Zero Hours

Tim Maughan:

As she reaches the exit barrier at Oxford Circus there's some kerfuffle on the other side, cursing and shouting, and as the crowd gets out of the way she can see what's going on; security theatre breaking it's own fourth wall as two cops wrestle with a guy and get him to the floor, gloved hands pulling back his hood to reveal the shock of his warped face, mutated beyond machine recognition into a disturbed alien mask. Nicki has seen it before, but it still surprises her that people would go to those ends, pumping their face full of QVC home botox injections just to fool the cameras. Misuse can lead to dangerous long term side effects, the EULAs warn. Plus they just look fucking painful. Apparently the swelling goes down after a while, but the stretch marks remain  --  plus if that's the only way you can do business inside Zones 1 & 2 then you need to start jacking your cheeks and forehead up with that shit all over again.

Nicki's in the barrier gate now, people crowding behind her, eager to get out or crane a look at the guy that's pinned to the floor. She glances back. No retreat. She steps forward and pops her wallet on the reader, hoping the right card is out of the RFID blocking envelope. She holds her breath. The gate bleeps dully, the barriers swing open, and she's stepping out, head down, pink hoody up, past the sprawled, screaming guy with the face made of balloons.

Previously, previously.

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5 Responses:

  1. Steve says:

    Interesting and apocalyptic read, shame about the Blackberry reference ... given they are already history in 2013.

  2. J. Peterson says:

    See also Robotic Nation & Manna.

    TL;DR - the first people replaced by machines aren't the baristas & burger flippers, it's their supervisors. I suspect the real-life Nicki wouldn't bother visiting a supervisor at the end of her shift; vision systems would verify her work and identity. They'll credit her without scanning a code.

    Back when software was shipped in boxes with floppy discs inside, I visited the factory producing them. I was surprised to see rows of people performing obviously automatable tasks. I asked the manager showing us around about this, and he explained minimum wage+overhead was less money out the door than the capitol cost of a robot.

  3. Tom Lord says:

    I suspect the real-life Nicki wouldn't bother visiting a supervisor at the end of her shift; vision systems would verify her work and identity. They'll credit her without scanning a code.

    This sounds like a system highly vulnerable to smashy smashy and consequently one that can't get very far.