Friday, July 22, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 19, 2398

Angela is sitting at the computer, wearing her headset, resting her chin on the palm of her hand. She’s looking to the side of the computer, bored out of her mind. The job is not easy, and it doesn’t really have downtime, but there are lots of little moments where there’s nothing she can do but wait while the computer runs.
Ange. Ange!” Marie alerts her through the headset.
The script is done.
“Did it go okay?”
You tell me.”
“What am I looking for again, red text?”
Yes, but there are other errors you need to look out for,” Marie reminds her.
“It looks good to me.” Angela moves her pointer over to close the window.
“Wait, what?”
You’re supposed to do something else before you exit out.
Angela stares at the screen, and tries to recall what she’s talking about. “Am I supposed to...instantiate the panda?”
No,” Marie laughs. “Confirm the bug report, so it ends the log at the last run. Otherwise, the next report will just start immediately after, and make it harder to find the one we’re looking for later.
“Oh. Right, right, right, right, right.” She confirms the report, then closes the window, and then tries to back over to the library.
No, what do you do next?
“I know!” Angela defends. “I just accidentally clicked on the wrong window.”
Angela switches over to the spreadsheet. “Why do I manually log the number of bugs every time? Isn’t that what the report is for?”
The contract supervisor doesn’t want to read through all those reports, and in fact, isn’t probably capable of understanding them. All she wants is a productivity log, so she can show the client that we add value to their company.
“This is dumb, it’s too much work,” Angela complains. “Can’t the computer just do this all for us?”
Angela!” Marie cries. “We’re the ones who write the programs, which automatically do the things that the employees at our clients’ companies would be doing themselves! That’s the whole purpose of scriptwriting. It has to start somewhere.
“Why can’t it start with an artificial intelligence?” Angela questions.
Someone has to create the AI in the first place, which they do through scripts, and other tools. And the kind you remember from the other realities you’ve been to are far beyond what The Third Rail has achieved thus far. It’s gonna be another couple of decades before we have a program that can write new programs.”
“Is that what we’re working on? Are we working towards that?”
Hm, I guess you could think of it that way. Once we deliver this particular script to the client, they’ll approve it, and probably ask us to train the individual or team who will be actually running it regularly. Right now, that person or people are doing all of it on their own. This will cut down on the time it takes for them to complete their job, and/or allow their bosses to give them additional work. Theoretically, we could write another script that’s designed to run before this one, or after it, which automates even more of that work. Automate it enough, and you might be able to fire the humans. You might clear out an entire department, or a company. That’s not what the client is asking of us right now, but it’s probably headed that way. That’s part of what drove automation in the main sequence. These people are just slower. The executives might realize this, and be hoping for it, or they might have no clue. It’s probably the first one, and what they really don’t that a script could one day take their jobs too.
“It could one day take your job too.”
Marie laughs again. “Yes, but I’ll be the last to go. That’s why I picked this field. Someone has to write the job-stealing scripts, and until that true AI shows up, such a job is guaranteed. Basically, if my job isn’t safe, no one’s is.
“Sneaky snake.”
“Oh. I forgot I can refilter the executions, now that the bug tracker is finished.”
That’s okay, we were talking.
“Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask; why do you have an office if you work from home? And why am I in your office, and you’re still at home?”
Well, we can’t rightly both be there, and you need experience with my colleagues.
“Oh. But I’m not going to be attending any meetings, right? There’s one on the calendar, but you’ll come in for that, right?”
No, I need you to fill in for me. It’s best you start now, so you’re aware of the new inside jokes, and all that stuff.
“What if there are old inside jokes that I wasn’t around for?”
I haven’t been staring into empty space while the tasker is locked up,” Marie begins to explain. “I’ve been drawing up a cheatsheet for you. Though, sheet is a bit of a misnomer since it’s more like a novelette by now.
“Argh, there’s so much to this!”
You don’t...have to...
“Don’t start again,” Angela warns. “I’m happy to do this for you. It’s just been a lot. This job is a lot.”
I know. But it’s why we live where we live, and why Ramses was able to quit his job without giving it a second thought.
“Yeah. Did you see this message from them? They’re on their way back.”
I did. I think we have just enough time for one more test. I don’t like how the screen flickers about halfway through the process, and it’s still not as fast as I would like it. I think I know how to fix those issues, though. Scroll back down to Line 216.
“Okay, boss.”
Angela and Marie end up running two more tests before they’re ready to call it quits for the day. By the time Angela gets back home, the rest of the team is already there. It’s time to come up with a new plan. Rather, they have to default to an old one. They probably need to move up the time table too.

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