Friday, 27 January 2017

Wage Slave 3.5: Zero Hour Contractors

Over at the vircades project, there is a wonderful short series of excellent Wage Slave posts covering the sort of employment opportunities your cyberpunks would kill just to avoid; jobs that below average NPC citizens have to do, just to keep that flimsy polymer capsule-apartment financed.

Go and look, the posts are highly recommended.

"When half the jobs have been automated and the other half have been outsourced, what are the legitimate options for someone who grew up in the inundated city slums, without access to education or networks?"

Richard's ideas are perfect fodder for detailing the inhabitants of your favourite near-future dystopia.

Inspired by these, I created a short table in the Augmented Reality city kit that touched on similar gig economy jobs; the kind of role you'd get for 24 hours, should your gig agent have anything available for you that day. In this post, I'd like to expand on the gigs from the book a little, as well as a few that got left on the cutting room floor.

Zero Hour Contractors:

Mobile AR Ad Hub: You are supplied with a wearable body rig (usually a vest, with mounted AR projectors) that continually outputs ‘augverts’ (augmented reality pop-up ads), as you wander the streets following a predetermined course, prompted by the rig's onboard GPS. Damage to the rig will come out of your wages. Loitering is prohibited. You will be tracked.

Human CCTV: Cyberoptic implants are required, and you must allow remote admin level access via an easy to install back door (which may not be so easy to remove…), as well as sign a non-disclosure agreement. Your agent will give you your area of operation for the day (usually a department store, car park, 7/11, college campus, or similar), along with a schedule for minimal bathroom breaks (just pray they cut the feed for that).

Gig Groomer: You will be representing the gig agency you are contracted by, and given a quota of potential gig workers to sign up for your agent. A trackable data pad is supplied, and bonuses paid for exceeding your quota. Installing personality enhancement chips is recommended for this gig. No sign-ups means no pay. Loss of the data pad results in a hefty fine as well as non-payment.

Hygiene Dispenser: You will be deployed to a building lobby or reception area, and sometimes you'll operate in the street, where you will remain for the duration of the gig. You will be supplied with a paper coverall, nitrile gloves and a 20L back-mounted tank full of hand sanitiser, or other germicidal, dispensed by trigger pump to hygiene conscious citizens. You may leave your patch once you've run out of gel. Pay is docked per 500ml remaining at the end of your shift. The tank must be returned in good condition, but the gloves and coverall are yours to keep.

Substrate Fairy: You will seek out and collect recyclable materials to be reused for 3D printing. Particular substrates may be specified such as polymers, aluminium, resins, ceramics etc. Mechanical grippers, kevlar gloves and a wearable plastic basket are supplied, all of which must be returned at the end of the contract, or forfeit payment.

Organ Surrogate: This gig is more likely to run for a week and is subsequently a much better paid job. Following a quick blood test, you will be initially implanted with a fresh cloned organ, which is hooked to a major artery of your choice. Your blood flow then ensures the cloned organ can mature prior to proper implantation. Painkillers and dressings are supplied. Loss or damage of the organ will be considered a breach of contract, leading to withholding of agreed payment and possible legal action. Infections are considered as loss or damage for contractual purposes.

Meds Manager: Also known as a Malady Manager, your job is to deliver the specified medications to the old and/or infirm, and to ensure their ingestion. Failure to deliver said medications will result in loss of payment, as will any failure in administering them. Legal action will be taken if any harm comes to the client, their property or to the supplied pharmaceuticals. Shift quotas are common and transport costs will only be reimbursed if the correct receipts are submitted to the agency.

Brand Spammer: You will be supplied with a data chip (chip socket or interface plug required) containing the necessary information to actively promote a brand, a product or an ideology to strangers, in public. Your area of operation will be determined by the agency, based on client preference. A measured uptake in brand awareness or ideological sympathy will result in a bonus payment.

Pest Microwaver: You will receive one hours training (unpaid) and be issued with an RFID tagged microwaver 'handgun' to roast various vermin at a predetermined location. Payment is based on the number of nuisance bioforms microwaved within the duration of the shift. Loss of the microwaver will result in a loss of payment and a fine to the value of the weapon (RRP). Transport costs are not covered by this contract.

Drone Repoman: Supplied with a bulky tracker, it is your job to trace and recover downed courier drones for a variety of clients, wherever they may end up. Transport costs will be reimbursed on submission of receipts to the agency. Bonuses will be paid if the drone's payload is also recovered. A trace with a failure to recover results in partial payment, at the agency's discretion. The loss of, or damage to, the tracker unit will result in a withheld payment. Injury to the contractor is not covered. Ammunition expenses are similarly not covered by this contract.

Human Troll: A variant of the Brand Spammer above, your job will be to verbally broadcast the disinformation provided, or to make political or personal attacks towards a contractually specified target or targets.

Implant Incubator: Similar to the Organ Surrogate above, you will be implanted with test-grade cybernetic implants (neural processor or Direct Neural Interface required), but with a view to noting any behavioural or physical changes, much like the Chippy Pig below. The contract is void in the event of a major psychological breakdown on the part of the contractor. The agency takes no responsibility for any loss of empathy experienced by the worker.

Chippy Pig: Your job is to install new memory or reflex skill chips, in your own chip socket or interface plug, and follow a supplied itinerary of activities pertaining to the testing of the booted chip. You are also supplied with a digital recorder (trackable) to verbally record any physiological or psychological variations you may experience. Loss of the supplied chip will result in immediate legal action and payment will be zero.

Dataterm Medic: You will be dispatched to an area with a digital map of the local dataterms and a janitorial kit including anti-bacterials, sanitisers and screen wipes, with a view to cleaning these public terminals of gum, pen, paint, vomit, urine and other biohazards. You will also make note of malfunctioning or damaged units on the form-fillable PDFs provided. Loss or damage of the kit will result in reduced or withheld payment. Other PPE is to be provided by the contractor themselves. A smartphone or tablet is necessary to display the map and PDFs (not provided).

Synthetic Backend: A handful of companies employ humans pretending to be AIs pretending to be humans. Companies offering do-anything concierges, shopping assistants and e-mail schedulers have sprung up, but not every start-up can afford expensive AI. You will be contracted per hour to sit in a hot, cramped cubicle, in front of an outmoded terminal, and schedule meetings for gullible tech executives who have too much money.

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