In a dystopian future, genetic editing, stem cell research and cloning have become commonplace. Humans in embryo can be genetically modified and designed to a immense variation; some people can give themselves scorpion tails, for example, while others make their brains twice the size. Professional swimmers have fins and webbed digits, professional bodybuilders have inhuman muscle mass etc...

Human anatomy can be redesigned to whatever shape a scientist can imagine.

Due to cultural collapse, there are no legal or moral restrictions on the extent of genetic editing.

A mega corporation wants to exploit this. This corporation presently hires millions of office workers, fulfilling a multitude of admin and secretarial duties. They consider regular humans to be inefficient and cost ineffective. The corporation wants to lay off all their current admin workers, and replace them with an army of cloned super secretaries.

So, what modifications should be made to the typical human design in order to make these office workers more efficient?

Answers might include additional arms to help them type faster, or modified brains so that they will not be distracted by any social activities, or even crippled legs so they can never leave their desks. The admin jobs in question are all low paying, require limited creativity, and are based solely around using computers.

For legal reasons, these factory farmed workers are not 'human', and no human rights apply.

The corporation cares solely about reducing cost and streamlining efficiency. They want to design a template for the ultimate office drone, to be reused across their business.

Anything biologically feasible is possible, with some flexibility considering they're using future tech.

  • $\begingroup$ Are these modifications in utero or things that can be done as adults (or older children)? You say "embryo" but then you say "give themselves" and "make their brains twice the size." $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ Only in utero. The 'give themselves' was a poor choice of words. $\endgroup$
    – user54563
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ Firstly, it would probably be more efficient just to create computer programs which can perform paperwork with little oversight from humans. If you really want modified office workers, then the best way to do it would be to remove everything but the brain, heart, and lungs, and connect their nerves directly to electrical circuits somehow. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 14:34

2 Answers 2


For a more dystopian setting:

Improve eyesight to reduce electricity costs and reduce industrial espionage. Additionally, reduce the size of text on monitors to the minimal resolution to have more information displayed at one time.

Reinforce the spine and other musculoskeletal structures to reduce ergonomical injuries such as back pains or repetitive strain injury when saving on office furniture and peripherals.

Supply large fat reserves and the means of utilising them without feeling hunger or thirst to reduce the time spent feeding.

Reduce temperature sensitivity to reduce the cost of maintaining HVAC systems.

Increase the amount of hands, arms and digits to allow for maximum desk coverage. A digit for each key on the desk would be ideal, with more keys meaning less typing through the use of stenotype machines.

Reduce the size of or entirely remove the prefrontal cortex and other non-essential parts of the brain to reduce energy consumption and unnecessary brain activity.

Adjust the metabolism and brain to imitate that of giraffes to reduce sleep to up to 3 five-minute sessions per day.

Modify the workforce's appearance to be as grotesque and inhumane as possible to reduce the uprising of human and animal rights organisations.

Boost the immune system to reduce the risk of infection in your cramped, dark, humid and dirty workhouses.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for removing the prefrontal cortex. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 #lobotomy $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ You should reinforce or even stiffen their spines to prevent typical office-ailments like back pain or stiff necks. Also, higher tolerance to warmer and colder temperatures reduces costs for air conditioning. $\endgroup$
    – Elmy
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Elmy Well spotted! May I add your suggestions to the answer (courtesy of yourself)? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Elmy better immune system to avoid illnesses, better lungs so the O2 quantity is not a concern, and maybe a reduced hearing to minimise the amount of distractions $\endgroup$
    – DarthDonut
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 13:51

I think the most important trait of an office drone would be agreeableness - the ability to stay positive, happy and kind even in adverse circumstances. Agreeableness is about as heritable as is height, so you could definitely engineer more of it into people. Of course, a really high intelligence would be help at the office, as would an eagerness to please and an urge to seek validation in the approval of peers and bosses. I'm sure that an aversion to conflict also has a strong genetic component, and it would be valuable in an office drone. He or she should also be a very consciencious but minimally neutrotic person, someone who brings joy to others every working day. Basically, you would want to engineer a Smithers from The Simpsons, but even smarter, more cheerful and more capable.


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