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I'm trying to track down a short work of speculative fiction written in the past ~10 years that I downloaded in PDF form from somewhere ~2 years ago.

In the not-too-distant future, AI automations have led to humans being forced to work very menial jobs as a sort of UBI (Universal Basic Income). eg, one of the protagonist's close friends bakes lascivious cakes to weirdly precise details for his mysterious patron. The main character trails the patron's taxi to the edge of town, where the robot dumps the cake in a dumpster and drives off. The end.

I thought it was by Greg Egan, but it's none of his short stories I can find from the past ~15 years.

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  • Are you sure "lascivious" is the word you wanted, and not e.g. "luscious"? And WTF is an "UBI"? – user14111 Jan 30 at 7:10
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    I can confirm that cakes are lascivious as I have been seduced by them on multiple occasions. – John Rennie Jan 30 at 9:04
  • @user14111 - UBI is "Universal Basic Income", where you get government money with no (or very few) strings attached. – Valorum Jan 30 at 9:50
  • Yes, the cake was lascivious, but it may also have been luscious--why not both? Thanks for the edit clarifying what universal basic income is. – Eric L. Feb 1 at 3:59
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It's not a perfect fit, but it does resemble a plot point from Greg Egan's short story "The Discrete Charm of the Turing Machine", first published in Asimov's Science Fiction in 2017. In the future AIs have discovered how to skill-clone workers, so that humans are not needed, or desired (as they are more expensive), to work at high-level positions. One of the protagonist's friends, Graham, makes a living by writing bespoke erotic fiction for a client, one story a month. As well as having the story being bound and printed, he also has to 3D print a sex-scene from the book in ice-cream to go on top of a cake. I guess that if there is such a thing as a "lascivious cake", this would be it.

I don't think the cakes ended up in a dumpster though.

EDIT: Thanks to Hypnosifl it seems that my memory is in error, and that the cakes did indeed end up in the dumpster, making this short story an excellent fit to the question.

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    The cake does end up in a dumpster: "The van stopped beside a dumpster. The lid was propped up, angled low enough to keep out the elements but still leaving an opening at the side so large that all but the most uncoordinated members of the public who lobbed their trash in as they drove past would stand a good chance of succeeding. The hatch opened at the side of the van, and Graham’s pristine white box emerged, riding on a gleaming stainless steel plate. When the platform was fully extended the box sat motionless, and Dan clung for a moment to a vision of the rightful recipient, – Hypnosifl Jan 30 at 18:17
  • appearing from nowhere in a designer hoodie to snatch up their prized fetish-dessert and dash from the carpark to a limousine waiting on the street. Perhaps a whole convoy of limousines, with decoys to render pursuit impossible. But then some hidden mechanism gave the box a push and it toppled in to join the chicken bones and greasy napkins." – Hypnosifl Jan 30 at 18:17
  • @Hypnosifl That's a scene that completely escaped my memory. Thanks, that means "The Discrete Charm...." is a perfect fit. – Clara Diaz Sanchez Jan 30 at 18:23
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    I guess only a Butlerian Jihad will make this ending un-reality (unless civilization crashes earlier; at this point it can go either way). Hmmm.. Greg Egan's collection "Instantiation" with that story is still sitting on my shelf. Too busy. – David Tonhofer Jan 30 at 18:28
  • Hmm. I'd muchly prefer to live in this world than with Williamson's Humanoids. And BTW, I'm with Cypher on this: Ignorance Is Bliss. – davidbak Jan 30 at 21:34

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