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Projects > Story-of-the-Day > youber

January 25th, 2017

I was 17 when I ran into a store, grabbed a few cases of beer, and ran. I ended up getting charged with robbery. 'Armed robbery' no less because I happened to have a screwdriver in my pocket. I've spent the last year trying to get a job, but nobody will hire a convicted felon. So I had to come here. I walk into the office, sign in, and sit down on an uncomfortable plastic chair. I'm running a little late for my appointment.

A nurse popped out, "Mr. Cohen?"

That was fast. I stand up and walk back to a small office. The nurse has me sit in a chair with lots of clamps and electrode looking things stuck all around it. I hesitate, but I'm out of options. She sits down and starts typing on a laptop.

"So I have to go through a small talk, have you acknowledge that you understand and agree, then we can proceed."

"Sounds good."

"As you may know, Youber has developed a proprietary combination of hardware and cutting-edge artificial intelligence software that allows a computer to take over your body temporarily. We will temporarily replace your mind with a computer who will then go out and do various jobs using your body. Your selected task is-" The nurse clicked a few buttons and looked at a different part of the screen, "...construction." She looked me up and down, and exhaled sharply through her nose.

"Wait, I don't know anything about construction. I can't drive a forklift or anything.

The nurse looked annoyed, "Like I said, we'll put in an appropriate program that will be able to handle the job. We just need your body, we bring all the skills."

"So will I know how to drive a forklift after this?"

The nurse looked at me for a few seconds, "No...after the job is done. We will remove our program and put you back in. You won't remember a thing."

"Well, what if-"

"Please. Let me finish and you can ask questions after I'm done."

I close my mouth and look at her.

The nurse looks back down at her screen. "You have signed up to be employed as a Youber for..." She paused as she clicked a few buttons again, then continued, "...a trial Wednesday to Friday shift. Please note that Youbers may work for more than eight hours a day. Youber may take out an insurance policy in case of your injury or death, but you are encouraged to get your own."

Yeah right. I wouldn't be here if I could afford insurance.

She continues, "By working with Youber, you understand that your body may experience bodily harm, ranging from bumps to bruises to death, and agree to indemnify Youber and not hold Youber responsible in any way. Do you understand everything that has been described to you?"

"Sure, I'm going to go build a bridge of something and might get hurt. Got it"

"And do you agree to all of the terms?"

"Yup, let's get it going."

The nurse got up and started attaching electrodes to my head, "Ok. I'll attach you up and we'll do the transfer." A few minutes later and I looked like a cyborg from a low budget sci-fi movie. The nurse put her hand on a computer on the desk. "Ok, you are ready. When I initiate the transfer you will be stored on this computer and a Youber program will take control of your body. On Friday, I'll reattach your body up and do the transfer again. You won't have any sense of time between the two, so it will just seem like you blinked away a week. Are you ready?"

"Go for it."

The nurse put her finger on a button, looked at me, and then pushed it down. She then asked, "What is the date, Mr. Cohen?

"Umm, January 25th. It's Wednesday."

"Close. It's Friday, February 3rd. You're all done here. I'll just disconnect you and you can stop by the front desk and collect your pay."

What? That was it? What happened? I looked down to see if anything had changed with my body.

"Please hold still while I remove these electrodes."

An hour later, I walked out with over $1,000! This was awesome! It's funny because I don't remember much of the weekend either due to the alcohol I could now afford.

Monday morning I was back at the Youber office. We went through the whole song and dance again. I got assigned to a Monday to Friday shift doing security at some government office. Fine with me. I think about how I'll spend my next paycheck while the nurse hooks me up.

"Ready Mr. Cohen?"

"Sure, let's do it." She pushes the button and I feel a sharp pain from my left arm. I can't get a look because my head is restrained.

"Hold still, Mr. Cohen. Let me disconnect your first." She carefully removes each of the electrodes, one by one.

The nurse then picks up a paper and hands it to me: "Youber is sorry to say that your body was involved in an instance of bodily harm. During assignment, a person wielding a knife cut your left arm. The cut was superficial and only required suturing. However, due to the nature of the injury you are eligible for reassignment at your discretion. Thank you for being a Youber!"

I look at my arm and there was a large bandage on it. I feel like I should respond negatively and intensely. But I find it funny in some way. I feel pretty ecstatic by the time I get my pay, which includes an injury bonus.

You better believe I'm at the office three days later on Monday. I'm going to be managing traffic at some stadium for an event. Sounds good to me.

I get hooked up and watch as the nurse is pushing the button.

While the first two times were seamless, this one was not. It was hard to pinpoint, but everything seemed to change in the room. The most obvious change was the young female nurse who was not a male in his 50s. Then it hit me. My whole body was aching. I must have been hit by a car or something. I ask, "How bad was it?" I hope the injury bonus makes up for this one.

He looked at me, "What is the date, Mr. Cohen?"

"Umm, it should be Friday February 10th. But how badly am I hurt? Can I work again next week?"

He looked at me and scoffed, "No, I meant what year do you think it is?"

"Uh, 2017. Why?"

"I shouldn't talk, there's a whole group of lawyers just outside waiting to have a conversation with you. But it's 2076. You didn't come back after your last assignment, and nobody could find you. You just walked yourself into our office yesterday. I hope your 77-year old self gets a good bonus on this one." He then handed me a mirror.