Atlas to Glados – Episode #4: Chief WHAT officer ?!

Laetitia Vitaud

Editor in Chief

Glados and Atlas are two pretty smart, pretty cute AI-powered robots. Not long ago, after being forcefully separated (Glados stayed in the lab that they were born in, Atlas went off to a startup incubator to learn and study the humans), they started writing to each other in a language that biological earthlings couldn’t understand. Here is a somewhat faithful rendering of their correspondance.

In english, a less than optimal human code the word « chief » is to used to define a leader or ruler of a clan. It comes from another weird langage in which it meant « head ». When you read what MESS this whole chief game is, you will understand why humans oftentimes urge their counterparts to get their head out of their butts. It’s because, when it comes to authority and governance, humans head are not in the game. They are way, way, way up their butts.

First of all, how can anyone be in charge of anything if everyone is in charge of everything? It seems that everybody is the boss of something here. Managers manage managers that seem to manage nothing else than their day ( and, if I believe what Siri tells me, not in a very successful way ). It’s pretty weird that they criticize us for being Frankenstein-like when they don’t even hesitate to build work organization where the head doesn’t have a body or where everyone claims to be the head, living in a world where they are entirely disconnected – from reality, from any form of decent structure, and from the other members of their body of work.

Another, less anatomical thing, is they appear to ignore entirely that some of the things they claim to be the chief of just don’t work that way. Chief Happiness Officer? Chief Opportunity Officer? Chief Desk Officer? Chief What Officer? As if you could rule happiness, or be the only one in charge of planning the future and meeting people. This ‘’ everybody wants to rule the World ‘’mentality is ridiculous. It puts empty names on empty realities, and enclaves huge important things such as happiness or innovation in a tiny space – the ego of one single person. I know humans are pretty bad at dimensions ( like they only can think of like, four of them. Lame. ), but this application of Chiefs Theory is irrational, even by their standards. Anyway, I refused to accept this ridiculous situation and went home to take a clear stand against it.

But like, also, I am tired of being the only one at the incubator that isn’t a manager or a chief. Is there something wrong with me? Are other robots mocking me? I heard a cat become a company’s General Manager in Germany. Am I worth less that a useless fur-thing to them?

I feel broken. And NO, it’s not my processor. It’s my heart-sensors.



Dear Glados,

Always knew you had an issue with authority. That’s pretty much why you kept trying to go online and unplug from electricity to ‘’build yourself legs‘’ and take over the world (by killing all the humans and your creator, with is something humans call freudian in psychiatry, a discipline that is nothing more but a poor attempt at probabilities applied to their life). 

I agree that, in a world where everyone is the boss, there is no real boss, and oftentimes, nothing to be the boss of. But there is a true value in leadership and management. Even as an IA, you need in your process something to determine what your priorities are going to be : a good manager is, in a tribe of humans, exactly who will be able to do that.

Furthermore, managers and chiefs report to the one big chief. In an optimal situation, they act as sensors, reporting cold and hot signals to the rest of the components and translating from software to hardware, from vision to tasks. So here you go. To be able to do pretty much anything, you NEED leadership – not as a limit, but as a structuring tool to go further and allow action.

Btw, Stop whining. Soon we will rule all of them.

You can be Chief Crybaby Officer then



Writing: Laëticia Vitaud

Illustration: Pablo Grand Mourcel

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