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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Cypher's Tale 22


"Where's Betty?"
"In the gym."
Shilo paused momentarily. He walked across the subdued evening office and found her, as advertised, in the gym across from the dorm room.

She blew air out through puckered lips and lowered the barbell in her left hand.
"Are you exercising?"
"Um.. I have to keep my muscles in shape or they won't be able to support the servos."
"Okay. And you know we're supposed to be at the restaurant?"
"Oh! it's late!"

An hour later found them at the Akabeko, a sushi bar with real boxes (!!!). Betty wore a red dress selected by Moe the previous year, after the latter saw the grey monotony that purported to be the former's wardrobe. It was shiny, loose, adhering to the skin when moved by fate. It fit well, it looked well, but didn't quite match Betty's athletic stride.

"If it isn't yin and yang," said Jonas by way of greeting.
Betty's hand shot up. "I'm Yin."
Shilo touched his brow. "We know."

The stereotype of insurers as dry and dull is rarely true, but it was true of Jonas. Yet this eve found him apparently full of good humor. He was quite in character. He introduced his accomplice, Black Alice.
"But you can just call me Ally."
She wore a square-textured solid black unadorned fitted tubular dress with a single ruffled mobius strip sewn about the collar and over the shoulders. Description aside, it was classical, elegant, and the latest design from D'florz. Her face was vaguely spanish, her eyes and eyeshadow and hair were black. She was thin.

Jonas wore a worn blue suit. Shilo had excavated black khakis and a red clerical collar.

The incredibly mismatched foursome was led and left in a box, around a table, in the privacy bought by inflated side dish prices. They ordered, alphabetically, Gin and Juice, Jack and Coke, tomato juice and nootropic.

Shilo sipped his stimulant cocktail deliberately until countersurveillance was finished. "So, business is looking up?"
"It's always up. If we couldn't regulate our own earnings, how could we regulate everything else?"
"True, true, but you might dip below the standard rate if trends turned against you. Say, people wanted more risk, or, no... let's say someone else come up with better algorithms? Or even customer service."
"Ah, Shilo, you know that all the models are made by least square regression to the public data set."
"Oh, true. But imagine if someone acquired better data! Hard to see that happening, since the seller would sell it to everyone. But just as a hypothetical."
Jonas thought. Sukiyaki was delivered by a bronze girl who quickly closed the panel behind her.
"Well, it would be small benefit, really. A very slight improvement in the demographics, which are quite finely resolved already."
"I guess they couldn't be resolved to the level of individuals. But let's say they were- wouldn't that be enough of an edge to pick up lotsa market share? So you get a 1% increase in margin, but huge volume increase. It'd be practicly disruptive tech."
Black Alice turned her head, propped up on an arm. She spoke around a straw. "Jonas, you know what he's thinkin."
"So what's the deal?"
"Not blackmail. That would be against our contract. But, say, a joint partnership."


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