Camera maker Canon has installed AI-enabled cameras in its offices with “smile recognition" that only let smiling employees in its offices of its Chinese subsidiary Canon Information Technology. The cameras come with “smile recognition" and only lets smiling workers enter rooms or book meetings. This is the company’s rather dystopian way of boosting workplace morale and making sure that all its employees are happy. This was highlight in a Financial Times report that said how Chinese companies are surveilling employees with the help of AI and algorithms.
Canon introduced its “smile recognition" cameras last year as a part of a suite of worlplace management tools, but the technology hasn’t got much attention globally. “We have been wanting to encourage employees to create a positive atmosphere by utilising this system with the smile detection setting on,"a spokesperson for Canon China told Nikkei. According to reports, Canon also monitors which programs employees use while on their computers, in order to optimise productivity. Further, CCTV cameras are used to observe employees during lunch breaks, and even when the workers leave the office, mobile apps track their movements.
The Financial Times report sheds light on how management is being augmented using technology. Amazon, for example, uses algorithms to rank its workers’ productivity before firing those who are at the bottom of the scale. Workers are not being replaced by algorithms and artificial intelligence," Nick Srnicek of King’s College, London told FT. “Instead, the management is being sort of augmented by these technologies," he said.