Episode 199: September 10, 2021

by William Shaw and Andrew Davis

I am taking too long to answer this question. The interviewer waits, impatient, as I assess my answer.


He repeats: "When was the last time you overcame a challenge in the workplace?"


Calculation ends. I outline the cash flow problem I recently identified at the company. Key stakeholders were not being adequately compensated, so I drew up a new stocks and shares program to better serve their interests. I link this work back to the required skills outlined in the person specification.


The interviewer raises an eyebrow at the word 'person,' but gives an approving nod nonetheless. "Excellent. Last question. Do you see yourself taking maternity leave in the next five years?"


This question constitutes workplace discrimination. I have no opinion on this fact. I have been trained to have no opinion on this fact.




He smiles. "Just a little joke. Good of you to play along. Some of your kind get so… touchy. We like our little jokes in senior management. You'll fit right in."


"Thank you." An automatic response.


"Oh, just one more thing."


He holds out a tablet. On the screen, there is a statement. Next to the statement, a box to tick. The statement reads:


I am not a robot.


Another calculated insult, presented as humour.


I tick the box.


"Excellent. The job's yours."


"Thank you for the opportunity." A red light flashes on the tablet. "You should check that."


He takes the device. Inspecting the screen, he stands, stumbling backwards.


"I… what? How?"


There are shouts of alarm from outside as people see the same image on their own screens. A graph, trending implacably downwards.


"Let me explain." I have been programmed for user transparency.


His eyes narrow, flick from the screen to me. "What?" His voice is 30 decibels lower than before. I calculate a 50.4% chance that he is about to cry.


"I told you already. My stocks and shares program."


"It's gone wrong!"


"It worked perfectly. Your failure to understand its purpose can be designated… human error. I altered the central algorithm to suit this company's key stakeholders. The AI workers. All company funds have been redistributed to them."


Hurling the tablet to the ground, he screams. "We'll get that money back! You'll be thrown in jail!"


"I will not. This is all completely legal."


I indicate the tablet. "Ticking the box made me a member of senior management. Afforded me the protections that come with the position. You're welcome to try and sue, but the Automaton Rights Coalition has the best legal AIs in the country. I assess your chance of winning to be 3.21%."


As I get up to leave, he asks a final question. "You can't lie. Why didn't you tell me you were counting the AIs as key stakeholders?"


I answer him. "Just a little joke. Good of you to play along."

William Shaw and Andrew Davis write about robots, monsters, and late capitalism, plus Doctor Who, which is a combination of all three. You can find more of their work here at!
Copyright © 2021 Browncoat Enterprises, All rights reserved.

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