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You sink into your chair at the kitchen table and sigh. The house was finally quiet. So much for a day at the beach making for an easy bedtime with the kids. It had been a good day—even if it was a bit of a blur. You murmur to your Sidekik™ AI and it activates the table’s projector. Images of your day fill the room and begin to play back.


Having left home before dawn, the beach had been almost empty when you arrived loaded down with cooler, towels, and toys. At least you got one of the newer shade pods, the big ones with the strongest connection to the beach’s sensor networks. Good thing, too. The pod had advised you to get the kids out of the water when the algae bloom moved in and let you know when it passed. It also linked with everyone’s Sidekiks, ensuring regular Ultraviolet radiation breaks through the day. That meant peace of mind for a high-risk activity like playing on the beach. Plus, it meant you knew exactly how long you had to mee​​t your contractor, Gary, in the virtual design lab before the kids came back and chaos filled the pod.


The virtual walk-through looked good, except for the home office. Something did not feel right. Your Sidekik had picked up on it a moment later. It started flashing warnings about compromised cognitive ergonomics. The interaction between the ligh​​ts and the ambient noise from the furnace was going to create sensory interference that reduced your productivity by 8%. So Gary was going to work up a new model with better sound insulation.


After signing off, you told Sidekik to set your information environment to “family time, non-commercial”. It would handle basic communications and filter non-emergency news alerts, while blocking the ubiquitous contextual advertising that filled augmented spaces these days. No need to worry about your ailing parents either, as Sidekik knew to push their messages through.


During the next UV break, you took your eldest to see the new art installation in the shady green space bordering the beach. You stopped several times along the path, watching as your daughter darted off to examine a tree or rock, peering intently through her smartglasses. It took you a moment to realize she was following Elder Hill’s avatar around as it pointed things out to her. Probably lichen or moss. She had been obsessed since her first walk in the backyard using the new Traditional Ecological Knowledge app. She could already identify more plants than you and your partner combined.


The sculpture had been a little overwhelming. Not the sculpture itself, which was an abstract personification of the province as a female figure, but the layers of digital artifacts attached to it. With augmented reality enabled, observers were supposed to see a digital twin of the figure spring to life and dance joyously through the trees. It was supposed to give passers-by a feeling of bliss grounded in the natural beauty of the park. But it had been tagged so many times that the effect was ruined. All manner of political slogans, non-regulated adverts, racist slurs, fake news, and sexist vulgarities defaced both versions of the statue. You asked your daughter what she saw and were relieved to hear Sidekik’s parental controls on her glasses were working. There were a few ads, but nothing troubling.


Surveying the other visitors, you noted a wide range of reactions. Those without the latest high-end smart devices tended to breeze past the statue after a quick look. You remember thinking how bland their lives must be. Those wearing the devices lingered much longer and their faces revealed a range of emotions: revulsion, outrage, wonder, and laughter. You wondered which metaverses produced which expressions? Maybe it was time to opt for one of the stricter platforms yourself? It would mean a less vibrant life, but also less annoyance and stress.


By mid-afternoon, everyone else was napping in the perfect shade of the pod—except your eldest, who was in one corner, engrossed in the latest Bollywood simul-dance, their saree swirling around them. So you indulged your latest guilty pleasure: Newscape, the current events show that let you experience the news. Your first stop was Washington, to sit in on a press briefing where the tension was thick enough to cut with a knife. Your Sidekik gave four fake news alerts in as many minutes, as Newscape ported you through the instant analysis offered by news media influencers and journalists. You wondered how people who could not afford such systems managed, given the epidemic of disinformation and deep fakes. Your next stop was a warzone, where you found yourself in the middle of a firefight between warring factions. This time your AI directed a bias warning at you as you ported in and out of analysis channels. It had caught you opting out of two spaces where the commentary did no​t align with your political perspective. You told Sidekik to ease up on the bias notifications, then asked Newscape for something lighter. Moments later, you found yourself on a celebrity’s yacht in the Seychelles. You enjoyed three whole minutes of sparkling waters and pristine, deserted beaches, before your youngest woke and made a beeline for the real-life water.


The pizza delivery drone arrived just in time to prevent complete meltdowns from children and partner alike. As your partner grabbed ​​the last slice, Sidekik whispered that the car had powered up and reached the preset cabin temperature. Given current traffic levels, you could make it home for the kids’ bedtime—if you left in the next 30 minutes.


As the playback shifted to images of everyone packing up, you told it to stop. You savoured the silence on your way upstairs. It had been a good day.