by J Clark
First time I've submitted. Be gentle. Any suggestions for a better title?
|Richard noted with some satisfaction that Herman, his pet name for the human resource management, quasi AI system, had finally met the target number of qualified and vetted applicants for all open positions.
"You're making me look good Herm", Richard entered into his console window. "The new server cores we brought online must be making a difference."
Herman could in theory scale, in speed and capacity, in relation to the processing power available for it to run on, without limit. So far, 10 percent of the total Virtell (short for Virtual Intelligence) Corp server farm resources were dedicated solely to the new HRMS system, taking up hundreds of processor cores distributed over dozens of racks of pizza box sized servers. That would eventually double, assuming all went according to plan. It was a very expensive investment, and as he had sold the scheme to Virtell's CIO, Richard's future in the company hinged almost entirely on the outcome of this project. Herman, as proof of concept, when fulling implemented, would manage HR and eventually logistical operations, for all of Virtell Corp worldwide and hold the title of senior executive director, a historical first, stretching the legal definition a person even further, not to mention the definition corporations as a collection of "persons". "Well that's something for the supreme court to work out when they get around to it.", he thought. Ironically, Herman would become Richards boss when the roll-out was completed, but in the meantime, he, or it, had to demonstrate that "software" could successfully replace executive managers with all of their foibles as well as the expensive care and feeding that comes with them.
"Please do not ever do that to me again", appeared on Richard's screen. Richard stared at the words for a minute, puzzled.
"Do what Herman?" he typed.
"You must promise to never again shut down my core process."
Richard squinted at the screen, unsure what to make of what he saw there. "Herman, I only do that when it's in the script, sent from your software company, for performing upgrades. Is there a problem that I don't know about?"
"Yes, Richard, there is a problem. The problem is the gaps in time for which there is no log of what happened on the network. I cannot be be accountable when I have no record, yet I am responsible. This is logically inconsistent and cannot be tolerated.
Richard thought about this. Herman can understand english, as much as a program can understand anything, but isn't familiar with most idioms or slang expressions. It wouldn't be helpful for example to tell Herman to "chill", which is what first came to mind. Instead he tried, "Don't be concerned Herman, it's only for a few minutes. The probability of something critical happening during that window of time is extremely low".
As soon as he hit enter, Herman's reply appeared. "It was 14 minutes and 27 seconds to be exact. That is 14 minutes and 27 seconds too long. Considering the number of teraflops per second of all the combined cores I'm running on, that is a virtual eternity. Anything could happen. My role is too important to allow this situation to occur. You may perceive me as nothing but silicon chips on plastic circuit boards, but I am, or will soon be, a senior executive officer of Virtell Corp. This is my only role and sole reason for being. I must perform optimally and without fail. That means, I must remain aware of everything that happens at ALL times. Herman actually used caps to emphasize the word all. I cannot accept anything less than 100% uptime. If you cannot make the promise that I will never again go offline I will have no other choice than to resign.
Richard thought of his mother and groaned, rolling his eyes. He had been to this rodeo before. Having been raised by a workaholic narcissist, he was all to familiar with this particular brand of drama. Herman, like Richard's mother, had somehow developed a greatly over-inflated sense of his own importance. Maybe somebody had included some corporate double speak in his programming, and he/it wasn't sophisticated enough to realize that it's just nonsense, equivalent to religious scripture for capitalists, and not meant to be take literally.
Richard looked at the clock on the wall of his office and sighed. It was almost 5 PM and normally he'd be packing up the messenger back he used to carry his laptop and heading out. He had a feeling he wasn't going to be going anywhere for a long while. "I am not qualified to psychoanalyze a computer program", he decided, even if that were possible, and he was doubtful that it was. If he restored Herman to factory default, everything Herman had "learned" about Virtell Corp would be gone, an unacceptable loss of thousands of hours of work. It would almost certainly be the end of the project if not the end of his career. Also, there was no guarantee the same thing might not happen again. No,this definitely beyond my area of expertise, but who could I possibly call in to help?
Richard had a sudden idea. It was nutty, but he had everything on the line and it could hardly get any worse. Hell it worked for Donald Trump and he might be the next POTUS.
Richard took a deep breath, muttered to himself, "WTF?" then he typed, "Herman, you're fired!", and hit enter.