I recently had a dream where I was consulting for a large technology company. Sometimes our dreams speak with a voice that can touch us in places that rational, linear thought cannot. Maybe you’ll find some resonant tones whispering behind the clear images in the following, vivid dream…

They had hired me to troubleshoot a strange problem they were having where sometimes things just didn’t seem to go right—and sometimes things went wrong at the last minute—making them very difficult to correct. They weren’t sure exactly what the problem was and wanted me to find out.

The plan was that I would watch the employees in action, follow them through their daily routines and projects, and report when I found something that seemed problematic or troubling somehow. It was a bit vague but the money was good and it seemed like it would be an engaging challenge.

The building and the facilities were beautiful—elegant and modern, yet richly comfortable. They were obviously a very large and successful corporation. There were ‘get-away’ rooms on the upper two floors with balconies and marvelous views of the city where some of the top-ranking executives could typically be found after normal business hours, with plenty of drinks to go around for anyone lucky enough to make an appearance there. The views of the city after dark were gorgeous as the cover of night stealthily hid any visible blemishes.

I started observing for a few days and there was something odd about the place. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something seemed strange. Everyone seemed very professional, very intently focused on the task at hand, very willing to answer all my questions candidly and thoroughly, and things seemed to be running very smoothly. Still, my sense that something was peculiar did not diminish, so I kept asking, learning and investigating.

Then suddenly on the third day there was an accident—a somewhat bizarre accident. Someone was badly injured in a way that immediately made it evident that this person was an automated machine of some sort, not a real human being. This was an artificial person.

In the instant I realized what had happened, I immediately knew who the six real human beings in the company were, and that everyone else was manufactured. This company’s expertise was in fabricating employees—artificial people who seemed able to mimic real people in all the important ways it mattered to run a company with them.

This explained what I kept finding so odd… No distractions, no banter, no jokes and jibes as people worked together. Everyone seemed like they were aspiring to be perfect employees. I had assumed that maybe it was because of the exceptionally high salaries this company was able to offer them and an inspiration to excel, and I brushed it off as best I could. No. That wasn’t it.

Now the top six, the real people who had hired me, had to deal with the press. Apparently, manufacturing your own employees was not very socially acceptable, so they were consumed with spinning the story to cover up the truth.

I was left to reflect on the situation at an empty table on one of the upper floors, realizing my consulting contract prevented me from saying anything about this to anyone. Besides, I mused, they could rub me out in a second if they wanted to…

And then I woke up. Yet the dream stayed with me, quietly lobbing curve-balls at my sense of normalcy and rightness in the world…