Camera maker Canon in its attempt to solve work problem and enhance morale has decided to install an AI-enabled “smile recognition” technology in its offices in China.
The system will not allow in employees who fail to smile. The dystopian system will only let smiling workers enter into rooms, book meetings and so forth.
China which is often called the headquarters of surveillance of the world is home to several corporate organizations that are known to notoriously survey their workers using AI and algorithms.
The micromanaging is so intense in the country that these companies are able to monitor what programs employees use on their computers and they also use CCTV cameras to measure how long employees take on their lunch break and even tracking their movements outside the office using mobile apps.
That is how terrible these companies are. The report was first made public by the Financial Times. In one of their report, Nick Srnicek of King’s College London told the FT “Workers are not being replaced by algorithms and artificial intelligence. Instead, the management is being sort of augmented by these technologies […] Technologies are increasing the pace for people who work with machines instead of the other way around, just like what happened during the industrial revolution in the 18th century.”
Whether that is a good or bad news for people who work at corporate organizations in China is yet unknown.
Canon announced the so-called smile recognition cameras back in 2020 as part of a suite of workplace management tools however nobody seems to care about the invention.
Surveillance systems specifically built to target employees are becoming prevalent in and outside of China and Amazon in the United States have been accused of such practices which has led to multiple demonstration by its workers due to unfair treatment.
Even popular office tools such as the Microsoft 365 comes with in-built surveillance tools which can be triggered by the organization centrally.
The fear of losing control over employees has caused many companies to use several methods in order to monitor the productivities of their employees.
In other words: AI-enabled smile recognition cameras are in many ways the least dangerous types of surveillance technology but it might just turn workers to zombies who have to often smile regardless of their mental state just to get into a room.
Smiling according to therapists is good for your mental state but over surveillance is just a terrible practice.