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I'm a genius inventor who's managed to come up with a drug that increases the occurrence of rational behaviour over 400% among human beings. This drug makes humans more likely to communicate effectively with others and make plans rather than rushing into situations that will be difficult to get out of and will cause many problems. I'd like to test this drug on a larger scale before final implementation, and I believe I've found the perfect test subject. One software company has been behaving rather erratically and irrationally lately, failing to properly communicate and worrying its many customers. This software company is called XYZ Industries.

For this test, I'm going to need a way to administer this drug to every XYZ employee who works at their main office within a similar timeframe, ideally 24 hours. The drug can be administered via food, water, air, or injection, but it must affect every XYZ employee and no other people. How can I administer this drug to all of XYZ simultaneously, causing a sudden uptick in rationality and allowing me to move on to worldwide implementation, hopefully stopping all wars and ending much human hardship?

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Administer it during a company event

Most software companies have some sort of out-of-office "townhalls" / "all hands" / outdoors training / R&R events. These vary, but typically you can find some sort of event for employees only which is either mandatory, or so enticing you can count on near 100% participation.

So, step one is arrange for such an event or piggyback an already planned event. Step two is to gain access to that event as a services provider / caterer etc. (depending on chosen method of administering the drug) - as you are a genius, this should be attainable. Finally, step three: administering the drug - depending on the event, it can be something done during registration (stamp every employee's wrist or give them a silicon bracelet with a skin-contact version of the drug), something in the food/drink/refreshments (including the gluten-free, vegan, kosher, low lactose options, of course!) or, if applicable, as part of a special activity (carnival rides, VR/AR experience, massages, foam-party, swimming with dolphins etc.etc.etc. some companies do some really crazy/extravagant things, after all...)

All of this is assuming:

  • You do not care about the ethics this experiment.
  • You don't need a control group receiving a placebo, you just wish to observe the effect of the drug when administered to an entire test population.
  • You are clever enough not to get caught. Not even by a crowd of people with artificially increased rationality.
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    $\begingroup$ Minor point regarding assumption 3 - you definitely wouldn't leave any hints to your identity in the details of a user account you've already created on Someone Else's sites, right? ;) $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Oct 6 at 14:19
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Luckily for you someone has already developed a large scale system to deliver performance improving chemicals to all the staff employed within a premises, you just need to piggyback on it.

The systems are called

coffee vending machines

and they are ubiquitous in all work environment.

Just disguise as a maintainer, add a dispenser to the internal water tank, refill it when needed.

Since it is almost a trope between all users of those machines to complain about the taste of the dispensed products, you can also get away with some taste of the drug itself.

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    $\begingroup$ While this is likely to dose most employees, it won't get every employee. There are a significant number of people that don't drink coffee. $\endgroup$ – Makyen Oct 7 at 2:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Makyen Or drink one coffee in the morning before they go to work, like I do. Any more than that and I'd be too wired to focus. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Oct 7 at 9:07
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    $\begingroup$ @F1Krazy, I don't drink coffee at all, yet I use those machines, since they also dispense chocolate, tea, hot and cold water $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Oct 7 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ While this was certainly my first thought as well, not only is coffee not actually used by everyone, but these coffee machines are also often used by visiting guests; so, while your contract of employment might let you do "random drug tests" on your employees, this is likely to drug visiting vendors, prospective clients, etc. as well. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Oct 7 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ Organize a team-building trip during work hours, take everyone to a large Spain-themed hotel. Have the hotel's doctor administer the drug during an examination. Because nobody suspects the Spanish Inn Physician! Sorry. $\endgroup$ – Corey Oct 8 at 3:47
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It's too easy.

There's a kitchen or lunchroom or some such. One day, a lot of trays of food show up.

Little signs have a message like so. The meeting didn't happen but the catering order could not be canceled. So here is a lot of free food. Please help us dispose of it so we don't have to throw it away. Please be tidy.

The free food includes pizza (both with and without animal products), sandwiches, muffins, apples, soft drinks, coffee, milk, fruit juice, and last but not least, 6 flavors of ice cream including two low-fat and one low-sugar variety. And even several dozen bottles of water. Depending on the local culture, maybe it includes some halal or kosher versions of several food products.

Such things show up at my company on a regular basis. The resulting frenzy is very much like a biblical plague of locusts. If there's enough free food there's a good chance people will save some for later, or even take it home for their families.

After about 10 minutes, the department support staff will be competing with each other on who can send out the cleverest email telling people about the free food. Nobody will bother trying to figure out what meeting didn't happen, because we are used to there being meetings with clients that we are not told about. The buzz phrase is "ring fence" and it means we have to keep confidential information. Maybe a software company is negotiating to do a medical database, for example, and the details have to be kept private.

You could even put some special touches in. Like you could make it look like the local catering company did it, the company everybody likes the food but thinks is too expensive. You could even hire them to do the catering, so they show up in uniform.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice idea - but as you wrote it includes the danger of people taking it home and sharing with their families, which would go against "all employees and no one else" $\endgroup$ – Falco Oct 8 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ That's only if there is "enough free food", so you'd have to measure out enough that people don't immediately grab things to take home, and remove it all before there's time for people to scrounge for left-overs. $\endgroup$ – Erik Oct 8 at 14:49
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As genius inventors go, you are obviously lacking in some rationality yourself. The first recommendation is you should take a dose yourself. The proposed trial is obviously unethical and shouldn't be allowed.

Not so strangely acting ethically is actually is the best method of administering the rationality boosting drug and testing its efficacy.

Inform all the XYZ employees of the rationality boosting capacity of the drug. Offer bonuses for those who display marked improvement in their rational behaviour. Issue all XYZ staff with their doses of Rationality Plus TM. Naturally, half the drugs administered will be placebos and the other half the drug itself. This is standard double blind test procedure.

Since you already have a measure of the erratic and irrational of XYZ main office personnel it should be possible to observe any improvement in their behaviour.

Twenty-four (24) hours seems remarkably inadequate a time frame to measure any improvements in behaviour. People can easily "fake" their ability to act rationally sufficiently well over 24 hours to make it appear that the drug is working as expected. Therefore, it is recommended the trial should place over a longer timeframe.

As for the widespread and largescale implementation of administering the rationality booster drug ending wars and hardship, this seems doomed to failure. The people whose decisions lead to wars and inflict hardship on populations do so for the most rational reasons. What you should apply your genius inventing to is an altruism boosting drug to be used in combination of your rationality drug.

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    $\begingroup$ As a bonus, even if you don't get 100% administration with the drug, you can track 100% of ppl who are on it, and exclude 100% of people who are not. By excluding ppl who you know aren't on it, your results will be more accurate than making assumptions about who is and is not actually exposed. This will also give you better tracking of dosages than most non-consensual methods. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Oct 7 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki Precisely. This is basically why I proposed what is a double-blind experiment. It's better science in terms of who was & what doses they received, & the resulting changes to their behaviour. Non-consensual methods have too many variables for a good trial. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 8 at 2:07
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    $\begingroup$ Point of order regarding the efficacy of offering bonuses for upticks in rationality. That would severely bias the outcome of the trial. $\endgroup$ – Persistence Oct 8 at 10:47
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You mentioned that it can be administered through food, water, air or injection but can it be absorbed through touch alone, entering the bloodstream through the skin? In that case you could...

Put it in the cleaning products, so that it ends up on almost every surface in the company.

If it's a software company, just about everyone is going to be fondling their keyboards, phones and various other desktop equipment throughout the day. If you can spread the drug on the keyboard with, say, a spray of liquid meant to clean or sterilise it (maybe you can fake an outbreak of flu so that all equipment needs to be "sterilised"?), then you'd be sure to affect everyone within hours.

It may not even be necessary for the drug to be absorbed through the skin. Once it's on people's hand and fingers, they'll be snacking or scratching themselves or rubbing their eyes all throughout the day, and probably getting a good dose of it that way. But germ-phobic people might wash their hands too often for this to be 100% reliable.

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    $\begingroup$ For the germophobic people you will also fill your drug into soap and disinfectant dispensers in the bathrooms :-) And inflitrating the cleaning crew should be doable for a genius $\endgroup$ – Falco Oct 8 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Falco germophobes might have their own personal stash of disinfectant gel or other, which could cause issues. But yes, installing a new, more potent "soap" to counteract the "flu epidemic" would also increase your chances! $\endgroup$ – Whitehot Oct 9 at 9:18
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You would have a high chance of affecting all SE employees if you mixed a vapor form of the drug into the HVAC system.

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No, you can not

You cannot reach all employees, because always some are on vacation, home with baby, sick, doing homeoffice etc. Even if you drug all Coffee, Food and Water, there will always be someone who brings his own water and food.

Of cause you can reach nearly all employees as mentioned by the other answers.

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    $\begingroup$ Drinks tea and brown bags... $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Oct 7 at 18:22
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Robotic mosquitoes. Assuming you can get the appropriate details on the locations of all employees who are currently working (in the office or from home) your little flying hypodermics can administer the drug.

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Mandatory drug during a specific 24 hour period. If you fail to comply, you no longer have a job with the company.

How hard was that?

For justification, your insurance now requires that you test for drugs not previously tested for. Announce it a week in advance, make sure all employees get the word.

You can even require confirmation of notification and signed understanding of requirements in advance to make sure you have 100% coverage.

Of course, this is completely unethical - but so is the premise.

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A quick and clean solution would be something like:

  • Mix the drug with cleaning products.
  • Tell the cleaning staff to clean the doorknob of the main entrances (including elevator's buttons) every hour during work-time.

Everyone inside the building will touch the doorknobs or someone's else hands already infected with the drug.

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I wonder how no one came up with this. I don’t know how it works on other countries, where I live (Spain), all companies are legally bound to make a health check to their employees. You can administer the drug during the tests with any excuse. With this, you make sure all the employees have taken the drug. It could be happened that some people has a private insurance and they don’t have to do the check in the health center the company chooses. Few people do. But you need to have all possibilities covered. However, if they are a considerable group, you can make their insurance company to make the health check and inject the drug there too. You have their names and you can use them as a control group. With this method you can be sure about who take the drug and who didn’t. In addition, you have their physical information and medical history. You can test if the drug works different in every person and obtain additional information. Hope this help to drug all your coworkers.

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Organise a meeting within the department for some event and hug everyone or do a handshake. Since you are near the person, then it will transmit through air.

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This will depend upon how much influence you have over the powers that be at SE or failing that how much access you have to the building.

If you have a lot of influence, the easiest way would be a mandatory "voluntary" flu vaccine/vitamin shot or during a cross-site drug test - much like the Guatemala syphilis experiment. If you have influence with upper management and/or HR you could implement a policy that refuses paid sick leave if people do not have the flu vaccine/vitamin shot or demand drug tests done via needle-based methods.

If you do not have sway over upper management or HR, but can use your inventorial skills to gain access to the building (and shut down security cameras etc), then do not fear, you can still do some testing, but it may be less somewhat less precise.

  • If it is an air-conditioned sealed building, then fix some air-born drug canisters into the air-conditioning units. Be careful to release the gas slowly over the day, and to remove the containers the following night
  • If it is not, then consider lacing all water fountains, coffee machines and other available beverages with the drug. Some people may drink more than others, but pretty much everyone will at some point take a drink during the day.

If for some reason, however, you are unable to gain access to the building, do not fear there is one final method that may work. First formulate your drug into liquid form that can be absorbed through the skin, similar to LSD. Next think up an offer that all the employees could not possibly turn down (e.g. a pretzel, a free lunch, coffee, ride in a helicopter - the options are endless). Print leaflets with this offer, and if you have the budget get a matching printed t-shirt or wearable sign. Soak the leaflets in the liquid form of the drug, and stand at the entrance handing them out to employees as they enter the building (don't forget to wear gloves yourself) on a warm summer's day.

Good luck with your fictional and non-suspicious mission!

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If the substance you're thinking of is psilocybin, you might adminster it to everyone in an office by claiming the CEO (or VP Human Performance) baked a mushroom pie, and everyone must try it. If you think this might be too difficult to implement (some people hate mushrooms), then how about using some Lysergic Acid Diethylamide? Exquisitely potent at nanogram levels, you could probably put it into the airconditioning ducts for a 'whole-of-business' response. Manage the amounts carefully though: you want to make sure that 'microdosing' (so hot right now in Silicon Valley) doesn't cross the line into 'full-blown bad trip'. Office environments can be problematic given the 'set and setting' requirements defined by T. Leary.

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Now, I do not know the specifics of the environment in which this SE operates, but depending on the type of workspace, different means of administration should be considered.

Our goal is to hit every SE employee and none others - no clients, no visiting partners, no building maintenance staff (I assume they do not own their own building). For this reason, air is not an option. The chances of an accident, though they may be beneficial, should not be overlooked.

Food, water, and injection remain. Water is a poor choice. If municipal tap water is contaminated, the drug will inevitably get stuck in the pipes, get sent to unintended places, and end up in the water supply. If controlled water bottles are used with dispensers, there is the risk that guests may ingest it, and there is also the chance of some members of the company simply drinking coffee or Red Cow or N hour energy instead. As a result, water is not recommended.

Next is food, and injection. An injection is highly problematic as a means of administration. First, getting the entire company injected with a rogue drug will be impossible within the short timeframe - someone may be on PTO, another person may have many allergies to injections, another person may have a religious concern about injections, another may subscribe to a conspiracy surrounding injections, etc. Second, people will almost certainly try to avoid the injection when it is noted. Unless you threaten to suspend their visas/fire them/etc, they will avoid the injection. There is the concern that they may simply leave the company, but then they technically don't need to be injected to meet the requirements of infecting the entire company since they aren't part of the company anymore.

So we're left with food. Choose a vegan, gluten-free option, make it free, and provide ample extras such as happy hour drinks to go along with it in order to entice as many employees to the gathering as possible. Do it on a Friday that doesn't follow a holiday. As long as you've acquired access to the delivery and are in control of the delivery person, your happy hour will result in extra productivity.

Oh, but be aware of how your drug interacts with alcohol first. Best to avoid rationality-induced drunken stupor if side effects have not yet been tested.

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Within the constraints of your question, you can simply round them up at gunpoint and force-feed them whatever you want. It's what software engineers call the KISS principle.

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