BOFH: Cough up half a grand and we'll protect you from AI

You get job security, we get lager and deep-fried food

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 12 "We're just wondering … how we might protect ourselves from AI?" the Boss asks.

"Protect ourselves?" I ask back. "Weren't you the one encouraging us to buy vanloads of the stuff to make our staff's lives better?"

"The Board did, yes, but we don't want any adverse effects. One of the Board members has asked us to be sure there are no health and safety implications."

"One of the Board that recommended getting AI in the first place?"

"I don't know about that. But he just wants us to be sure there are no fish hooks."

"So they want to be able to buy a tin of petrol but they don't want it to be flammable?"

"I …"

"What do they want us to do?" the PFY asks.

"Well, as far as I can tell they want to be sure that we can guarantee privacy …"

"From a system that now knows their name, DOB, Employment Record, home address, phone number, search history, salary and attendance times?"

"I … yes."

"Sure, perfectly doable."

"They also want to be sure that we can guarantee our employees that the information being gathered is for their benefit and not their detriment."

"Oh, like if the AI were to compare their salary and attendance hours, then maybe factor in the amount of their attendance time they spend on the phone to their mates and come up with a top 50 staff to be made redundant – you mean that sort of thing?"

"Ah, yes."

"Well, don't worry – because that's not AI. That's just simple math that anyone can do. The PFY and myself have been doing that for years with an excel macro. You're number 37."


"Oh, 37's a good thing, according to the AI system the HR department has implemented. When looked at over a longitudinal time frame, the company's redundancy trend appears to follow a path of saving between five and ten percent in any given purge. They also tend to favor making around three low-paid redundancies for every medium-paid redundancy, and three medium-paid redundancy for every high-paid redundancy – unless there's a crisis, when it's more like 1:1 low/medium and still 3:1 medium/high."

"And you're #37, medium, so in the scheme of things relatively safe," the PFY adds.

"Well, that's reassuring," the Boss mumbles dubiously.

"Unless we have a recession."

"Aren't … we possibly … heading into a recession?!" he gasps.

"We could be."

"So what does that mean?"

"In a recession the company's policy has been to freeze employment and look deeper into areas of the business that may need to be trimmed. According to the AI's operating detail, consolidating business units and reducing middle-management positions is the recommended method for reducing cashflow – because middle management don't have hard-to-acquire skills and so are easier to replace after a recession."

"So where does that put me?"

"In the top 50 you mean?"


"Uuuhmmmmm, about 7. The AI has a fuzzy logic gradient system for 'business-worth' which is a hybrid view of your total value to the company, DIVIDED by the amount of money the company pays for you and then cross-tabulated against any unique qualities you might bring to your position."


"You have the business worth of a corduroy ash tray," the PFY says.

"We don't have any ash trays."

"Not any more, no."

"Isn't corduroy flammable?"

"It is, yes – which makes your business worth the same as that of a product we no longer need, that wouldn't work properly if we did need it," the PFY explains.

"A chocolate fireplace, if you like," I add.

"But we're probably not going into a recession," the Boss says.

"And that's probably not an iceberg."


"Oh, I thought we were sharing famous last words," I say.

"Is there a way of … improving my … business worth?" the Boss asks.

"You mean gaming the system?" I ask, in hushed tones. "The AI is coded to negatively value people seen to be gaming the system."

"I'm not gaming the system. I just want to know how I can improve my business worth."

"Have you got an undisclosed doctorate?" the PFY asks. "There's a definite bias towards higher education."


"Are you willing to take a pay cut to improve your business worth?" the PFY asks.

"How much?"

"For you >tappity< >tap<, 100 percent. And it's still dicey."

"Which leaves only one option," I say. "And it's costly."

"How costly."

"500 quid."

"500 quid! What for?!"

"For the PFY and myself to squander on lager and deep-fried foods."

"No, I mean what am I getting for my 500 quid?"

"Job security and protection from AI," I say.

"How?" the Boss asks.

"That's the 500-quid question, isn't it?"

… Half an hour and 500 quid later …

"Get a first aid certificate," I whisper to the Boss.


"Shh," I say, looking round. "The number of people with a first aid certificate in the company is so low that the AI will treat you like favored offspring. You will be, for all intents and purposes, untouchable."

"I … thank you."

"Don't thank us – Thank AI."

AI. Making pointless lives better.

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