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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Revolt of the Half-People: A Science Fiction Story

In the year 2040 Monty Meekson had a hard job working as the right-hand man of a billionaire. His boss James Crassus would bark out an order, and expect Meekson to do the job, moving heaven and earth if necessary. If the job wasn't done just right, Crassus would dish out a tongue-lashing that Meekson would always endure stoically, without talking back. Despite his important role, Meekson was paid little. Crassus never paid his employees generously.

One day Crassus assigned Meekson the job of coming up with radical new ideas to help Crassus earn his second billion dollars. Meekson met with Crassus, and presented his list of ideas.

Your ideas are worthless rubbish!” yelled Crassus.

Yes sir, Mister Crassus,” said Meekson.

I shouldn't have expected an idiot like you to come up with a good idea,” said Crassus. “But I've come up with a great idea myself. It's a whole new way to staff a military armaments factory, one that will be much more profitable.”

Crassus explained his wild idea. His company would get involved in genetic engineering humans. A hundred genetically engineered babies would be produced. But the babies would not be genetically engineered to be more intelligent than normal humans. The babies would be genetically engineered to grow up to be obedient, unquestioning workers who would not mind working in the factory for 80 hours a week, beginning at the age of 12. The whole project would be kept secret, unknown outside of the company owned by Crassus.

Let's genetically engineer these kids to be strong and energetic,” said Crassus. “But let's take out lots of the genes related to intelligence, independence and the human spirit. So these kids won't grow up to be real full-fledged people. They'll kind of be like what we may call half people. They'll be kind of like half-zombie drones, and won't mind working their asses off all their lives, getting only room and board for pay.”

Yes sir, Mister Crassus,” said Meekson.

Hiring scientists who would work in secret, Meekson arranged for the genetic engineering to be done. A hundred female eggs were combined with male sperm, and the fertilized eggs were then raised in 100 special glass incubators. Eight months later, the hundred babies were born. They were raised together in the same special child-raising facility, which was manned by ten employees each charged with taking care of ten children. Crassus refused to pay for any more nannies, demanding that the children be raised as inexpensively as possible.

When the children approached four years of age, Meekson asked his billionaire boss how the children should be schooled.

I want them to learn almost nothing about the outside world,” said Crassus. “I don't want them to get jealous about other people who don't have to work in a factory 80 hours a week. Teach them only what they need to do their jobs in the factory that will make killer robots.”

Yes sir, Mister Crassus,” said Meekson.

When the 100 children reached the age of twelve, Crassus ordered that they should begin their jobs at the secret armaments factory. The children did not object to the 80 hours of work each week, for they had been told for seven years that this is how they would have to work when they reached the age of 12. The children knew of no reality beyond their company's facilities and factory.

For two years, the productivity of the children was very high. They toiled at their hard jobs with few complaints. They lived in barracks like soldiers. Whenever one of the children complained, he could usually be pacified by giving him some candy, something the children had been denied in their childhood.

But eventually somehow one of the 100 children learned that 80-hour work weeks were not normal for fourteen-year-old children. The information quickly spread. The children began to talk among themselves. One day they refused to work, demanding better conditions and shorter working hours.

You idiot, the scientists you hired probably bungled the genetic engineering,” said Crassus to Meekson. “The 100 half-people weren't supposed to be capable of such independence.” It never occurred to Crassus that maybe the human spirit was something that went beyond a person's genes.

We'll have to get tough,” said Crassus. “Get a gun, go into the factory, and shoot one of those little rebels. Tell them they will all be killed unless they get back to work. It may seem rough, but I've got to get my next billion dollars some way, haven't I?”

Yes sir, Mister Crassus,” said Meekson.

Meekson got the gun, but he couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger. He told Crassus what had happened.

Oh, so you got a little problem – well, I'll fix that,” said Crassus.

Crassus went with Meekson into the factory, and asked for the gun. Crassus then shot one of the young workers, killing him.

This is how you'll all die if you don't get back to work!” shouted Crassus.

That should scare these damn rebels into submission,” said Crassus. “I'm going to France, and when I come back, I'll expect to see the workers working 80 hours a week like before.”

When Crassus returned from his business trip to France, he went into the factory to inspect it. There were no workers there. Enraged, he summoned Meekson.

Why is the factory empty?” asked Crassus. “Why isn't this factory churning out killer robots? I told you there were to be no days off.”

The workers are out enjoying your money,” said Meekson. “While you were in France, I pulled some computer shenanigans and financial funny business that amount to a billion dollar embezzlement. I've arranged for your billion dollars to be divided up among those children that you've mistreated for so long, and I'm keeping a few million myself.”

You scum, I will destroy you!” raged Crassus.

Crassus looked around and saw a killer robot at the end of one of the factory's assembly lines. He switched on a switch on the robot's side. The robot stood up.

Robot, do as I command,” said Crassus. “Kill human!” Crassus pointed to Meekson.

I OBEY,” said the robot. “KILL HUMAN.”

The robot reached out its metal arms, and strangled Crassus to death.

That's a good robot,” said Meekson with a chuckle, turning the robot off. He thought to himself: I'm lucky these silly things are so stupid.

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