Author: David C. Nutt
It was a beautiful VR construction. Potted dwarf apricot trees, soaring arches, piles of ornate cushions and silk settees, thick oriental carpets. It was, by all accounts, the most perfect steampunk zeppelin grand salon the Adjustor had ever seen. Clearly, Citizen Archer had a keen eye for detail. Adjustor 507 sighed. Such a waste of talent.
“How did you get in here?”
Adjustor 507 reached into his jacket pocket barely noticing how fine the VR Edwardian wool waistcoat construction was as he pulled out his badge.
“As per the Bureau of Individual Ethics and Standards, I have warrant to go anywhere, including any kind of VR construction being utilized.”
“But this is my own world. My own thoughts. No one else is allowed here.”
“I understand you think that. Sadly, what happens here bleeds out into your real world. Since your purchase of this program and the construction of this simulation, there has been an 8% rise in your workplace aggression. Nothing too serious needed beyond this visit and intensified monitoring, but the aggressive peer comebacks and the inappropriate gender construct comment- “
“Inappropriate gender construct comment?”
“Yes. You were flagged by our system after a routine review of the national workplace CCTV footage picked up a questionable exchange. That exchange was selected for human review. On Fifthday last, you referred to the small watercraft you are building as “she”.
“But that’s what ships are called… “
Adjustor 507 interrupted. “Exactly the problem. The term comes from a day when women were routinely objectified. A watercraft with a female pronoun. An embodiment of a woman who could be lashed down, made to go where the patriarchy demanded.”
“It’s a boat.”
The adjustor sighed. “It starts with a boat. Then it generalizes by increments until it spills out as full-fledged gender-biased microaggressions. From sailor to sexist oppressor. It is better for the broader society if we stop this now.”
“At what cost to the individual?”
The Adjustor narrowed his eyes “I beg your pardon Citizen Archer.”
Citizen Archer stood up. “I said ‘what cost to the individual?’”
The Adjustor smiled. “I thought so.”
Archer smiled “Thought what?”
“It’s not nothing. You just got through telling me what happens in my head spills out into the real world.’”
The Adjustor took a step backwards. “I’m not the issue here-“
“No. What you think matters. How you act on those thoughts matter. Is there a bias you are hiding?”
The Adjustor rolled his eyes “Not bias, data. Your types-“
“My types? Do you mean older late 21st century males of predominantly Caucasian extraction?”
The Adjustor began to sweat visibly. “I-I-I just follow the data.”
“Indeed. End simulation.”
The steampunk zeppelin disappeared. In its place, not anyone resembling Citizen Archer, but a representative from Internal Affairs.
“Yes Adjustor 507, you are following the data. However, the data sets you are selecting indicate a more than 30% bias against the aforementioned profile.”
Adjustor 507 shoulders sunk. “I-I-I- don’t know what to say. I thought I was doing my duty.”
The Internal Affairs officer smiled sympathetically. “I understand. It’s nothing that a few hundred hours of biased data selection avoidance training can’t cure. Report to the re-education center for your district on Firstday”
Adjustor 507 handed the Internal Affairs officer his badge and left the room.
The I.A. officer did not smile, nor sigh, nor do anything that could possibly be construed as any positive or negative emotion at all. Yet, deep in their soul, they jumped for joy.
Fine take on a relevant concept with an eye to detail and humour, too.
Quis custodes …? I suspect that is better than it is, but not as good as it should be, but a nice, wry look at the concept, with a nice twist in the tail.