The Atlantic

The Coders Programming Themselves Out of a Job

When workers automate their own duties, who should reap the benefits?
Source: Gabrielle Lurie / Reuters

In 2016, an anonymous confession appeared on Reddit: “From around six years ago up until now, I have done nothing at work.” As far as office confessions go, that might seem pretty tepid. But this coder, posting as FiletOFish1066, said he worked for a well-known tech company, and he really meant nothing. He wrote that within eight months of arriving on the quality-assurance job, he had fully automated his entire workload. “I am not joking. For 40 hours each week, I go to work, play League of Legends in my office, browse Reddit, and do whatever I feel like. In the past six years, I have maybe done 50 hours of real work.” When his bosses realized that he’d worked less in half a decade than most Silicon Valley programmers do in a week, they fired him.

The tale quickly went viral in tech corners of the web, ultimately prompting its protagonist to delete not just the post, but his entire account.

About a year later, someone calling himself or herself Etherable to Workplace on Stack Exchange, one of: “Is it unethical for me to not tell my employer I’ve automated my job?” The conflicted coder described accepting a programming gig that had turned out to be “glorified data entry”—and, six months ago, writing scripts that put the entire job on autopilot. After that, “what used to take the last guy

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