Not even good for capitalism?

Shock horror!

Amazon has patented a way of tracking hand movement to monitor their workers’ performance. Nothing Amazon do should shock; they’re a corporation fighting for dominance in a capitalist world.

Maybe they are planning on tracking movement, comparing it against the efficiency algorithms and punishing the transgressors. Wouldn’t that be a shot in the foot though? It presumes that the optimum movement has been found and precludes those clever inventive humans from improving what they do. That can’t be good for leading edge capitalism, can it?

Or maybe they’re going to use the workers movements to train the machine learning robots of the future.

Whichever it is, it sends an unpleasant tingle down my spine.


photo credit: corno.fulgur75 13e Biennale de Lyon: La Vie Moderne 2015 via photopin (license)

2 responses on “Not even good for capitalism?

  1. Caroline Dudley

    There was a special report on workplace AI in The Economist last week that might interest you. It read like one of our near-future ‘horror’ stories, but in real companies, right now… There were employees who had their movements and interactions recorded and analysed, ‘morale monitors’, and facial cue algorithm-based recruitment. Here’s a link to one of the articles:
    https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21739426-ai-will-make-workplaces-more-efficient-saferand-much-creepier-there-will-be-little
    Terrifying stuff!

    1. Stephen Oram Post author

      It’s hard to know where to start with what’s terrifying about that article… what struck me most was the reliance on ‘algorithms’ to work out what’s happening with people. The lack of trust and human emotional intelligence that implies is scary. As you say, reminiscent of some of our near-future ‘horror’ stories, but happening now. Which just goes to show how important it is to continue to write stuff that warns about technology as well as celebrate it.

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