Systems programmer with high pain threshold required. High salary.

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“Systems programmer with high pain threshold required. High salary.”
If I’d seen a job ad like that a couple of years ago, I would probably have smiled and gone past it. Maybe taken a photo and posted it on my feed. But my financial position today meant I had to pay attention to any opening. It wasn’t that I was throwing myself at any job I saw: but I certainly wanted to read it and find out more.

I already had two interviews booked for the day — so why not one more? I phoned and agreed to come at 9pm. I needed to go to the biophysics institute, in the science district.

“Our network of active sensors installed on the pathway from the thalamus to the somatosensory cortex of the brain makes it possible for us to…”

A couple of grad students from the biophysics institute had spent the last twenty minutes trying to explain to me what their project was all about. I didn’t understand a thing, except that they wanted to get inside my skull and install something there. The professor was further away from me, but in the end she decided to take charge of the conversation herself:

“Let me explain it to you in simple language. We want to place a device inside your brain, something like a piece of gauze, three cm by three cm. It will work itself through the tissues of your brain to the right place, without causing any damage. And then we want you to try to communicate with us by thought.”

“What? You’re going to put some kind of… being, into my head?” I asked in terror.

“No, of course not! It’s not a being. It’s a special kind of active sensors; they don’t have any intelligence. On the contrary, the point is that you can control them yourself, using your brain directly. This device is a kind of console that makes it possible to wield all the power of the human brain using simple commands. Just like controlling a computer from the keyboard.”

“But what if the console gets hacked and someone else starts controlling me?”

“That’s impossible! The device is made from biological materials, and the ONLY way it can be controlled is using the synapses of your brain.”


“This is your own personal upgrade. Direct access to autonomous control over your conscious and subconscious. You’ll be able to manage your emotions, your memory, and everything else, just by thinking commands at the console.”

“So what’s the OS? Linux? Windows? MacOS? OS/2? CP/M?”

“At the moment we’ve installed a very basic command line system. The goal of the experiment is for you to program the console yourself, and extend what it can do. We don’t know exactly how the device will function. By the way, if you agree right away we’ll immediately transfer you $100,000!”

“Oho! In that case… ok — I agree!”

“The anaesthetic is about to start taking effect. Don’t worry, it’ll all be quick and painless!”

“That’s good. But why did the ad say you were looking for a systems programmer with a high pain threshold?”

“Oh, well, that’s because whenever you enter a command at the console you’ll experience an unendurable…”

<Enter ‘wakeup’ to regain consciousness>

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