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The workplace that watches you, for better and/or worse

A sizable chunk of Microsoft‘s Build keynote this morning was devoted to demos and video scenes involving the use of cameras and sensors to monitor what goes on in workplaces, and cloud-based AI to interpret it. The scenes Microsoft depicted involved admirable pursuits such as workplace safety and patient health. But as my colleague Mark … Continue reading “The workplace that watches you, for better and/or worse”

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A sizable chunk of Microsoft‘s Build keynote this morning was devoted to demos and video scenes involving the use of cameras and sensors to monitor what goes on in workplaces, and cloud-based AI to interpret it. The scenes Microsoft depicted involved admirable pursuits such as workplace safety and patient health. But as my colleague Mark Sullivan points out, it’s hard not to wonder about the same tech being used to keep tabs on workers for less virtuous reasons.

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In 1936, Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times depicted a high-tech factory run by a boss who used cameras to monitor his employees and screens to bark at them if they slacked off. Worst case scenario, the technologies Microsoft showed could be Chaplin’s nightmare scenario, automated: 

About the author

Harry McCracken is the technology editor for Fast Company, based in San Francisco. In past lives, he was editor at large for Time magazine, founder and editor of Technologizer, and editor of PC World.

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