger pains are gone and you are safe.

Amazingly, iCorp is even working on conquering death itself. There recent offering, iLive, completely integrates all neuronal connections into a bio-synthetic operating system, complete with a fully customisable titanium alloy holding shell.

“Back up now, can you afford to risk death?”

“What if your Natural body fails, as it inevitability will?”

“Live forever, live without fear.”

“Save your memories, live on, in a new mechanical body.”

“iLive, proven to be far superior to a Natural’s body; faster, stronger, safer.”

“You made the choice to evolve, why should your life have to end when your body does?”

This product is immensely popular, the masses quickly Integrated. Death? Death is just an artefact of the past. Death is just for the Naturals.

You see them convulsing, shaking, struggling to breathe. Frail and old, it's like an unrelenting force is perpetually tugging at them, pulling them down. I am grateful that my latest audio upgrade can block out their screams of agony.

I choose not to suffer, I choose not to be afraid, I choose immortality. Domination over death. Thank you iCorp.

You know, iCorp never ceases to amaze me. I was sure that the iLive would be their apex creation, but I was mistaken. Surely you have seen the promotions for the latest upgrade in bio-synthetic integration software?

“Introducing iConnect, the pinnacle of Integration technology.”

“With iConnect, Integration is finally universal. The bio-synthetic neural connection network will ensure that all Integrates are permanently linked. Users will have access to the complete sensory and neural history of the Collective, updated in real time.”

“With iConnect, Integrates will no longer be burdened with the responsibility of individual choice. Ask yourself: what rational Integrate would trust only one source when making important decisions, when they could harness the power of the collective?”

“With iConnect you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride”.

iConnect key features:
- Personality homogenisation – Never worry about differences of opinion again.
- Complete metaphysical and genetic unification – Why remain one when you can be a part of something much grander, the Collective?
- Total Collective sensorium functionality – Benefit from access to the Collective’s combined sensory data. Updated in real time.
- Shared memory and experience banks – Imagine what could be accomplished with access to all that knowledge.
- Centralised decision making – Let go of the burden of choice. How can you shoulder the responsibility all on your own?

It’s everywhere. Sales have exceeded all previous records. Total adoption, total Integration.

Only the Naturals remain apart from the Collective. Living out their separate, disconnected lives. Wandering alone, aimlessly towards their inevitable end. How can they ever know what it means to belong, to be a part of something bigger than themselves? How can they ever claim to truly understand anything beyond their own limited existences?

Those poor, flawed beings. They outright trust that their perception of the world is the objective truth. Believing without question, that their interpretation of an event is the correct interpretation. Responding violently to all those who fail to reach the same conclusions. Never realising that their different life experiences, unique genetics and idiosyncratic personalities act like a lens that alters and shapes their perception of reality.

Thankfully, iCorp has done away with those differences. iConnect’s personality homogenisation and genetic unification ensures that all Integrates have no distinguishable differences. Moreover, with access to the Collective’s shared memories and perceptions, all Integrates can be assured that their opinions are no longer limited by an individual experience. Their interpretations are infallible. Their decisions, incontestable and their judgements, irrefutable. All subjectivity has been eliminated, save for the Naturals.

Compared to the Collective, Naturals are inefficient and outdated. Their dependency on copious amounts of resources makes them a significant and unsustainable burden. Their fragile and biodegradable constitution leaves them at constant risk of a catastrophic system failure. Their operating systems are flawed and irrational. These archaic models must integrate into the collective or face systematic phasing out.

We made the choice to evolve. We made the choice to Integrate. No longer will we suffer the horrible loneliness of the individual mind. No longer will differences drive us apart. No longer will we fear.

Thank you iCorp.

Zachary Phillips

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Zachary Phillips is an Australian born writer, podcaster, vlogger, school teacher, mental health advocate, motivational speaker and martial artist. He uses these platforms to promote mental health awareness, personal development and self-discovery.
Coming from a troubled past, he began writing as a form of therapy. After finding that sharing his story helped others to move on and heal, he decided to release his first book 'Under The Influence - Reclaiming My Childhood' to the public.
It provides a personal and brutally honest account of the destructive dynamic that a drug affected and mentally ill father can have on his child.
 Zachary gives us a sacred peek into his once shattered mind, teaching us that, even against all the odds, a broken mind can not only be healed, but can go on to flourish, inspiring others along the way.  - About Under The Influence 

"I hope that my work will help to reduce the stigma around mental illness and provide some guidance to those facing similar circumstances."

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