Evil cyborgs, formerly humans, called the Overseers have set about building gargantuan megafactory arcologies that sprawl across the landscape. In order to keep the massive tangles of pipes and machinery that keep their strange pod-cradle exoskeletons alive & functioning, the Overseers require a workforce.

They decide that humans who are pretty good at climbing around and have clever hands and brains would be a good choice. But there is a pesky issue to be dealt with: consciousness.

The Overseers want to devise the most effective way to control the human workers, with minimal effort and maintenance on their part. Simple slavery will not work because the work is dangerous and the population to hard to control. Some sort of implant or biological engineering may be required.

The solution to the Overseers' problem must. . .

  • Be relatively cheap, cost effective & easy to implement on a large scale
  • Leave the resulting workforce with sufficient dexterity and intelligence to do fairly complicated tasks like operate machinery
  • Leave the Overseers with the ability to direct & order the workforce around and in general assign tasks
  • Be within the limits of modern to near future technology & science; that is, no "magic nanotech"

Essentially the Overseers want autonomous fix it and repair drones but lack the tech and resources to use actually robots. And they would prefer to use humans because humans are more clever and nimble and can fit into smaller spaces. However they want absolutely no chance of rebellion, so any solution in which the workforce is still human enough to rebel wont work.

Basically "how to create/control a post human worker drone derived from a baseline human stock

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    $\begingroup$ Would the modern system of debt-slavery be acceptable? It seems to work depressingly well. Get education to get job, borrow massively to get education, work frantically to pay off debt. Easy, no mind control implants needed. You can even get people to applaud the system, with a bit of clever marketing and PR! $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ Please add a little more explanation: Why is the population too hard to control? How difficult and dangerous is the work compared to current jobs? Have the overseers monitored human history or the current state of things? If not then why not? $\endgroup$
    – kleer001
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ The overseers want zip chances of rebellion, they essentially want autonomus work robots but lack the tech and resources to do so, plus said robots are too bulky/not as clever and nimble as humans $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ If they lack the tech to have robots do the job, they probably lack the tech for mind control. Would you accept an "authoritarianism + cut out their tongues" kind of answer? @TheImperial $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ Any sort of nanotech and/or neuron-solid-state interface tech should be able to take care of this problem. For extra creepiness, implant it in the spinal underneath the brain, and they're able to completely control their behavior but without any brainwashing... victims remain completely conscious and aware of what their bodies are doing, can even speak and move their face however they like. Those use different nerves (it's why quadraplegics remain able to communicate)..It just acts like a firewall and blocks disallowed physical actions/behaviors. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 18:22

2 Answers 2


Combine the following:


Introduce the humans to the shiny. Lots of shiny. Shiny costs big bucks, but we will let you pay it off.


The humans with the most shiny get things other humans don't. The humans get more shiny and go deeper into debt


humans who do better fixes get more shiny.

Divide and conquer

Tell some humans they are not as good as other humans . Give some more shiney than other humans . They will fight each other and not you. The more different humans types you can make them think they are, more easy you control. Divide them up by as many things as you can.

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Color
  • Creed
  • Urban
  • Rural
  • Etc

The more division you can create, the easier it will be to control. Punish entire groups for the misdeeds of one. Get them to punish each other. Turn each group of slaves into masters of other groups. Sew distrust and hatred among them as much as possible, then be the arbiter of justice so that the only ones they trust is you.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a little too real.... $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, yes. Take a page straight out of American politics. I'd add promise of power to your list: 1 person every year will either join ranks of Overseers (if it is desirable or can be marketed as desirable) or join an "advisory council" with tremendous personal power (as long as they don't do anything to oppose Overseers). $\endgroup$
    – M i ech
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Miech Roman, politics, actually. This idea is older than Feudalism. $\endgroup$
    – user20762
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ The downside to heavy debt is that it can reach a tipping point that could create an uprising. Same with Envy. This doesn't sound too far from the conditions that started the Russian Revolution, or the French Revolution for that matter. You'd have to make sure that Maslow's Heirarch of needs is met past a certain point to damp those effects down. $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @RichardU that would be a great way to build tension in the plot. $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 18:18

Drugs. Not necessarily mind altering kinds, but highly addictive drugs.

These could be tailored chemicals or what have you, but they should be tailored to do the following:

Only release Dopamine while doing a sanctioned activity!

Introduce these during early childhood. Dopamine triggering activities would include learning about their future job, going to and from sanctioned recreation, going to work, etc. Have the daily trip to the doctor include a massive dopamine hit, and then allow more of the drug delivered.

In the case of bad activity, all dopamine gets blocked from the system.

I'm no Psychiatrist but I remember reading that Dopamine is the precursor to all addictions. By controlling the where and when the brain can take up dopamine, you can literally make the populace addicted to working.

The delivery system of the Dopamine drug could be a place to play with. Maybe you have two, one that allows a dopamine hit in response to certain triggers that only happen at work. A punishment could be a total dopamine blocker for a week, making the worker frantic to improve in order to get the hit.

In addition, If you could also work on a hibernation angle, you could have Widget Twiddler first class B0B working. You have two more widget twiddlers on ice. B0B's performance falls off, or he starts behaving in un-sanctioned ways, they stop all dopamine, maybe introduce a poison and kill B0B. Then you thaw out B1B and he goes to work. You have no delay in services and the defective or worn out B0B is out of the way.

  • $\begingroup$ Or, since gnarly H.R.Giger style implants is what is called for, an implant in the pleasure center like Niven's tasp. larryniven.fandom.com/wiki/Tasp $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Willk I was thinking more like a matrix style port in the back of the head. But a Giger monstrosity works too. $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 16:07

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