Canon Information Technology actually announced its “smile recognition” cameras last year as part of a suite of workplace management tools, but the technology doesn’t seem to have gotten much attention. Indeed, the fact it passed under the radar is a good illustration of just how common surveillance tools like this are becoming — and not just in China.
Although readers in the West sometimes have a tendency to dismiss the sort of surveillance described by the FT as a foreign phenomena, countries like the US and UK are just as culpable. […]
Such modern-day Taylorism is not restricted to blue collar jobs, either: many modern software suites like Microsoft 365 come with built-in surveillance tools. And with more people working from home because of the pandemic, more companies are deploying these features for fear of losing control over their workers. (Or, for a slightly more cynical read: they’ve always wanted to use these tools and the pandemic provides a handy pretext.)
One day Excel is going to demand that I flash it a smile that convinces it that I’m genuinely, unquestioningly happy before it agrees to do me the favour of recalculating the figures I’m pointing it to,1 at which point my time on this Earth will be done.
- To think, we used to imagine that the machines would win by pointing a ray gun at us and threatening us with extermination. Those were the days. ↩