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BOFH: Die, Robot

A serious pain in the Asimov

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Episode 10

“A Security Robot?!” the PFY gasps. “Really?”

“Really,” the Boss nods.

“And we have no say in the matter?”

“It’s a security thing.”

“But our technical budget pays for it.”

“Our Capital budget, yes, but the operational expenses will come out of security’s budget.”

“So what sort of robot will it be – something like Robocop or something like the ‘Danger Will Robinson’ kind?” I ask.

“Or maybe the thing with twin miniguns from out of T3!” the PFY gabs excitedly, no doubt thinking how a quick BIOS upgrade could be used to speed up customer relationship meetings.

“Uhm, here’s a picture of it” the Boss says, pulling a printout of a webpage from a nest of papers.

“So more like R2D2,” the PFY sighs in disappointment.

“Something which will protect the company from now until the first stairwell,” I concur.

“No no, this is not hampered by stairwells. It can interface directly with the lift to access all floors. It has some logic.”

“Logic” the PFY says, scratching his jaw thoughtfully. “I think I’ve heard of that. So what sort of weaponry will it have? Some sort of Sidearm, A Taser, Billy Club?”

“It will be unarmed,” the Boss responds, rallying as he sees the disappointment on our faces. “But it does have a full 360 degree camera.”

“Yes, wouldn’t want to face a crim with a crowbar without a 360 degree camera,” the PFY says drily. “So what do we need this robot for anyway?”

“There’s been a spate of thefts from the executive rooms.”

“Thefts? You mean laptops, papers?!” I ask

“The nature of the thefts is inconsequential – the point is that someone’s stealing things and we need to get to the bottom of it.”

“What’s being stolen exactly?”

“Well...” the Boss says, before realising he’s going to have to come clean “>sigh< Chocolates, some demerara sugar sachets, the fancy teabags from the wooden presentation case in the board room...”

“Morning tea supplies?! We’re spending... How much are we spending?”

“That’s immaterial.”

“How much?”

“Seventeen thousand, three hundred pounds.”

“SEVENTEEN THOUSAND POUNDS!!! TO PROTECT MORNING TEA SUPPLIES!!! YOU COULD BUY THEM NEW MORNING TEA SUPPLIES EVERY WEEK AND STILL NOT WASTE SEVENTEEN THOUSAND POUNDS! YOU COULD PAY SOMEONE TO WATCH THEM OVERNIGHT AND STILL NOT WASTE SEVENTEEN THOUSAND POUNDS! YOU COULD BUY A BLOODY SAFE TO KEEP THEM IN!! YOU COULD USE THE SAFE THAT’S ALREADY IN THE BOARDROOM!!!”

“Yes, but this way we get to catch the culprit and prevent crime.”

“And how is it going to catch the culprit exactly?”

“On camera.”

“I see. And it will probably also catch the culprit reaching into his pocket for a screwdriver – moments before the camera goes blank and the hard drive containing the damning footage is removed?”

“Ah ha!” The Boss smirks. “This unit has a strong box in it which can’t be opened. And it also has evasion logic.”

“More logic,” the PFY says “Sounds pretty sneaky.”

“It is,” the Boss nods. “It learns about its environment and can pass the knowledge on to other units.”

“Other units?”

“Oh yes! This one is a prototype, but if it works we’ll add another two to cover the building more thoroughly.”

“So the IT budget is going to be spending three times 17 thousand pounds?!” I gasp.

“Of course not. The first one is seventeen thousand pounds but the subsequent models will only be fifteen.”

“Ah well, that’s alright then!” the PFY says.

... D-Day Arrives ...

“And I now declare this robot... er... open” the Head of Security says, pushing a button on his remote control, bringing the unit to life.

As the PFY, Boss and I look on, a small and somewhat anticlimatic green light starts glowing and the robot makes its way out of the Security offices.

“It’s programmed to go from floor to floor repeatedly over the course of an evening, recording what it sees as it goes.”

“All floors?” the PFY asks.

“All the office floors yes – not B1 and B2. But from floor six to ground, then back up to six, reporting to the security offices each time it gets to ground.”

“Seems feasible I suppose,” the PFY admits grudgingly.

. . . Later that evening. . .

“And here it comes,” the PFY says quietly as the robot cruises smoothly past.

>whirrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRR<

“Yes. A bit of a design flaw – a 360 degree camera that doesn’t take in views above the robot,” I say, from my position beside the PFY in the ceiling space next to the lift.

The PFY hushes me, nodding at the robot as it presses the lift call button.

>PING!<

>whirrrrrrr...< ...

“>PING< ... >TING< ... >t-tang< ... >tink< ....... >CRASH!<”

“So, no ‘logic’ to check that a lift’s actually there when the lift doors open then?” the PFY asks disappointedly.

“No, but look on the bright side – with the 360 degree camera we’ve just saved the company a couple of hundred quid on the annual lift-shaft safety survey...”

“If we weren’t going to push the boardroom safe down there after it...” the PFY says.

“Good point. So just 17 grand down the crapper then. Ah well!”

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