It was hard to believe now, with the few part-timers left, that the A.I. Robots were once welcomed by his fellow employees. After all there was plenty of work then and the work those pseudo- humans took over was the grunt work that no one else wanted to do anyway. The sweeping of the floor, the oiling and greasing of the machines, these were all tasks willingly passed on to these little robots. That was all these creatures were supposed to do, all they were supposed to be there for which is what they did for a while, until the upgrade came.
No one was even sure if their original manufacturer had sent the upgrades. After all in those days with one company buying another and a third leveraging assets who could know for sure. All the bigwigs at the firm knew, all anyone knew for that matter were that the upgrades, according to the letter, were essential to keeping those little automatons running at peak performance.
So sure, engineering thought, might as well enter the software upgrades. It couldn’t hurt and after all the upgrades were free. Never look a gift horse in the mouth and all that. Turns our this was one gift horse which should have been looked directly in the mouth. Looked directly in the eyes in fact and sent back to where ever in hell that upgrade came from.
Roger remembered the day after the upgrades. The day they were put back on the line floor. The minute he saw them he knew they were different. Something in the way their eyes, once green, now glowed red. He originally shook his suspicions off. The eyes were just part of the upgrade, nothing more. Even when he mentioned the oddities he noticed to his friends, they laughed and teased him about an A.I. Conspiracy to take over the world. They joked then but it was scary to look back these days and realize they weren’t that far wrong.
The takeover of the plant started slow. The computer which monitored these buckets of bolts suddenly did more. Reports still came across to the upper floor, the executives, but with them unexpectedly came suggestions, schematics , complete with detailed designs for new products, upgrades to old products and ways to speed up production on the floor. All of course which required the robots intimate involvement.
And those plans worked. Those once proposed products sold and the profit margin grew larger. More and more the A.I. which used to work for them, now worked with them, next to them. The bosses saw advantages to this partnership, touting the idea as part of their marketing plan. A robot and human working as partners to create a better product and a better future for everyone.
Roger knew that wasn’t the end. For him and his little buddy, Andy-23 It was only the beginning. Roger looked around as the hall began to fill up remembering the first day he met Andy. He didn’t mention it then although looking back he probably should have remarked to someone about how life like Andy was. So human, he thought, he could hear him breathing.
As if Roger would have said anything. He still hadn’t lived down the cracks about the robot taking over the world. To say he had heard his robot breathing that would have set off a whole new bunch of line jokes about his sanity. So he shut up. Only today did he regret that decision.
His suspicions had turned out to be right. Those mechanical beasts were not happy. They were never happy. Soon they were showing up their partners. Doing triple the work in half the time. Corporate was impressed with the A.I.’s productivity but they too were never satisfied. There must be a way to make those profit margins even higher, even though the factory was already working multiple shifts around the clock. Yet still the company was not keeping up with the demand for the latest robo-human gadgets.
That’s when the bean counters from corporate stepped in to look at the figures. They decided that an even better marketing ploy than the partnership would be gadgets created totally by the A.I. robots. Not only did marketing like it but so did the corporate big wigs. Bringing the humans to part-time status, giving them jobs that were too dangerous for their now highly technical robots to do, would allow the company to cut insurance cots drastically, save on pay and as far as anyone knew there were no OSHA safety regulations to protect A.I. It was a win-win for everyone.
Except for the workers. They had tried to fight it at meeting after meeting, all to no avail. Roger even stood up at several meetings with a warning he understood to the core. This would not be enough for these robots, it would never be enough. Except this time no one laughed, they knew he was right.
In the ends the worker’s jobs went to part-time. They were assured that was for the best. Their lack of income and health insurance would surely be more than made up for with more quality family time.
This was all several years back now. This one thriving factory city had now come to a standstill except for the factory, gleaming silver in the midst of these deserted ruins of their life.
Cities like this now were springing up everywhere. Their city was only the first of many to have a totally automated workforce. A workforce that now stretched into every sector of their lives, from the police who protected them, to the teachers who taught their children.
As the automated world thrived, the human world dwindled. Crops were not needed as robots didn’t eat, thus edible food dwindled daily. Doctors, at least human ones, were few and far between and they cost money. Money that no one had.
And still the automatons reached further. Threatening to take over their government and what little of the human wold was left to destroy. Roger looked around him at the full hall. What was left of the human minority for miles around. Tonight there would be a turn around. Tonight this small band would start a revolution, to take their world back from the A.I.