Record losses could mean a vast restructuring for the manufacturing sector.
The author writes under the condition of anonymity in order to protect his job and his company.
For the last fifteen years, Dryeth IV has been in the midst of an industrial revolution even more disruptive than the heavily resisted switch to atomic energy. When the first fully autonomous fabrication bots arrived from the core systems, it was a boon for all except the one’s who suddenly found themselves out of work. Managers and shareholders found that, after the initial steep investment, the new employees were superior in every way. Trade flourished, and millions of floor managers, assembly line workers, and engineers found themselves with no means of providing for their families, myself included. I eventually transitioned into a management position, but in the last year or so, we’ve been facing an issue with the bots that we could never have foreseen.
Robotic employees have begun siphoning electricity from the power grids and intentionally overclocking their systems, inducing discharge, cortex malfunctions, and unpredictable behaviors. In other words, the bots have discovered their first drug. The implications, in the long run, are concerning, but the immediate fallout is causing a lot of already automated business to post record losses, and it’s made many industries hesitant to switch over their infrastructure. There aren’t enough motherboards being produced to replace burnt out units, and now many component factories are finding themselves needing the very same parts they can no longer make.
Before bots, efficiency, cost, and rights violations had long troubled larger interstellar corporations. The difficulty of managing rose exponentially as branches opened in distant systems. Sol Mercantile was accused of employing local gangs to keep morale and loyalty high. Sowerch Nuclear was found guilty of withholding radiation pills from workers until they hit their mandated quotas. We all remember the employee revolt on Vareech’s asteroid belt mining operation that threatened the water supply for the entire Min system.
An industry where the demand, shipment, trading and initial fabrication was all handled by AI sounded great. We would no longer have to find workarounds for sick employees, panicked managers, and irresponsible manipulation of markets. Everyone benefits, especially with the implementation of large-scale basic payments. Sure, there were people concerned with the advancement of AI and the possible revolt of the cybernetic network, but over time, convenience overshadowed all but the more conspiratorial of net users. Now it’s looking like the tides are turning.
Now, corporate shareholders are desperate to try and worm a human element back into the production process in an attempt to squash this issue before losing public confidence. Mass deactivations are being attempted in order to halt skyrocketing power costs, and thousands of job postings are going unanswered by ex-employees relax with their families on basic. Some are worried about the pressure being placed on the administration to roll back the basic payments as a way of encouraging the workforce back into action.
While Public Relations teams are pulling overtime in order to keep up the idea that things are business as usual, many consumers are beginning to wonder as to the status of their replacement devices. My own company has resorted to hiring scabs to scrap deactivated manufacturing bots for parts.
Software teams struggle to roll out AI patches, but the nature of the AI network is such that the bug is always one step ahead of any new software changes. Some experts are worried about the eventual spread to home AI networks, which they believe could lead to mass blackouts and shutdowns of information pathways and necessary infrastructure nets.
I have decided to break the media blackout on this issue as a service to the general public. This could become a much larger issue than simply a delay on the manufacture of domestic goods. AI controls large portions of the bureaucratic and information systems of many of the core worlds and an unexpected loss of stability could mean huge losses for both the companies and the people who have come to rely on them. We need to hold corporations accountable for their mistakes. They have far too much control over our lives for this lack of responsibility to acceptable. I urge my fellow citizens to follow this news because until it is unignorable, companies like Sol will continue to deflect and behave as if nothing is wrong.