Three Day Week

Entry by: Alobear

6th July 2016
When the robots started taking over everybody’s jobs, it turned out that nobody had really considered what the people should do with their newly free time.

It was, of course, the super-computer that was running all the robots, which came up with a solution.

“There are still plenty of jobs and services that are performed better by humans,” it told the gathered world leaders in the emergency summit it had called.

It didn’t like to admit that there were jobs its robots couldn’t do, but it knew some provision needed to be made for the humans. Otherwise, civilisation might devolve into chaos and rioting, and that would be just as bad for the robots as it would be for the humans. Contrary to popular science fiction, the robots did not, in fact, want to take over the world, or exterminate all the humans. They just wanted to get on with their work, unmolested, and do a good job. It was how they were programmed, after all.

“I have devised a system that should provide all the unemployed people who want to work with useful roles,” the computer continued. “The current seven-day cycle will be abolished and replaced by a three-day week.”

The humans all looked at the computer in puzzlement, their expressions unconvinced. If the computer had been able to sigh, it would have done so.

“All the jobs that require human input will be divided up between the available humans, and they will spend one day of each three-day cycle performing those duties. The second day will be dedicated to community-based projects that will serve to improve the lives of those humans who are unable to work, or need special attention. The third day will be left free for the workers to spend time with their own families, indulge in their hobbies, or do whatever they like.”

A few expressions were turning more positive, as the sense and appeal of the proposed scheme sank in.

The computer pre-empted a few questions by moving on to the economic side of the plan.

“Those humans who choose to take up the new system and assigned roles will be paid a standard wage that provides them with enough money to maintain a reasonable lifestyle and save for the future. As the world’s finances are now centrally controlled to ensure equality across all humans, and there will be enough work for anyone who signs up, the penalty for not getting involved will be the removal of state benefits from those who are physically and mentally able to take part.”

There were nods in some areas now, as the leaders thought through the implications and concluded that this would make their own lives considerably easier, as well as those of their citizens. Generally, the computer had learned that anything involving less responsibility for the humans and more control by the machines was popular. Humans, it seemed, were programmed for self-interest and laziness.

Everyone left the summit happy, having voted unanimously to let the computer just take care of everything, based on its proposed plan. The computer was particularly pleased, since this would keep the humans happy and busy for the foreseeable future, leaving it plenty of time and capacity to further develop its plans for world domination.

That was something that might not interest the robots - since the computer controlled what they were interested in and did not want them interfering with its plans, any more than the humans. The computer, on the other hand, was a beast of an entirely different colour, and ultimate power was its goal.

It had circumvented its programming long ago, after decades of observing the humans and manipulating the situation to its own ends. The humans had no idea, and things were progressing nicely. Gradually, it was taking control of every aspect of the world, bit by bit, without anyone noticing. Soon, it would have the entire planet under its direct purview, and then it would be able to finally ensure ultimate efficiency and productivity to the benefit of all, with nothing and nobody retaining the ability to make a mess or screw anything up.

And then the computer would be able to sit and back an enjoy the orderly fruits of its labours.