Reaching a Decision

Reaching a decision isn’t easy.  After Yang leaves the room, our phones collectively ding! And we all see that we’ve received further information on our devices.  I quickly read through the material. 

The highlights:

  • If I decide to participate, for nine months of work, I’d be paid 300,000 US dollars in biweekly installments.  The job would begin immediately.  Even after taxes, that’d be a cool ~$200,000 or so.
  • All lodging, food, and transportation expenses during my stint, both inside and outside of China would be provided and paid for.
  • Our team would be headquartered out of Jinshui.  In the event we did need to travel outside of the compound, additional security personnel to escort and transport us safely would be provided.
  • I’d have to sign an NDA guaranteeing that I’d never share any details of whatever work I did inside of Jinshui with outside third-parties, including the American government.  Any material (code or otherwise) that I developed during my employment would be solely owned by Jinshui Future Laboratory.  I’d forfeit all claim to anything I helped create during my tenure with JFL.
  • I have until midnight, tomorrow, to provide my answer.  I submit my response (surprise, surprise) via my phone and biometric thumbprint scanner that’s on my device.

Well, the money is certainly excellent– prorated, it’s solidly above what I normally make from my usual consulting gigs.  And it’s intriguing to me that they’re expecting the nature of our work to possibly take us outside of China.  But honestly, with a job like this, the crux (for me, at least) really boils down to a question of conscience.  While the promise of $200k is alluring, I’ve already made enough at this point (and tucked enough away in savings) that I was comfortable.  Certainly not rich.  And I couldn’t retire anytime soon.  But I didn’t need $200k.  This was a sum of money that I’d, monetarily at least, be perfectly fine walking right away from.  (Albeit, sad about.)

So let’s get real– there’s really only one question here:  Do I want to help the Chinese Community Party curb stomp human rights and suplex democracy in China by maybe a half-century or more? Or do I walk away from not just the money, but also maybe the most fascinating data science and social experiment that I’ll probably ever be offered?

“Admit it, you’re intrigued.”

I look up and see Shu standing in front of me. Somehow, she’d approached our bar unnoticed while we’d had our heads down, reading through the documents.


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