The Guguniverse

The language of the creators

Within a week, the victors had rebranded themselves as The History Company and introduced their new algorithm, “the only viable option” for the preservation of History. They assured governments that there was nothing to worry about, managed to bring some new investors on board, and pushed the new code into production.

Unfortunately, the speed of the new algorithm couldn’t equal that of their public relations. The optimizations were well below expectations, leaving engineers scratching their heads and the public unimpressed. History could now reach almost all of North America and Europe, but adding more regions would overtax the servers. Coverage of Africa, Asia and South America was left on indefinite hold. Only Antarctica, where not much was happening beyond breaking ice shelves and rapidly-melting glaciers, was added to the expansion plans. “Never forget the environment” was the motto, and it included historized polar bears and penguins. This was no more than a publicity stunt and didn’t placate anyone, except for a few oceanographers and climate scientists.

As if putting off the most populous parts of the world wasn’t enough to create animosity against them, History’s support for non-European languages was abysmal. Speech recognition, the capacity for turning spoken words into written text, was important both for recording the world (or “historizing it), and for accessing the information (or “replaying” it). Major European languages worked well, but History struggled to understand almost anything else. Replaying any part of history containing badly-supported languages resulted in garbled up audio, or the reproduction of entirely wrong words. It was clear that to be properly remembered by History, one had to speak the language of its creators.

Irritated, India and China joined forces to work on their alternative History, one where their peoples and languages were first class citizens. Other countries joined their effort, and soon the so-called “Asian History”, an answer to the North-Atlantic hegemony over human knowledge, went live.

This was not met without controversy. At first, its need was questioned purely on technical grounds, and scientific journals were filled with papers claiming the supremacy of one version of History over the other. But that was just a facade, and soon debates moved from computer science conferences to political forums. Western governments felt it necessary to intervene and publicly support The History Company. Technological dominance was a part of it, but their main concern was controlling which version of History would be taught to future generations.

The company was happy to benefit from the resources that came with that assistance. In exchange, they worked together with development cooperation agencies to promote digital infrastructure projects in Africa and the rest of the Americas. Asian governments didn’t stay far behind, offering assistance in their own ways. Promises of lifting people from their “digital poverty” were soon made and agreements with local governments signed. Cameras were sprinkled over all major cities. Personal communication devices, designed to continuously historize everything in their surroundings, were handed out to almost anyone who asked for them. Natural resources were extracted to build new datacenters that promised many new jobs, but employed very few people. The era of centralizing the World’s information had started.