Malcolm’s Workoid

Malcolm eased down the digital zip (*patent applied for) on his Workoid, and stepped out of the suspended shell. The Systeme marked him complete for the day with the obligatory “Thank You for your Effort, you are Valued and Appreciated” delivered by the hologram of the Human and Android Resources Level B. Malcolm always appreciated the sincerity of the pleasantry, it reassured him that the Systeme cared. Everyone needed to know that. Interestingly Android used to be an operating system for early rudimentary digital phone handsets, before they became powered by organic self-imaging systems. How times had changed, he reflected – and raised his eyebrows to himself at how wrong the “future of work” navel-gazers had got it all. While his Sustaining Credits were fixed by his grade, he had earned extra Social Credits this week and was surely going to spend them this Wednesday evening. It was the weekend after all.

The Workoid was functioning like a dream. Far better than the Beta prototype that had him working seventeen-hour days for a whole week before the Pressure Clock was synchronormalised to fifteen. His Office was a short Metrobeam away. He still went to the Office of course, it had been compulsory ever since the Universal Passive Strike of 2037 when with productive output at an all time low the great corporations of the world collectively realised that all of their attachments were Doing Their Own Thing – thinking, writing and sharing for themselves and not the Systeme. The Office had been reinvented as a place to co-exist in the same physical space, although communication was, naturally, no longer necessary.

When the zip closed, he was Engaged: “plugged in” and “logged on” in old money, streamsharing and socialigned. It always felt effervescent, like cool water was flowing in his veins. It was so easy compared to when engagement needed to be forged by the blacksmiths of the dark departments, and reciprocated – it had been like pressing your face through a sieve. Just wholly unnatural, with nothing of recognisable worth at the end.

Malcolm’s Workoid made it possible for him to work. He spoke in the language of the Office, using the much-admired and sought-after elongated expressions that conferred status and value, and made him feel significant. This was motivating. It helped him use tools that he would never use in his Own Life, like PowerPoint – the last survivor of the days of Computing, never bettered – and to create the required hologram of physically homogenous formality. He was able to attend ritual semisocial gatherings with their quaint Gormenghast-like mysterious protocols, lost in time but a valued link to the past, and to craft the ambiguity that was the very lifeblood of the Systeme. Conflict and disagreement had been entirely eradicated. It quietly suppressed his emotions, helpfully flattening his spirit into a predictable rhythm that enabled his to rub along seamlessly with his fellow attachments.

Malcolm’s Workoid made him happy. He spread his contented end-of-Contribution smile, and as it hung in the air before him, affectionately pressed its shoulder. It had made work bearable again. He turned, and dissolved into the afternoon.

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