Hi, my name is Bea and this is my story. It does get kind of crazy so you may need to hold on for the ride. I go to college at MIT. I’m currently working towards my bachelor’s degree in Computer science. My favorite part of working with computers is the coding portion, there is always something different. I have been studying non-stop to keep my grades the highest they have ever been because there is an insane seminar I want to get into. My friends and I have been studying all day and night trying to make sure we all get into this seminar. If we get into this program we are practically guaranteed jobs at IBM. I’ve dreamed about working for IBM ever since I got into coding. Their CEO is Ginni Rometty, a woman I have looked up to my entire life. I’ve always thought it was amazing how she was the first woman to lead that company. We find out today if we got in!
My friends and I have been consistently checking our emails to see if we got our IBM seminar emails. Although it is one of the most known technology companies, this program is about coding. It is kept very hush hush and only a select group of people are given the opportunity to apply. Without this I have a slim to none chance of getting a job at this company. I’m getting more and more nervous just standing around while waiting. During this time I think abouut a quote by Ginni Rometty “Never love something so much that you can’t let go of it.”I think about this quote often because it reminds me that although nothing will be handed to me in life, if it is meant to be it will be. Finally my friends and I open our emails and see that we got in! We were jumping up and down screaming in the hallway which got us some questionable looks but who cares.
Today is the first day of our seminar, it is a month long with seminars three times a week. We go in and take our seats and wait for the seminar to begin, I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited. As soon as Ginni Rometty walks onto the stage we all erupt in applause. She starts off with just a brief quick explanation of what the company is and what they stand for. As she was talking, her employees handed us NDA waivers. I had assumed we were going to have to sign these because we were going to be taught top secret information about the company’s operations. Most of us were surprised by some of the information she shared with us not realizing all of the operations that take place at IBM. She then starts talking about her personal history with coding and how she got to where she is. Although I was here to learn about coding it was so interesting to me to learn about her history. The next few meetings were similar, just basic information about coding and how it is used at the company which was a little disappointing because we expected a super interesting learning experience.
The second week she begins to talk about how coding can control actions and basically is the instructions for the action. At the time my friends and I thought nothing of this because coding is what causes computers to function. What happened next was so confusing, she brings her assistant on stage and proceeds to insert a wire in his arm and types a code that resembles walking. After the code is finished she removes the wire and her assistant begins to walk around the stage. My friends and I instantly look at each other, our faces are a mix of fear, fascination, and confusion. She continues on not acknowledging what just happened. Rometty and her team acted like what occurred happens all the time. We got nervous because it was almost as if he no longer had any control of his body and was under her complete control. This was towards the end of the class, so as soon as we could we ran out and to the nearest coffee shop. While we were there we ran into a few other kids from the class and we were all talking about what we just witnessed. They told us that they had noticed when they were on the tour of the building that there was an entire wing that they were not allowed in. When they asked about it they were brushed off and not really given a response. We tried to come up with reasonable explanations as to what happened and why the employees at this company were acting so suspicious about that wing of the building. The group we met also told us that when the tour guide went to answer their questions surrounding employees watched her very carefully as if they were monitoring her words. We were going on our tour of the building for the next class so we told them we would pay attention to that wing and see if we could learn any information.
At this week’s class we are getting our tour of the building, I’m nervous because I feel like there’s something strange going on at the company. We walk in and our tour guide starts off with the more basic areas that we kind of already know because of where the seminar is located. She starts bringing us towards the opposite side of the building which is where this hidden wing is located. While on our tour, I was paying attention to her body language and I noticed that as we got closer to that area she got more fidgety and nervous. When we arrived in that area I looked around and saw that other employees were watching her and listening to what she was saying. I couldn’t figure out why they would need to listen to her every word but obviously something was being hidden. The way everyone was acting all I wanted to do was sneak into that wing and figure out what was going on. Somehow I felt that there was something bad going on and being who I am, I had to figure it out. I decided that after this session I was going to ask my friends if they would sneak into the wing with me because we need to figure out if there is something bad happening.
We decided to sneak in on the following Saturday night because that is when there is the least amount of people present in the building. We just needed to come up with a plan as to how we would get into this wing. Finally we decide to wear the stereotypical all black with ski masks and just use the back entrance for employees. We drive there and park a few blocks away and walk to the building. Once we are inside we go over to the mysterious wing and see that there is a keypad outside on the door. We instantly stop in our tracks because how are we supposed to figure out this code. I decided to just try a few different possibilities so that we didn’t waste our time here. I tried four different codes and the last one finally worked. It was so exciting because the chance of getting it right is 1 in 3,333(Oremus 1).The door opened into this giant room filled with computers ranging from desktop size to flatscreen size tvs. We go over to the computers and see if they are logged in. All of them are still on and it appears they are monitoring someone or something of that sort. One of my friends pulls up the control system on one of the computers and then all of a sudden all the tv screens turn on. When the screens turn on we watch as people are being tested almost. The same event that we witnessed on that stage was happening to so many other people at the same time. Many different people were being attached to wires then a code was being typed and then the person went and performed that action. We knew that we needed to get out of there, we quickly took pictures of what we saw and left. No alarms went off and we don’t think the security cameras were able to see any features that would be able to distinguish us. We went back to our rooms and tried to figure out what we were supposed to do.
As we walk into the seminar room we can see a piece of paper on our seats and our hearts sink. I was already contemplating even coming to this seminar after what we had seen but I knew that it would have been suspicious if right after the break in we didn’t show up. I sit down and I read the paper, it says to remain in the room following the end of the seminar. I don’t hear a single word that is said for the remaining time in the seminar. My heart is pounding, my head is racing and I feel like I could pass out at any second.
As we are sitting down with the ceo, I am struggling to read her facial expressions. I think that she is going to yell at us or kick us out of the program. Our entire future is riding on this conversation, but I’m not even sure If I want to work for a company that is doing what they are doing. She starts off simply asking us what it is that we saw and what our concerns were. We told her what we saw when we broke in and how we felt when she did the demonstration on stage. She then explains the experiment that they are conducting. The use of coding is vital in making computers do what we need. Some of her coders wondered if this process could be transferred over to people, by adding specific codes that resemble human actions. These actions consist of walking, talking, cooking etc. We asked if the people being experimented on knew what was happening and she avoided the questions all together.
After what felt like hours we finally left the office and went back to our rooms. As soon as I got back, I asked my friends what we should do from this point on. They all agreed that we should somehow go public with the new information we had learned. I knew we probably should do this but I was nervous about what this would mean for my future. My entire life all I have ever wanted to do was code at IBM. Now I am in this position where I can go and do the right thing or pursue my dream.
After a few days of debating we decided that the right thing to do is leak the information we found about this company. Nervously after we type up the article explaining what we found and how we came across, we post it. We then go and attend some of our classes and when we come back we find that our article has been deleted. We knew instantly that it was IBM that had our article removed. I got extremely nervous about what was going to happen next. I know I did the right thing.
Buckley, Ian, and Ian Buckley (143 Articles Published) Ian Buckley is a freelance journalist.“What Is Coding and How Does It Work?” MakeUseOf, 5 Dec. 2019, www.makeuseof.com/tag/what-is-coding/.
Chakravarti, Deepshikha. “12 Inspiring Quotes From IBM’s Ginni Rometty.” SheThePeople TV, SheThePeople, 25 Mar. 2017, www.shethepeople.tv/news/12-inspiring-quotes-from-ibms-ginni-rometty/.
Oremus, Will. “Why Your PIN Shouldn’t Be Your Birthday or a Year in the Late 1900s.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 19 Sept. 2012, slate.com/technology/2012/09/how-to-choose-a-pin-code-avoid-birth-date-1234-or-8068.html.
“The Truman Show.” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt0120382/plotsummary.