It’s only a matter of time. When it comes to the workplace, and I’m really ashamed to say this, profits matter more than people. Quality control is, of course, an essential part of profit making, so monitoring workers with cameras and microphones only makes sense. Well, it doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s undoubtedly where we’re heading. I’m sure tens of thousands of establishments around the world are already watching their workforce as I type this.
In fact, it will probably be more effective to get a worker to sign an agreement that he will be monitored by camera before he actually starts working. From the very beginning he will have that feeling that he is constantly being watched and presumably that will result in higher productivity. Microphones will cut out those nasty coffee breaks spent bitching about the managers as well, and should in theory undermine the workers’ sense of solidarity.
Actually though, workers just might get used to being monitored by cameras and microphones and fairly quickly return to their usual habits. They’ll learn quickly too the cameras’ blind spots and gossiping and plots will continue- just in whispers. Humans are very adaptive in that sense.
And realistically, just who is going to sit through hours upon hours of video of dozens of workers at their workstations? Some software company will have to come up with a program that does the monitoring for you. It can programmed to look for anything out of the unusual and to amplify those whispers into audible speech, although it would still have to perform the task of interpreting that speech through recognition technology. We’re far off from that sort of program becoming common.
Maybe we need Robo Boss. That would increase productivity in a hurry! I just wish that it was possible now.