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Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Sci-fi · #2163287
The world's greatest job sitting around watching screens.
I'm the Advorma Advanced Response Marketing Algorithm (ARMA). I'm not actually an algorithm. I'm a real flesh and blood human, but for marketing, reasons advertised as AI. If the purchasers knew what they were actually buying, they might be a bit less inclined to do so.

The ARMA, or me, is a program to judge the public's response to marketing promotion and strategy -- I'm a clickbait test receptacle. I'm not sure how the program works, or even how I work. That may sound strange, so let me explain the job.

I sit in a chair, a rather large comfy one. I'd likely fall asleep were it not for some kind of stimulant I'm given. Knowing what would seem like something I should know, but with employment options limited, I signed the contract without any questions. It seems silly to ask now.

Before the chair, positioned somewhat high so I can see them without straining my neck, or risk my comfort level, are numerous televisions. I wouldn't say a large number, certainly not like a sci-fi installation wall of monitors. I don't have an exact count, as I believe it fluctuates, but in the range of three to five.

The screens turn on and off, run various videos, show social network feeds, sometimes a good movie, and often just test patterns, or plain colours.

There is sound as well, coming from somewhere. It may be for one of the programs, multiple programs, music, people chatting, or a mix of those.

You might be rightly asking what I actually do? I'm not sure it's a question that I can fully answer. I sit there and watch, and listen. No, I don't give feedback. I have no buttons to press, no forms to fill out, no interaction of any kind.

I guess I have those electrodes. Initially, they'd place some kind of wire mesh over my head. I was then offered the "advanced" program which required implants inside my skull. Again, while a reasonable person might question this, the added numbers to the contract were hard to ignore.

Had I bothered to read the contract it might have said these electrodes measure responses from my brain. My apparent inaction is a stream of information directly from my neurons to the computers behind me. They aren't really behind me, or perhaps they are, all I've seen is a cable leading into the floor.

I've often been asked if I'm the only one with this job. I've seen others in the hallways, but none of them has the telltale marks of embedded electrodes. Surely I can not be the only one.

It seems pertinent about now to mention the retirement clause in the contract. I did not read it of course, but they, my employer Advorma, felt it necessary to at least highlight the details for me. I am entitled to a comfortable retirement in a pleasant setting. I will be taken care of, is that not all I really need to know?

Why though do I jump to this topic now? Because it relates to my probable colleagues. I've seen many through the halls, as I said before, but there does appear to be a regular turnover. The technicians who setup my chair often chatter, wondering how I've managed to avoid retirement as well. Why would I want to retire? This is a wonderful job!

Except for perhaps the protests. The lines are getting thicker each week I come to work. The people bear signs reading words like "Inhumane", "immoral torture" and "People aren't Computers". I have no clue what they are referring to.

They would try to stop me, asking how I could work for such an evil institute. I tell them I just watch TV. Upon hearing this their faces, tend to drop in a fearful, perhaps concerned look. I'm offered help or assistance. I'm told I'm not alone and I don't have to do this. This has terribly confused me since I love my job.

Advorma security requests I use a less accessible side entrance in the future.

I continue to watch my screens. There are a lot more now. It's a mix of the same old videos and colours, but several new odd patterns have been introduced. I don't know the purpose of any of this. Sometimes I can focus on one screen, or one sound source, other times I just absorb it all or enjoy the pretty light show. The addition of discordant noise was kind of weird, but meh, just another stream.

A month later I'm assigned bodyguards.

A month later I'm relocated to a residence on the property. It's a beautiful place and saves me rent payments.

The protests outside grow. The throngs now carry signs reading, "An unstoppable corporate experiment", "Consumerism is consuming real lives", and perhaps the most ominous, "In memory of the 327 ~lost~ retired so far" (with a line through the word "lost"). My photo appears on some of the placards, one should probably find that disconcerting, but I really don't know what any of this is about, so I'm not bothered.

My job continues. I'm working longer hours, but I'm assured I'm well compensated for it. The technicians who help me have been a varied bunch lately -- it looks like a high turnover rate. All of them avoid looking at me, and when I catch their glances, they are looks of bewilderment or sadness.

A week later I'm awoken in the middle of the night by an alarm. It feels like another session of my job. The alarm is coming from the right, but it dies down. Another screen shows the compound burning. Smaller screens show further fires in the auxiliary buildings, the entrance, even the gardens. The shift from the alarm, to the inferno, to the cheers of the crowds nearby, and interrupted by sirens. A wave of images and sound. I'm accustomed to watching, that's what I do.

As the morning comes, the blaze dies down. The crowds are gone. The sirens have stopped. Advorma is a burned out husk with piles of rubble beside it.

I wonder if I can retire now.
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