Karter turned to the window of the shuttle to take in the view of Shenzhen as they approached. Even this far up you could see subtle signs of its artilect at work re-shaping the city to meet the needs of its residents.

It was worth the risk to fly over other more energy efficient forms of travel. He would move up the ranks of the chart of energy wasters, but he doubted he was even in the top 10,000. He hadn’t checked in awhile. And he supposed some trolls might ding his Public Rating if they saw the flight listed in his activity roll, but he had enough friends who knew why he was on the trip and understood his motivation to keep his Private Rating high and counteract it.

The extra time of a sea/land voyage would not have been convenient for his hosts in Shenzhen either. Their gift to the Silicon Valley Living Museum wouldn’t spoil, but delay might have been seen as impolite and certainly kept them from other business.

The prototype devices he would be obtaining we’re rather common in the Artilect of Shenzhen but would nicely flesh out exhibits and even some demonstrations back home. Karsten was curator of the largest living museum in North America. It was even larger than Washington DC. The museum stretched from San Jose, California to downtown San Francisco. Almost 100,000 people lived and worked in the museum, most of them in some kind of period costume or situation. His mots popular demonstration exhibits were the South Park Startups near the bay bridge in San Francisco and One Infinite Loop in Cupertino.

He had also flown because he knew that Shenzhen would not want to waste time on a minor functionary like himself. Being head of most of the Bay Area sounded impressive on paper but he was still over a rather small department in the larger Free State of Los Angeles. The ‘cities’ he managed hadn’t deserved that name in many decades. He answered to one citadel only and it was far to the south.

So while he expected to be received like a dignitary, which meant being taken to meet the Head Adminstrator in Shenzhen, he anticipated it would be a brief handshake and picture with barely more than a few words exchanged, then on to the Shenzhen Historical Bureau to obtain the precious devices and after a nights stay on a hotel, back to the Bay Area, most likely by sea/land.

So Karter decided to enjoy the view from the air. Shenzhen’s artilect was much more pervasive and much more subservient than the somewhat dictatorial Tokyo artilect. The Head Adminsitrator had full root privileges over it. That was necessary when the AI in question had full control over an endless army of nano materials with the ability to reshape themselves at will. As buildings became necessary they shaped themselves into being and if any fell into disuse they were dissolved. Roads and traffic routes as well adapted to the patterns of human traffic as they emerged.

Mostly this happened without interfering with daily life, at least when done optimally. There were a few stories of mostly empty restaurants dissolving around the one or two patrons inside when they ignored announcements. They would suddenly find themselves sitting at a table in a park. The table would stay until they finished their dinner then that too would dissolve.

But that was the rarity. So Karter enjoyed looking down to see subtle hints. Of buildings being adjusted. He caught one skyscraper losing a floor and saw a whole block of apartments dissolve into a flat parking lot, then spring a hotel. he would end up staying at that hotel that night, he guessed.

The flight descended swiftly and soon he was too close to see any more adaptations. And even sooner he was on the ground.