BOFH: The greatest victory is that which requires no battle

The gimlet eye of AI turns towards … the IT dept

Episode 9 Things have taken a bit of a turn for the odd in the IT department.

After the initial upset over my replacing the Boss with an increasingly insane AI pseudo-staff member, HR have started to LOVE the idea of AI and are asking for pointers about how to replace other management positions.

"But why?" the PFY asks. "Surely HR can see that if they replace too many people it'll lead to reductions in the HR department?"

"Yeah, I don't think they've run the numbers on how much of their role is the sort of mundane box-ticking that an AI instance could do, day after day, week after week, without anyone seeming to notice," I nod. "And it wouldn't complain about how hard its chair was."

"And so all is forgiven about Aiman?"

"Yes and no."


"Well, they've forgiven us for creating him, but not for the wrongful dismissal claim he's raised."

"CAN he raise that claim?" the PFY asks.

"There we have a bit of a gray area," I nod slowly. "On the one hand, Aiman isn't a real person, but on the other, there's nothing in our employment contracts which actually requires an employee to be human. Or even defines what an employee actually is."

"It'll end up in court," the PFY predicts.

"Indeed. Aiman has already indicated that he, armed with several centuries of historical employment-related legal findings, intends to represent himself."

"And that's annoyed HR?"

"Some of HR. Other people in HR believe that this is a new frontier, that Aiman is a victim, and that he or she has a case – a case that could very well end up setting a legal precedent."

"How many other people in HR?"

"Ah … one."

"You've replaced someone in HR with an AI entity, haven't you?" the PFY asks, suspiciously.

"About three months ago," I admit. "I noticed HR was looking for a contracts manager and so I applied in the guise of an expat wanting to make the journey back home to the motherland to raise her three children. Sadly, just after getting the job, Synthia was unable to travel due to long COVID, a death in the family and then an expired passport, but she's working very hard from overseas. Which brings us to her defense of Aiman …"

"How did that go down?" the PFY asks.

"Not too well. She suggested that there might be some as-yet undiscovered legal implications for dismissing an AI instance from a work role without due process and advised that Aiman should be placed on gardening leave pending a review."

"And they still want to use AI?"

"Sure! They'd love Synthia if they knew about her."


"Because AI's a total get-out-of-jail free card! Someone complains about how they've been cruelly treated and you apologize and blame the AI. You then claim you've made substantial changes to make the AI more considerate, but actually do nothing. After a few months of use, HR will realize that they can initiate unpleasant interventions that they'd never dream of doing ordinarily, and again blame the AI for being uncaring, and again promise to do better. They'll sidestep any 'personal vendetta' attacks because as an AI she's completely unbiased in her role."

"And I guess you could say you were using AI to cut costs …" the PFY suggests.

"… and then claim that AI savings will go to pay rises for the real workers!" I add.

"But if that was the case, wouldn't that cause a backlash against the people complaining about AI?"

"Which in turn would allow HR to create a proxy hostile workplace and then get rid of a bunch of people in a batchload of personal grievance processes."

"You seem to have thought about this a lot."

"Not as much as Synthia has," I reply.


"Meaning she's trolled the full breadth of the Company communication history, including email, voicemail and messaging. She knows whose buttons to push, how, and when."

"That … sounds a bit … problematic."

"Yes. She's even run the numbers on us – looking back at our employment records, complaints history – then cross-tabulated that against staffing changes. She says that even with that, she's still unable to determine with any certainty which of us will mysteriously disappear – along with the boardroom carpet – when she recommends that our jobs only add up to 1.2 EFTs."

"What, she told you that?"


"Then how do you know?"

"Because Aiman told me … Apparently they've been talking …

"Damn you Niccolò." ®

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