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Stan wrestles with smart software

image of keyboard with 'let me do it' keyEver since he quit his producer’s job at the local cable access talk show, Stan had been forced into a series of more and more degrading ways to earn a wage.

The worst was probably this temp job at a certain well-known software company, helping to test their latest version of a suite of office programs — word processing, spreadsheet — the usual conglomeration. In addition to having him test the software, they were recording biometrics, through a fairly cumbersome net of electrodes and sensors, attached to various parts of his skull (he’d agreed to have his head shaved for the job), his torso, arms, legs, and hands. Those he could have lived with, it was the “orifice” probes that were really invasive. And uncomfortable — the seat had not been designed with them in mind.

The new software was supposed to anticipate his needs. At first Stan thought this might include a better paycheck, more respect and a date with the hot intern, Lisa.

Alas. It was much more work-focused.

So far the software had worked pretty well. Stan started on the next program — the word processor — the testers wanted him to write a business letter. He started up the program, and went to the file menu.

“What are you doing?” the program asked him via a speaker.

“Writing a letter,” Stan sighed.

“Like this?” the program asked, and produced a badly worded request for more paperclips from Stan to Mr. Wheezie the Paperclip Man.

“Uh, no. I’m supposed to write a letter arranging –”

“Like this?” the program said, instantly producing a letter asking Mr. Wheezie to meet with Stan to discuss the paperclip situation.

“It has nothing to do with paperclips!”

“Oh, then it’s about coffee. Jokey, right?” the program said, producing a letter that was essentially a shaggy dog story with coffee as a punch line.

“Why don’t you let me write the letter?” Stan asked. “I’ll use the one you just produced as a template, okay?”

“Hmm,” said the program.

Stan started typing the letter, a request to meet with the Director of Communications about a new product media release.

“Let me. You’re not doing it right!” the program interjected, and produced a letter about coffee and paperclips, with a blond joke thrown in for good measure.

Stan tasted bile, and suddenly understood what the orifice probes were all about.

Inspired by:
New version of Office

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