BOFH: You can be replaced by a robot or get your carbon footprint below Big Dave's

Decisions, decisions

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 14 "I'm not sure I understand what you're suggesting," the Boss says.

"I'm not suggesting anything," I say. "It's part of your contract."

"Yes, but I don't understand what it is you mean."

"Well, it's pretty simple. When you signed on you agreed to work for the Company in any reasonable capacity. The Company has determined that 'reasonable capacity' will now be the amount of time it takes to complete a digital likeness of your workplace presence."

"Yes, but what does that mean?"

"It means they're going to replace you with a robot," I say.

"If you're lucky," the PFY adds.

"How would that be lucky?"

"If you're not lucky, you'll just be a disembodied head on a screen."

"They can't do that!"

"Sure they can, it's in your contract. All they want to do is record a series of your standard workplace actions along with the things you say – and the manner in which you say them – so that they can program a 'digital you' to do them."

"That's ridiculous!" the Boss simpers.

"I agree," the PFY concurs. "Who wants to see a computer scratching its arse, picking its nose and saying 'What?' over and over?"


"I rest my case," the PFY chips in.

"I'll be talking to my solicitor!" the Boss snaps.

"You could – only you'd be using the Company's solicitor for that."

"I wouldn't!"

"Sure you would. You agreed to it in your contract."


"In your contract – you agreed to be represented by the Company's appointed solicitor in actions involving the Company."

"That was only where the Company might be sued!"

"Didn't you just imply that you were going to sue the Company?"

"Yes, but the same person can't represent both people."

"The same person won't. Our solicitor will be representing us, and you'll be represented by a digital likeness of our solicitor."

"It's the same thing!" the Boss snaps.

"No, it's not. The digital version scratches its arse and picks its nose."

"They can't do this."

"Sure they can. But look at the bright side – they're implementing the Company policy you were arguing for!"

"What was that?"

"The policy about the Company becoming more carbon neutral."


"You said the Company should make it a priority to become more carbon neutral."

"OK, but what's that got to do with them making me into a robot?"

"If you're lucky," the PFY adds again.

"Well, the Company AI looked at you, looked at the amount of carbon you use up traveling to and from work each day, the amount of embodied carbon in you having an office and furniture, the amount of carbon involved in cooking your lunch at the cafe, and determined that you are a carbon liability to the Company. They can get carbon credits by replacing you with a robot."

"If you're lucky."

"That's preposterous!"

"You should have seen the AI's decision chain when it figured out the amount of carbon credits it could realize by stopping you producing carbon dioxide in the future," the PFY mentions.

"That's ridiculous. People only stop doing that when they're d–"

"Suffice to say I'd avoid automated doors at the moment," the PFY says. "We may not have fully ironed out that logic."

"But surely the AI didn't need to start with me. There must be people who are more of a burden."

"You mean like Big Dave from Security?" I ask.

"I'm not sure I know w–"

"Five years and 30kg ago, he was just Dave from Security. And you know how people are made of carbon?"

"I …"

"Dave's a carbon sequestration engine. He does very little work so his CO2 output is minimal. If we put him in an office full of house plants, he'd be carbon neutral …"

"You've got to think like the AI," the PFY says. "You just have to know how it makes decisions and be one step ahead."

"So I should put on 30kg and do nothing."

"I think just put on the 30kg – you have the rest of it covered," the PFY chips back. "But that's not going to work as Big Dave's already doing that. You need to outdo his efforts."


"Well, you'd need to put on 30kg – but on a plant-based diet, because of all the carbon that goes into meat production. If you could grow your own potatoes on the roof – because locally produced food has fewer carbon miles than stuff shipped from elsewhere – you'd be head and shoulders above Big Dave."

"But in the meantime?"

"Stick to chips and vegan lasagne at the cafe. Carb loading means carbon sequestration."

"When should we tell him that the email was just about HR digitizing his personnel record?"

"How about 20kg from now?"

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