A Simple Survey:Volume1 File23

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File 23: This Time the Ice Age is Real[edit]

This conversation occurred at the university job hunting center.

“No, I think you are mistaken about something. No company hires people based on their academic record anymore,” said the young female receptionist in a tone flatter than a business robot’s.

In my suit for interviews, I frantically said, “Wait, wait. Then what’s the point of this university?”

“Who knows. I think the only reason it’s still here is because the stubborn government workers refuse to revise the system. I don’t really know though. Your cell phone has a dictionary in it, right? With that, you can blend into society even if your knowledge of kanji is horribly insufficient.”

The receptionist did not seem very motivated as she sipped at some green tea in a teacup she held elegantly in both hands (but her face was coolly expressionless).

“I can speak four languages.”

“You can buy a smartphone live translation app for 4500 yen that can handle 20 languages. The phone handles speech and the camera handles text, so it can carry out excellent translations in real time. How long did it take you to learn four languages? Was the value of the time and effort you put into that less than 4500 yen?”

“Th-this certainly is a world of convenience we live in,” I said in desperation, but the receptionist merely nodded.

She started munching on a rice cracker she had left next to the counter for herself.

“It really is. The people creating these apps are likely simply hoping for a more convenient world, but as a result, they have created a society where every type of talent and value can be easily spread throughout the population. Simply put, we have all become equal. Individuality has been lost. …Humans are all together and all the same. But that has made hiring difficult. How are you supposed to choose an employee out of the new graduates who all look the same?”

“Well, if anyone’s fine, can’t they just hire me?”

“If anyone was fine, they would not need to hire new people in the first place, you idiot. It would be faster to simply have their current employees download a new app. Labor costs can be economized, too.”

The hiring rate of college graduates was down to a horrifying 0.005 of what it used to be.

With the way society had changed, it was not too surprising. The real question was what had become of all those people who could not find a job.

“This reminds me of the robot riots.”

“You mean when cheap artificial laborers were taking all the flesh-and-blood humans’ jobs, so those who claimed they could not find a job rioted? Personally, I think they should have cursed the life they had lived that made them so undesirable rather than cursing those created puppets.”

“But they did get the robot labor regulation law passed due to occupying the main road along Nagatacho for 2 months. Now that the number of robots a single company can own is limited, we are living in the age of humans. But if companies have a single employee use too many apps, they’ll just collapse from overwork, right? So don’t they need at least a few new workers?”

The receptionist looked as expressionless as any robot as she pulled a package of youkan out of a small refrigerator sitting at her feet (that she had brought in for herself).

“Paying reparations for overworking a single employee is cheaper than paying labor costs for hundreds of employees.”

“…So human beings are treated like disposable gears?”

“The gears known as robots were driven out of society, so humans had to take their place.”

The receptionist’s eyebrows actually twitched slightly as she had difficulty opening the youkan’s plastic packaging due to her neatly cut fingernails.

“Hm? But I thought the app problem was limited to intellectual work. What about physical labor?”

“That’s when that powered suit underneath your suit comes into play. It’s no different from a very effective app. You aren’t what companies need. It’s the equipment you wear. As long as people have that same equipment, it doesn’t matter who they are.”

“Gnhh!? B-but I have confidence in my health. I’m not talking about athletic ability here. If you want a stable source of physical labor, you need someone healthy…”

“Health management apps are all over the place thanks to that popular diet app from a few years ago that left everyone in bad shape. If you follow the graph in what you eat and how you exercise, anyone can become healthy.”

“Th-then what about artistic work…?”

“About 80% of artistic creation is done with the help of inspiration AI. Any kind of artistic or literary work is created by the balance and arrangement of AIs. To be honest, it is a vague and difficult to judge field, so I will give no further comment on it.”

“Wh-what about the world of things like shogi and chess?”

“Do I really need to explain this? I do not think a human brain is ever used in actual matches any more. Oh, but someone needs to use their fingers to move the pieces to where the composite AI indicates, so I suppose you could argue a human brain is needed from a purely technical standpoint. Maybe the day will come when only the spinal cord is needed.”

“S-so what do you need to get hired? What decides it?”

“Your ability to create a nice atmosphere?”

“…What?”

The receptionist finally managed to get the plastic off the youkan. She said something I could not believe while bringing the cola-colored confectionery down for a soft landing on a small plate.

“Your humanity, your ability to create a character for yourself, your ability to read between the lines, your ability to cheer people up, your ability to get along with the community. I think it might be things like that.”

“Um…What are you talking about?”

The receptionist expressionlessly sliced the youkan using a plastic spatula. When I reached out to grab a piece, she mercilessly struck the back of my hand.

“The human ability to think, to calculate, and to carry out physical labor are supplemented by apps and machines, so it can’t be helped. What else do humans have left? If anyone can do the job, then why not invite those who are easy to get along with to the workplace?”

“What!? So the carefree people who made fun of the people taking the lectures seriously are the ones who do well in life!?”

“It’s because you view school as nothing more than a place to accumulate knowledge that people like you get so frantic when it comes time to find a job. I hope you have realized that this is no time to be prizing a breast-shaking app that uses gyro sensors. No matter how hard you shake it, the bikini straps will not come undone.”

“Ghh!? H-how do you know about that!? Where did you get that information!?”

“But the thing about job hunting is…”

She sipped at her green tea and ate some youkan, but she did not continue.

Was she giving her own enjoyment priority?

“What? What’s the thing about job hunting?”

“I mentioned before that it had to do with your humanity and ability to get along with other people, but how long will those be exclusively human things? Technology has developed quite a lot lately.”

“Y-you mean it is starting to give people the ability to make friends or lovers?”

“Con artist groups have put together detailed manuals on how to scam old people. They’re something like complex flowcharts. And TV producers have gathered detailed data on what makes people laugh or cry.”

“I-if they actually make apps like that, what will happen to us?”

“The day might be coming when the number of friends you have is determined by whether you download certain apps or not. Perhaps the same will determine the results of elections. Everyone looking down at a screen as they speak with their friends or lovers would be a strange sight indeed.”

“That’s not what I meant. I was asking what would happen to those of us trying to find a job.”

“Who knows.”

The young receptionist tilted her head cutely while still expressionless.

“Maybe it will just come down to luck. Or I suppose the day could come when you get a job based on whether you are attractive or not. Oh, but things like clothes and hairstyle could be handled by fashion apps, so it would simply be how attractive a face you have. By the way, are you the confident type?”

“…!?”