Following the departure of Atos, the Department for Work and Pensions has awarded the contract for conducting Work Capability Assessments to ‘Benefits Enforcement Droid’ model IDS-209.
The droid, manufactured by Omni Consumer Products, was originally intended for law enforcement and is armed with three auto cannons, one auto shotgun and a rocket launcher.
‘Yes, technically it is a killer robot,’ said DWP minister Esther McVey, ‘but IDS-209 has been programmed to use its weapons in only the most extreme circumstances. So long as everyone complies with its requests there really shouldn’t be any problems.’
In future, applicants will be expected to sit before the droid, who will scan their benefits claim. If IDS-209 is in any way dissatisfied with the application, it will make the request: ‘Please withdraw your claim. You have 20 seconds to comply.’ At this point, faced with an arsenal of lethal weaponry pointing directly at them, most claimants are expected to then drop their claim and go home.
However, critics of the scheme have pointed to early trials of the droid in which a number of applicants did as requested and withdrew their claims, but were then faced with the message: ‘You have 10 seconds to comply…,’ then, ‘You have 5 seconds to comply,’ before IDS-209 opened fire and blew them out of the window.
‘Of course these incidents are regrettable,’ said Ms McVey , ‘but if we ignore the human tragedy and look at it in purely monetary terms then this droid is already paying for itself.’
The droid’s designer, Dr McNamara has admitted that IDS-209 does have some limitations. ‘It has weak logic circuits and it cannot process information very quickly,’ he said. ‘Also, it has no concept of compassion or human empathy, which is probably why it was awarded the contract in the first place.’
IDS-209 will be rolled out from next month and will also be making house calls. ‘It still has trouble getting through doorways,’ said Ms McVey, ‘so for the time being it will be entering people’s homes by smashing through the outside wall and conducting its assessments amid the rubble. Needless to say, if anyone tries to run away it only goes to show they are fit for work.’