I believed that travel was complete for now, no longer necessary. Gallie had immersed herself in LA charity and Jazzy, due to the wealth of her father had been accepted into the LA teenworld and it suited me. I felt the usual displacement after a long trip but with a focus, it was easier to stay. The girls left me alone and I left them alone. Gallie and I showed each other a mutual mild interest. I spent my days and months in the office observing the growth of e-DRI. Every time I logged on I was amazed at the number of people viewing and the growing number of registered ‘Distributors’. Greedy Search Engine Optimization agencies with unlimited budgets in India, China and across South America were fed constantly from a substantial offshore nominee account ensuring a constant and growing flow of traffic. A large number of payments channelled through nominee accounts in various places were sent to a number of strategic marketing and media companies to promote e-DRI. I sat in my armchair from 8am, stopping for lunch and interruptions, totally absorbed and observing the evolution of something great. I immersed myself in debate across forums, all the time learning about grievances and hardship. Forums could be held in 38 languages but DRI encouraged its Distributors to conduct themselves in English.
Although no specific rules yet existed, DRI was a virtual kingdom where its members decided how it would run and in which direction it would evolve. I had designed the infrastructure as a virtual government and every Distributor had the right to propose structural changes. Every distributor had to post a detailed profile. On the assumption that these were true (and that issue was resolved at a later stage as DRI evolved), the Distributor was categorised and filed. The Library held all Distributor statistics and I regularly glanced through the records to see the increasing number of professionals, lawyers, doctors, politicians, bankers, IT consultants, AI consultants, computer experts, army officers, psychiatrists, teachers, scientists, sociologists. Each member could be called upon for their expertise and their response and reports posted online and filed. The library database was unlimited, growing every minute and accessible for Distributors, committees and elected officials and any issue whether technical, financial, social or political would be resolved drawing upon the incredible resource. Donations were requested and started to flow into the Finance Department run by many bankers and accountants with every transaction subject to DRI vote and every request for help subject to vote. The accounts were open for every member to see and under this enormous eye, it was almost impossible for any impropriety to take place. As DRI grew so too did the checks and balances, the systems and the infrastructure.
A Department of Artificial Intelligence was opened amid great noise, commissioned after much debate and campaigning, raising issues of progress, morality and religion but in the interests of e-DRI, it was finally approved. Nobody fully understood the significance of AI or the dangers but it was an hysterical, inevitable evolution that global organisations and governments were funding. Limited resources and competition in the global community compromised the speed of advancement of AI but the unlimited human resources of DRI and the flow and consolidation of information and knowledge from outside, synthesised an evolution from dependent child to thinking adult. DRI had become an adult, standing tall and proud, upright and intelligent.
There was an Upper House of Distributors (eUHOD) and a Lower House of Distributors (eLHOD). Each chamber had an unlimited and growing number of elected members. The Upper House members were known as eUO’s and the Lower House members as eLO’s. If you wished to become a member of the Lower House, you need to have served as an eEO (Elected Official) for at least twelve consecutive months prior to any application. Your profile had already undergone e-scrutiny and now you would be subjected to further and more extensive investigation by the Legal Department. Every day e-DRI tentacles spread further and deeper, collating masses of information through every technical and social means available. Every Elected Official was under never-ending scrutiny. Every aspect of their life in every form was available online. No DRI official was outside the gaze. The power of DRI was immense, with the ability to expose an official for everything and anything they had ever done in their lives. I witnessed how it was virtually impossible for any Distributor to hide any past action or carry out any misdemeanour. Most applications were rejected because something improper was uncovered. The few that were validated then had to campaign for election to the Lower House and they would be put to the vote after 90 days and only if they gained two thirds of the vote would they become an eLO. After five years’ service as an eLO, you would automatically move to the Upper House where you could serve for a maximum of five years.
Any Distributor could petition for a cause to be put to national vote subject to a signed petition of one hundred Distributors and global vote subject to a signed petition of ten thousand Distributors. If that petition achieved 75% of the vote with a minimum electorate of 10,000 and 100,000 respectively then a committee would be set up to compile a report for debate in the Lower House, vote and then to the Upper House for further vote. The Justice Department would consider the report and post a recommendation for e-DRI vote, national or global. Petition and vote took place in every National Forum and increasingly in the Global Forum as e-DRI grew. E-DRI was at that stage simply a voice.
Below the Houses, there were the growing Departments, Legal, Media, Publicity, Public Record, Information, Structure, Finance, IT, Welfare, Members, Admin, Justice, Education, Health, Environment, Ideas. Initially any member could propose themselves as an official of a department, submit their profile, undergo a series of tests and microscopic investigation. Their application was subject to debate and then voted on by members of the Lower House then Upper House and if they were accepted, they would be put to e-DRI vote and upon gaining minimum of 100,000 votes, they would become an eElected DRI Official, known as an eEO. The Departments were open to all members for questions and proposals. If you had an idea, you would send it to the Department for Ideas, a structural suggestion for changes to eDRI to the Department of Structures and so on and on. The eEO’s would consider all submissions, open debate and then vote by eEO’s of that Department. If the committee members considered the submission to be of national or global importance then it would be submitted to the Lower House for consideration. At any time, a Distributor could object to any decision that had been decided without vote by starting a petition and upon submission to the Legal Department of one hundred signatures, the decision would need to go to a vote.
The core strengths of e-DRI were openness and adaptability. The infrastructure was constantly adapting to the needs and demands of its members with each change under constant scrutiny. I recognised the early flaws in the system and watched in amazement at eDRI’s ability to respond and modify itself. It seemed to be spreading virally throughout the third world. Members were joining at an increasing rate daily, forums were opening, departments were overflowing and the Houses were filling to the rafters. I no longer had any impact on the site. It was an unstoppable train with the passengers collectively in control of its destiny. No single Distributor had any say. No single Distributor was of any importance. Everyone was equal and vital.
The fundamental flaws in the system were exposed and modified subject to debate and vote. Departments were organised and expanded. Committees evolved. The selection process for e-DRI officials became increasingly complex and secure. Every microscopic detail of an official’s life was available for all to see. Nothing could be hidden from e-DRI.
Three Distributors (profiles open to view) downloaded and filed a Petition of Deceit with the Legal Department. The accounts department could not reconcile certain accounts. The assumption was theft. At this point, money had been accrued and not spent. It appeared that one cent from every donation had been siphoned off into an account outside of DRI. The checks and balances in place should have prevented this but at this stage in its life, the system was young and evolving. The Legal Department compiled a report with inter-departmental co-operation. The report was clear. A notice was served and posted for the first ever e-trial of a Senor Fernando Silera, charged with the theft of one thousand six hundred dollars. Legal teams were appointed and within seven days, files were posted with the LDAF (Legal Department Archive Facility) for consideration. The prosecution team were demanding a level 4 sentence, e-Execution. The defence were asking for leniency with mitigating circumstances and a level 1 sentence. The case went before a jury of 3 million Distributors. Audio, video and written transcripts were considered in real time by the e-DRI jurors. Senor Silera had agreed to appear in person and pleaded leniency. He maintained that his mother was sick and the money was for medical bills because there was no healthcare available to his people, something he said he had been trying to bring to the National Forum. The prosecution posted his police file showing a string of convictions for theft, minor fraud and violence. The prosecution demanded a level 4 prosecution as a warning to every single Distributor that crime of any sort will never be tolerated and will be subject to the maximum sentence. The crime was undoubted and the accused had pleaded guilty. It would be a landmark decision and after both closing arguments, the jury went into the Jury Room to decide upon the level of punishment. The debate raged in all formats. Every three hours a vote took place until 75% of the vote had been reached for a level 4 sentence, e-execution.
The Legal Department issued an execution order.
Senor Fernando Silera has been found guilty of theft and sentenced to Level 4 execution by a vote of 75% of his peers. The following action has been approved and taken:
Photo placed in the Criminal Gallery
Personal bank accounts cleared
Full crime details and profile emailed to every email address within 5 kilometers of his registered address, to every family member and friend.
Incriminating information amassed by e-DRI sent to police.
Full report amassed by e-DRI sent to the police.
Three months later, a report was posted on DRI that as a result of information passed to the police, Senor Fernando Silera had been arrested and charged with theft and a series of other crimes. He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
Infrastructure changes and security upgrades were constant, membership grew exponentially. I had gone from founder to Distributor with no influence. I had created a social site within a fantasy framework with no conscious intention of anything more but what I was witnessing was an evolution of something social into something much more powerful, something political. A debate raged across forums worldwide on the subject of privacy, the right to privacy against the need for openness. The usual Big Brother argument was crushed, chewed and spat out. The concept of openness was now formally accepted as the basic principle of e-DRI. The idea of a DRI constitution was mooted and after much consideration was put before a sub-committee to be debated and consolidated by a panel of experts and then dispatched to the Legal Department for their approval and then to the Lower and Upper Houses and finally e-DRI vote.
The constitution was posted:
We the Distributors of e-DRI.com, in order to create a more equal world, do establish this Constitution for the entire population of the world.
DRI is a pure democracy.
DRI is an international government.
DRI is a redistributor of wealth and power.
All Distributors are equal.
No Distributor shall be elected to any position of supreme power.
All debate is open and free.
All information is open and free to all Distributors at all times.
Every Elected official from this day forth known as an e-DRI Official (e-EDO).
All legislative power is vested in a Lower and Upper House of Distributors. The Lower House is from this day forth known as e-LHOD and its members known as e-Elected Lower House of Distributor Official (e-LDO). The Upper House from this day forth is known as e-UHOD and its members known as e-Elected Upper House of Distributor Official (e-UDO).
There shall be no limit to the number of Distributors.
There shall be no limit to the number of House members.
The term of office will not exceed five years in the Lower House and five years in the Upper House. Combined maximum term of ten years.
Every Elected Official of e-DRI will be subject to public and complete scrutiny. The Members Department will hold records in the public domain for every Elected Official, financial, legal, criminal, welfare and public.
Every Elected Official is subject to e-DRI law and in a case of misdemeanour must be referred by no less than three Distributors to the Legal Department. The Legal Department will post a fair and balanced report in the Legal department Archive Forum. The case will go to e-trial for vote.
All e-trials will be broadcast in no less than 38 languages. All information is available in no less than 38 languages.
Justice is by jury system with no judge. There are four levels of misdemeanour, one to four (Memorandum 1). There will be no limit to the number of jurors but a minimum number of 10,000. Sentencing will be by juror vote and require 75%. (Memorandum 2). All punishment is limited to virtual punishment. A minimum mandatory sentence of a lifetime ban (Level 1) and a maximum sentence of total e-execution.
Level four is the maximum virtual punishment and will result in the immediate and automatic lifetime removal of the Distributor from e-DRI and total e-execution (Memorandum 3).
There will be no advertising or promotion on e-DRI.
e-DRI is non-revenue generating.
The idea of a Constitution filled me with fear. I just about understood that my child had left home but I couldn’t grasp the fact she was totally independent with a mind of her own and a mind that was strong and powerful. I think this was the moment that I realised DRI had come of age and was going to make an impact on the world. I wanted to tell Gallie and Jazzy but not yet.
DRI had declared itself political and would now no doubt fall within the remit of the international paranoia agencies but as the growth of e-DRI seemed to be confined to the under developed countries, I suspected it would go unnoticed.
In order to be left in peace, I set aside a few obligation days a month for other commitments, visiting friends, requests for investment and loans and I gave freely. Steve came to me with an idea that I am sure would have been of no interest whatsoever had I been prepared to listen. I stopped him before he and his team began his presentation and handed him a seven figure cheque. I walked out in mid applause. Various charities, causes and individuals here and there approached and begged. I gave to all and sundry as long as I didn’t know what it was for. Gallie opened my mail, responded, signed and managed where necessary. She understood that I was working on something in my office. She assumed that I needed privacy and knew that when I was ready I would reveal all. She hoped that it would be a new business, knowing that it was not but hoping that if she hoped enough and I knew it, it might influence the event. In almost every way she understood me except fundamentally.
I left the office because I had seen enough and I was a little afraid. Sometimes the child in me thought that if I ignored it, it might go away. I had created it and I wasn’t sure what it had become. I felt that I was letting it breathe and allowing it to find its own way in the world. I made a decision to spend some time in the real world.
“Hi babe. How’s it all going? You’re not in your office? You haven’t been in the pool for ages. What’s going on? I’ve hardly seen you for months. When are you going to tell me what it is you’ve been doing?”
“I keep telling you. Nothing really. Just research.”
“Please. Don’t treat me like that. Jesus Goris, you went travelling for a year and I said nothing, you spend month after month behind closed doors in your office and I said nothing. Do you really expect me to believe that? Is that really what you want to tell me? I think I deserve better.”
“You know I gave Steve money, well I’m researching for him. It’s stuff about equality and the use of information and the power of the internet to bring justice to….”
“Okay, okay. Better you don’t tell me. I can’t hear your preaching again. I’m just happy you’re seeing a bit of daylight. Seriously Goris, don’t you get bored? All day in a room on your computer.”
“No it’s amazing. I’ve never felt so free. Anyway I thought we’d spend some time together, you me and Jazzy. I’ve kind of finished my project. At least for now.”
I had finally come out of my office and mildly engaged in LA life for the sake of my family, so I told myself. Appearances were that I had returned to a type of normal life, acceptable to Gallie but when I couldn’t sleep I returned to the office and logged on. I slept little these days. I donated time to LA out of love for the girls. Some of my time I gave to Steve and his bunch of money hunters. A little bit of time to Gallie’s charity stuff. But always drawn back to DRI, to witness the growth, simply unable to keep away. The rate of expansion was astounding but nothing was ever mentioned in the media, at least not in the US. Occasionally I asked someone if they’d heard of it and not one person had. The third world was of no real significance for now.
I was outside of everything and everyone that I once loved and still lived. I held hands with Gallie, I made love to her, I joked with friends, I invested when asked, I loaned and donated, I wined and dined, I went to the cinema with Jazzy, I watched tv, I played golf, I swam, I pissed and I shat but all this without Goris. Goris was elsewhere and Gallie had disappeared. Nevertheless we shared a life of sorts, parties and friends, functions and events, Jazzie, breaks and holidays and weddings and funerals but above all we shared time. My fatherhood had substantially gone, my marriage was vague and my friends avoided me. I tried. I really tried. Day after day, months then years playing the role floating in a void that just seemed to get deeper and deeper but not in depression or anger. It was no male, mid-life crisis. It was a whole life crisis and I felt a very mild sickness every day, sick from having too much chocolate.
I found a kind of lifeless peace in doing nothing and seeing few people. Gallie and Jazzy were completely sucked into the jet set lifestyle. Gallie doing what I had been expected to do, Jazzy connected to social networking and pool parties and when I started to suffocate, I left. Gallie and Jazzy seemed to accept that this was a consequence of my crisis but for me it was purpose and release from nothing and allowed me to breathe in the vacuum. They didn’t resist my constant travelling, back and forth. Gallie had given up not because we no longer loved each other but because she accepted that she couldn’t fight whatever it was.
I walked across country and continent, through Asia and Africa, South America and Europe and I stopped along the way to talk and I found that the virus was slowly spreading. At first, it struck in large towns and cities, in internet cafes and offices and slowly it spread from the towns and cities to the villages, spreading through migrants and students and social networks and suddenly with every step along the way, it seemed that someone else had joined and then it appeared that many were infected. Internet cafés that sprung up in every hole had someone logged on. Tv and newspaper featured e-DRI. Schools were teaching the principles of e-DRI and universities debated the potential. I walked faster and faster into a run until I arrived back home, unaware that the launch of e-DRI.com was imminent. I was a Welfare department e-EDRIO. Could it be that e-DRI was so intelligent that it gave me the honour of launching the ship? There were more than one billion Distributors and I was selected. Was it coincidence?