Publication: May 13, 2021
Page count: 365
ISBN: 978-1-7361641-0-5 (Ebook - Mobipocket), 978-1-7361641-1-2 (Paperback)
Publisher: Quovabiz Inc.
Price: 8.99 USD (Ebook), 15.99 USD (Paperback)
A glimpse of a future that may be right around the corner.
Tech thriller Catch-42 offers a mind-blowing tour of potential uses for AI, biotech, quantum computing, and robotics, all within a suspense-filled story packed with unexpected twists.
Dan is an ordinary guy, scrambling to make a living, who has the most extraordinary dream. A mysterious voice from the future asks for his help. He finds himself transported to a technological wonderland where everyone’s dreams can come true. Could this be nirvana, a peaceful and clear state of mind, or is this life destroying the one thing that makes us human? Whose vision of the future should Dan believe: that of the New World Order of WeYou, or the revolution of an underground movement called Teccupy?
Before Dan can make his choice, he must learn how we got from here to there. We are with Dan at every moment as he is forced to choose sides and think the unthinkable, make the impossible possible, and turn a hopeless situation into a solvable problem in his search for the ultimate catch-42.
Brimming with current scientific findings, Catch-42 is a novel like no other that raises fundamental and philosophical questions whose answers depend on us all.
What does Catch-42 mean/ refer to?
Are we heading toward a utopian or dystopian future? Felix’s mission is to motivate as many people as possible to do their part to make our future a world worth living in – for everyone.
What kinds of fundamental questions should we be asking ourselves about the future as we enter into the post-Covid-19 era?
Why is dystopia (1984, The Road, The Giver, The Handmaid’s Tale, Hunger Games, Divergent and Westworld) so popular?
At age 18, Felix decided to reinvent himself. He can share reasons for his turnaround and offer advice to young people who are on the verge of going out on their own.
How close are we to some tipping points in converging technologies like AI, biotech, genetic engineering, nanotech, robotic, or quantum computing?
Humanoids: How quickly will they become part of our everyday lives? Or are they already?
Surveillance capitalism: How far will companies and governments go?
“We added some new letters to the alphabet of life. Catch-42 turns these new letters into a fascinating story about technology, our society, and future.” —Floyd E. Romesberg, Chemist, Synthetic Biologist, TED Speaker
“Creative, inventive, an enjoyable read. Stretched my thinking with an outstanding understanding of emerging technologies and what's possible today, coupled with a futuristic mindset that challenges the reader to explore what's real and what's right.” —Michael Fulton, Academic Director of Digital Executive Education at The Ohio State University
“In Catch-42, Felix Holzapfel spins his deep understanding of today's most important technology trends into a gripping narrative about choice, ethics, and the nature of humanity—and shows us that the future will truly be what we make it.” —Greg Verdino, Futurist, Author of Never Normal
“Like it or not, technology will rapidly change our world. Catch-42 demonstrates why it is so important that all of us get involved in the decision-making process that is nearly upon us.” —M. Sean Coleman, Author of Netwars: The Code
“Catch-42 is not a classic page-turner but a demanding idea-turner. The novel covers many trending topics and important current questions. You might need some time to read it, but it’s worth every second.” —Brett Greene, Founder, New Tech Northwest
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Thinkers 360 recognized Felix Holzapfel as a Top 10 Global Thought Leader in Digital Transformation. During the last two decades, Holzapfel has been privileged to support many global players on their way to the digital age. While he has published several books about technology, trends, and the shift in our media landscape, Catch-42 is his first novel and a book he has wanted to write for a long time. Having sold his digital marketing agency to one of the world’s leading IT services providers, he now has time for this passion project.
To learn more, visit www.felixholzapfel.com.
Website and Social Media:
12) Kim Li
Founder and CEO of the WeYou Foundation
“You’re now part of my real world within the real world of WeYou. My personal real world is based on all my conscious and subconscious wishes, needs, and preferences. We also created special AIs to collect additional data from the brains and real worlds of all other humans to merge with my personal preferences. Without this additional information, WeYou couldn’t create a perfect world for me. Why? Because people don’t know what they really want. They need help to reach their absolute fulfillment. This applies even to me, and I’m famous for knowing exactly what I want.”
Kim points to the window, where he was standing a few minutes earlier. “Just look outside of the window. That view makes me happier than anything I’ve seen in my life. The light, the buildings, the sky, the clouds . . . Everything is perfectly orchestrated and in absolute harmony to make me feel as good as I can feel. You won’t find a single detail that could be improved. It’s perfection at its best.” Kim pauses long enough for his words’ full meaning to unfold within my mind.
“But this isn’t the end of the story. Because you are now part of my real world, WeYou takes all your conscious and subconscious wishes, needs, and preferences into account, and, in conjunction with all the information countless AIs have gathered from the brains and real worlds of all other users, creates the perfect setup. WeYou computes all that information to merge your real world and my real world into one place that perfectly suits both frameworks. If this sounds complicated, it’s because it is.”
This explains why entering Kim’s real world feels perfect for me, too. Is there any point where our two worlds merge, a seam that joins them? I can’t find any. Our worlds really feel seamless.
“Exactly. This perfect feeling might even lead to scenarios where we share an experience that looks, feels, and smells different to each of us. WeYou can synchronize every aspect so no one will realize any discrepancies, and these scenarios will feel comfortable and natural for both of us. The system simultaneously creates a perfect world for each of us, yet our perfect worlds can be different because we, as individuals, are different. The real world part of WeYou is all about You, and that applies to every individual. Our goal—mine, HAIEC’s, WeYou’s, and everyone else’s who helps run the universe of WeYou—is to follow the NWOII rule of total freedom and fulfillment to ensure that everyone is as fulfilled as possible.
“Our goal is ambitious. Satisfaction takes many forms and means something different to each individual. Sometimes fulfillment for one person is in conflict with fulfillment for another. In the past, these conflicting desires could not be reconciled. Within WeYou, these problems, or most of them, have been solved. Finding the lost key will enable us to address them all.”
Kim looks into my eyes. Some say the eyes are the window to the soul, and Kim makes me feel like he’s just entering my window.
“Until we solve these and other problems, WeYou prevents people from actually meeting whether in the physical offline world or in the virtual real world. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t meet other humans, but in the physical world, they’ll be robots, and in the real world, they’ll be avatars. You won’t be able to tell the difference because the robots and avatars are perfect clones of human beings. These simulations are part of our total physical distancing that is one of the few rules that function both in the physical world and the real world. Later you’ll learn about additional physical distancing implications in the physical world, but, despite limitations, this rule makes it easier to deliver perfect fulfillment to everyone. For people to exchange information directly is still sometimes necessary, as we’re doing right now, but such exchanges are rare and only happen under rigorous control to ensure the perfect experience for everyone involved. These exchanges only happen in the real world and never, absolutely never, in the physical world.”
Hmmm . . . This information would normally ring alarm bells: “Total physical distancing” in the “physical” and “real” worlds; “robots” and “avatars” based on clones of humans. This situation sounds like a worst-case scenario, but Kim’s voice and gestures, his way of explaining, somehow make it feel right, logical—the best thing WeYou could do. Then again, I only care to a limited degree.
During my time in the Navy, I learned to stay focused no matter how complex and challenging the information became. Something was always happening that could distract me from my focus, so I needed to make the distractions fade away.
On the small screen in the back of my mind, I feel the picture of the lost key puzzle becoming clearer. The first pieces fall into groups, forming a starting point for understanding some of the basic principles that guide the world of WeYou. I see different realities merging into one simulation. How complicated the image is, but how elegantly WeYou solves the challenges that arise. Will these pieces become a complete section or a subgroup of something else, a part of the outline, or perhaps even a cornerstone? I need patience to bring order to the puzzle’s chaos.
I need to stay focused on the whole journey taking place on the main screen of my life. I must continue making one move after the other. Finally, I must remember that I don’t need to change or rescue this world, but rather, my own.
“Under the NWOII,” Kim continues, “an essential part of the perfect experience within WeYou is that we solved numerous problems that were once the source of much misery. These issues slowed down progress because they diverted the focus from what was important—from what we’re working on today. For example:
“The scarcity of resources and unfair distribution of wealth was an issue. Back in your time, people lived in a kind of capitalistic feudalism. A few owned almost everything. To be exact, the top 10% owned 85% of the world’s assets. You didn’t get to be among this 10% through your own efforts, choices, or hard work, but rather, by birthright. A lifetime of labor could only get you as far as the shrinking middle class. You needed capital, lots of capital, to make it to the top, which meant you had to be born into the ‘right family’ and inherit your wealth. Many people believed they lived in a world where anybody could achieve anything if they worked hard enough. The few who were lucky enough to pull themselves up from poverty and amass significant wealth were used as examples to prove that the nearly impenetrable barrier between the rich and the poor didn’t exist; if you didn’t better yourself, it was your own fault.”
Kim’s example sounds like the rise and fall of our family business. My father and the whole family worked so hard to make our dreams come true, and for what? Just to see everything collapse because of an economic crisis that ruined 99% of the population while making the top 1% even more prosperous.
“Exactly. This so-called American Dream was an illusion. Today, people don’t worry about financial inequality. In the physical world, everyone has no wealth at all and the same restricted access to resources. Everybody is treated equally. This equality applies to me as much as anyone else. But in the real world, everybody has access to all resources and enough wealth to achieve individual fulfillment within WeYou. This access to resources and wealth has created several side effects that solved problems that seemed unsolvable.
“For example, having the same standard of living everywhere stopped the physical world’s refugee problem and mass migration since relocating doesn’t make sense if your life is precisely the same no matter where you live. If all the basics needed for survival are free and there’s nothing to purchase, you don’t need a medium of exchange, so money is meaningless. As a result, people in our society are motivated not to earn more and more money for their own advantage, but to create progress, knowledge, and better living standards for all. Thus, we were able to overcome any kind of egoism and selfishness.
“Unemployment is no longer an issue. Within WeYou, everyone has enough work—and not just any work. WeYou offers people the perfect job that meets all their needs. People can work as much as they want, take as many days off as they want, earn as much as they want, and live exactly the type of life they want. Having a day job you don’t like or a second job in the evening is unnecessary.
“You wonder about people who don’t want to work. That’s fine as well because this preference turns out to be short-term. People appreciate doing something that makes them feel valuable and unique, something that gives their life meaning. What creates this feeling can take many different forms. Some need more time than others to find the right role within our system, but thanks to time-stretching, time isn’t a problem.
“Environmental pollution remains one of the main challenges in the physical world but not in the real world. Want to drive a classic car with a powerful engine that runs on gas? Go for it! How about fly everywhere in your own private jet? You’ll only destroy the environment of your own real world. If you want to fix that environment, no problem. We have plenty of AIs that can clean up your environment in milliseconds, so your real world environment will be perfect again.
“Discrimination, racism, gender inequality—these are no longer issues. Based on their preferences, everyone can be anything and anyone they want in their personalized real world. Most people exclude discrimination from their real world simulations, but, despite all our efforts, some people never understand and still want to discriminate against others. If discrimination fulfills you, feel free, but only in your personalized real world. This restriction ensures you won’t offend any other human being.
“Crime is similar. At times, people are drawn to forbidden acts, for example drugs. Be as high as you want for as long as you want. WeYou can simulate the feeling of any drug you can imagine and more. Do you want to steal something, or even kill someone? Go ahead—but, of course, only in your personalized real world. You don’t have to worry because we’ve installed layers of security to ensure that people can only commit crime with the virtual people who inhabit their personalized real world. Even in rare cases where two personal worlds merge, you’ll never be able to harm any other human being. People can live in peace and harmony as long as they want.”
I can’t help thinking all of this sound too good to be true. As I search for the cracks in the surface of this seemingly perfect world and process all the information I am receiving, Kim offers me some water from a crystal carafe. The vessel is exactly centered in the middle of the glass table that stands exactly in the middle of the seating area. Everything is precisely centered. Kim fills a glass for himself before putting the carafe back on the table—again, exactly in the middle. Kim takes a small sip while he scans my thoughts and feelings, giving me time to process the information he has shared, while simultaneously interacting with HAIEC to address other issues unrelated to this conversation. Kim knows that exploring WeYou will be a roller coaster ride for me. Juxtaposed beside concepts I’ll love will be concepts that shock me. Sometimes these concepts will be the same. The mission will tax me, not only cognitively as I try to solve the puzzle of the lost key, but also emotionally. Nevertheless, I’m confident Kim will provide me the support I need to find as many puzzle pieces as possible to then group and assemble.