"The Beginning of Great Enterprises"
The Alta Familia rely on analytics
to predict the flow of markets and policies.
Three primary failure modes for analytics
stem from failing to account for:
utility: that the numeric representation
of the characteristic is actually
meaningful and useful;
accuracy: the extent to which the value,
whether measured or assigned,
actually represents the characteristic;
and precision: the range of actual values
of a characteristic associated with
a specific representation.
Insufficiency in any of these areas
will rapidly overwhelm the validity
of any calculations one might perform.
Even when all are sufficient, the nature
of the calculations themselves may cause
any result one might obtain to be meaningless.
Small, unnoticed flaws can snowball out of control.
The Alta Familia have a tendency to discount
that which is deviant or even unfamiliar.
To them, the Lacuna is an oubliette --
a glitch in the matrix -- into which
data disappears, rarely to return.
V has been studying the Lacuna
but has not contributed any of that data
to the analytics of the Alta Familia.
To be without contributions is
to be invisible, outside of Society.
V has found another society.
The AYES, being cybernetic, are
intimately aware of analytics, and have
developed approaches to dealing
with the erosion of meaning.
Just having them involved in
the negotiations between the Lacuna
and the Orion Arm is changing the equations
in ways that nobody can predict.
Among the AYES, the OCS-397
and its pilot Specialist Miles Cernan
have proven particularly useful for
transporting goods and passengers
into and through and out of the Lacuna.
They have a particular interest in memory,
from the false ones implanted in the AYES
by their programmers in the Orion Arm to
the true ones in people like Spalling
that replay horrors without end.
So V and Spalling have made friends
with them, and shared what they know
about coping with a pernicious past.
There's Astin, too, who by now has
a burgeoning trade route across the Lacuna.
They have all been keeping track of
the comings and goings of Orion warships.
It is ridiculously easy when one's friends are spies.
This helps Spalling to cope with his past, and
V enjoys it for the gratification of being able
to siphon data out of the Orion forces
without their systems detecting it.
V has been living with Spalling
for a couple of years now, and
it's comfortable, but V was raised
for more than running a surplus shop.
V's parents are horrible, but still ...
there is a small yet growing itch.
The Lacuna and Orion Arms are
starting to get quietly but thoroughly
serious about what the Lacuna can do
to keep watch on the Carinan Arm, which
requires a kind of distributed negotiations that
rely on a familiar architecture to build from.
V and company now have enough of
a baseline to notice that even though
ships are coming in every month or so,
and going through training exercises
before going off elsewhere, there haven't
been any new ships for quite a while.
Even though the units crewing and
traveling with a particular ship change,
they're just shuffling the same players around.
So the next time Astin comes through,
V brings up this sticky topic. Astin shares
news of xyr own, and they realize that trade
with the Lacuna is likely to get busier.
They speak of the resources that Spalling has,
what V wants to do, and what the Lacuna needs.
They have been working together long enough
to trust, now, that their interests run together.
V has made discreet and modest contributions
to various projects around the Lacuna, boosting
their chances of success with outside resources.
For long-term survival, they need more -- like ways
of growing their own food, renewing their population,
and moving people around without depending on
outsiders who might or might not remain allies.
Refurbishing and launching the ships
at Sargasso Base is going to require
more of a venture-size stake than
the angel-size stake that V can
access at the present moment.
But it's there. It's there.
The opportunity hangs inside
V's mind like a shining fruit,
just waiting for V to go out
on a limb and pick it.
So V decides to fulfill both of
the parental units' fondest wishes --
that is a venture-size stake -- and
establish Procyon Ventures
with V's current assets.
Soon V will be able to take
the rest of the assets to the Lacuna
and manage projects from there.
Spalling will stay behind to handle
the surplus shop and anchor their interests
here on Trunnion. He knows some Navy vets
who can help with the fleet, too. He will
send them along whenever he can.
The OCS-397 and Specialist Miles Cernan
will help restore the AYES on derelict ships.
They know about memory loss and falsification,
and how to get around such things. They can
make good use of whatever Spalling and friends
dig up regarding the programmers and programs.
Astin will interface with the traders and help
make sure that the influx of refurbished ships
will be an asset to the Lacuna's economy,
not a liability. Xe is hopeful about it.
"All right," V says finally. "Small opportunities
are often the beginning of great enterprises.
Let's go make something happen."
Spalling calls for a toast with
a bottle of champagne liberated
from some officer's shipment that
had wound up in salvage.
"To the beginning of great enterprises,"
he says, and they all clink glasses.
V can't wait to see what happens next.
* * *
Analytics is the science of deriving useful patterns from a mass of data. Although very useful, this has a variety of known failure modes. There are basic and complex descriptions of how to learn the math and computer skills for this. The interesting thing is that you can get pretty good results from plain old pattern recognition.
Economics is the science of how wealth travels and what it does. This is particularly relevant in market economies, which have their pros and cons. It influences policies and politics, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. Learn more about economics.