Peak Democracy, subtitled, "Data Is Power," by G.D. Leon, is set two decades in the future. It’s an era in which the myriad consequences of our nescient reliance on artificial intelligence, social media, 24-hour surveillance, and corporate oversight have come home to roost. Two large corporate entities share a monopoly on practically everything that humans rely on.
Ostensibly free, the average American is enslaved by debt, terrified of doing anything that might upset the debt holders, who could easily destroy their lives. Loan insurance companies retain passports to prevent debtors from fleeing the country. It’s a claustrophobic and too-believable world in which news is filtered to avoid disruptive or unacceptable commentary. Sound familiar?
Against this backdrop, August Remules, an executive of one of the two mega-corporations, finds himself entwined in both the clandestine aspirations of his corporate overlords and a handful of “resistance” cells. One offers him power, the other a better, freer world. His actions affect not only his future, but the futures of his family members, who are effectively corporate hostages, and it’s not long before his decisions start to tear his family apart.
There are some interesting feats of technology envisioned by the author, such as contact lenses that change colors to reflect their wearer’s mood and AIs that can almost perfectly imitate the voice of anyone you know. Concepts that are fascinating and unsettling.
Peak Democracy is a pertinent story, given our current willingness to assume massive personal debt, our almost unconditional embracement of artificial intelligence and corporate monopolies, and our implied consent to be constantly monitored in the name of “security.” The story is great fiction. Let's hope it remains fiction.