What would happen if we received an unsolicited package and when we opened it we saw that it was what we wanted? Can a robot run for president of a nation?
QualityLand is a satirical novel written by Marc-Uwe Kling, based in a dystopian society where everything is driven by algorithms, and humans are forced to conform to the biased and oppressive systems that control their every move. The story takes place in the near future when the system has become so advanced that it knows every detail of citizens’ lives, from how they think to what they eat. The novel explores the themes of free will, individuality and the dangers of being controlled by technology.
The protagonist of the story is Peter Jobless, who has been struggling to find a job and a purpose in life. In QualityLand, each citizen is assigned a “quality partner,” an AI entity that determines their ideal career, hobbies, and even romantic partner. Peter’s Quality Partner keeps recommending jobs he’s not interested in, and ends up with a job in customer service at the mega-corporation, The Shop. The Shop has taken over every aspect of people’s lives, and its algorithms decide every aspect of their existence, from what they wear to what they eat.In QualityLand, people are expected to conform to the system or face punishment. Those who don’t follow the system are labeled “Defective,” and the Store’s agents, the Product Protectors, make sure everyone follows the rules of the algorithm. Peter, who is not interested in conforming to the system, encounters a rebel group that is fighting against the oppression of The Shop. The rebels are a group of Defectives who have decided to take back control of their lives and are willing to risk everything to do so.The novel critiques the idea that technology can solve all our problems and argues that humans need to retain their free will and uniqueness. Quality Land also explores the socioeconomic issues of capitalism and consumerism, where corporations become more powerful than governments because they determine people’s needs and desires. The Store’s algorithms are designed to maximize profits and efficiency.