For the fourth time that day, Alice entered the details of a new job into the database. As usual, she changed the specified account executive from Jack to Bruce. Jack had actually left the company some 3 years earlier, but the database still defaulted to him. This default behaviour added a slight tinge of irritation to the tedium of Alice’s job, but it was such a mild irritation that she did not even consciously notice it. Only in some quiet, lonely corner of her mind did a lone neuron cry out in frustration, unheard.
It would have, of course, been a simple alteration to the settings in the database to switch the default to Bruce, but the thought never even crossed Alice’s mind. If one might pardon the viciousness, it would be fair to say that there were few thoughts that ever crossed Alice’s mind. So it was that she continued soldiering on, following the same routine that she had followed each work-day for the better part of a decade, unquestioningly replicating the actions that had been shown to her by her predecessor, all those years ago.
As she closed the jobs listing, the database threw up the query that it always presented, and Alice dismissed it, as usual, without a thought. When she had seen it for the first time, on her very first day, it had seemed rather peculiar, and what little thought she devoted to it eventually produced the conclusion that it was probably an error produced by a spell-checker automatically changing the word “worklist” sometime during the development of the database. Since then, it – like most things – hadn’t warranted a second thought. “Would you like to save the world?” it asked. As always, she clicked “no“.
High above in the depths of space, the asteroid inched a little closer.