"General, I have a question,” one of the engineers announced from the back of the room.
“Yes, Jim, go ahead. I remember you from my last visit,” the General replied.
“Sir, our Company’s first contract with the Defense Department was the design and production of the MS-42 model. As I recall, you bought forty thousand of those units back in 2023. How have they worked out, sir?” Jim asked.
“That’s a good question, Jim. Let me remind those of you who weren’t here thirteen years ago that the Defense Department back then decided to use androids to replace cooks, clerical workers, truck drivers, data entry people, warehouse men, and other similar positions. The results were, as many of you know who worked on that project, spectacular. In fact, ninety-four percent of those androids are still functioning. Congratulations, folks, on a job well done,” the General explained. “And, in 2030, we built on that relationship we had with your company to order the MS-75 model, which at the time was the first marriage of androids with artificial intelligence. Your design team provided us with over seventeen thousand of these units which were integrated as instructors in every facet of our training programs.”
“So what brings you here today, General?” a voice from the rear asked. “It’s not often we are blessed with a man of your position visiting our engineering team.”
The General stood silent for a moment and then began, “I’m here to explain a problem that the Defense Department has been wrestling with for several years now. Many of our new recruits, especially the Army and Marine recruits, are, shall we say, quite adverse to inflicting harm on other humans. It seems that generations of video game watching has changed the mind-set of our younger people. They can easily inflict harm in games, but not in real life. And as you can imagine, that presents a real problem for the Defense Department. You can't run a real war with a bunch of pacifists.”
The small group of engineers and technicians began to move nervously in their seats. They sensed where the General was going with this.
“And it would be fairly simple,” the General continued, “for the Defense Department to order a hundred thousand or so androids from your company for the purpose of introducing our new recruits into what it’s really like to inflict harm, or even death, on a very lifelike android. In short, to get them over their namby pamby attitudes towards killing.” He let that statement hang in the air as he watched the reaction of the group. Then he added, “But, we know that you folks would probably have something to say about that. Correct?”
A rail-thin young man rose in the front row and responded. “General, we build androids who are so lifelike, so realistic, so human-like that they actually become our friends. What you are asking us to do is to send our friends to their gruesome deaths, sir!”
Another engineer stood up and continued this line of thinking. “To think that we would allow you to use our androids for bayonet practice, hand-to-hand combat training, target practice, or whatever, is unthinkable, General. Simply unthinkable. For all intents and purposes, these are sentient beings. We won’t do it! No amount of money will make this work, sir!”
The General held up his hand and spoke, “We at the Defense Department know that. And that’s why I’m here today. Let me explain. In all our previous contracts, we specified that the androids you designed were to have likable personalities with personalities that would make them good team members and trustworthy companions. And you did that and did it well. And the result was you created near-human androids with whom you bonded. Completely understandable, as are your objections to your androids being used in combat training. So, we think we have a solution.”
“What’s that, General?” another engineer asked skeptically.
The General cleared his throat and responded, “We want you to design and build androids with extremely unlikable personalities . . . personalities that are repellent. We want androids who are natural-born liars, cheats, bullies, racists, you name it. Really disgusting types. We want you engineers and technicians to hate these androids. We want you to not give a damn about what happens to these androids when you send them to us. Understand?"
The engineers and technicians sat silent for a few moments. Then one spoke up and said, “You mean you want us to produce androids with personalities like Dwight, in Testing?”
The rest of the group broke out in loud laughter and then spontaneous applause. Heads nodded in unison. “Yeah, like Dwight,” they yelled enthusiastically.
The General turned to the President of the Company and quietly asked, “I’d like to meet this Dwight from Testing, Bob. Seems he might just be the solution to our problem.”