Nothing Left to Lose

“Dr. Ahmed, please. There must be another way.” Maryam had the unfortunate distinction of being the most frequent target of identity theft in the world. After selling her biometric authentication startup to a Big Tech company for $100 billion, she disappeared for a couple years before reemerging as one of the strongest voices advocating that surveillance was the greatest human rights crisis in history.  She was roundly criticized as a hypocrite by extremists from all corners of the argument, and the attention it brought her was not positive.

She inhabited a purgatory of her own enabling.

Various elements of her own biometric data had been stolen more than a dozen times. After her handprints were hijacked they showed up at crime scenes from Caracas to Khartoum, falsely linking her to bank robberies, art theft, gunrunning, human trafficking, kidnapping, murder, and two separate illegal organ trading rings. She’d had to replace her hands with advanced prosthetics; she could afford it. Now her fingerprints changed every four hours. The fortune tellers didn’t know what to make of her.

When they replicated her voice, she was suddenly subjected to hearing herself endorse ultranationalists and eco-terrorists alike. Now her voice box emits encrypted verification codes beyond the range of human hearing.

When hackers got their hands on her blood data they developed enzymes that specifically targeted her DNA, and they delivered them with drones using facial recognition and live satellite imagery. More surgeries. More artificial parts.

“You must know the drill by now. We’ll have to replace them. If there was an alternative you would be the first to know; believe me.”

“But there’s so little of me left,” she said quietly, staring vacantly. Staring with her own eyes. The ones she’d been born with, as brown as the earth’s richest soil.

“If it’s any consolation, your vision will be much improved—enhanced, even.”

It was no consolation. She was a human ship of Theseus. “Get it over with. I have nothing left to lose.”

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