Canon installed AI cameras in Chinese offices

As per the latest news, Canon has installed cameras with AI-enabled “smile recognition” technology in the offices which lets only smiling workers enter rooms or book meetings.

The Financial Times reported about this in an article elaborating on how Chinese companies are putting an effort to keep their employee’s productivity level high with the help of AI and algorithms. However, this is giving rise to questionable tracking systems too. Firms are monitoring computer usage, lunch break times, movements outside the office through AI, algorithms, and mobile apps.

King’s College London academic Nick Srnicek said “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.”

Last year, Canon Information Technology announced its “smile recognition” cameras as part of a suite of workplace management tools. The technology failed to earn attention as it raised a question that how common surveillance tools like this are becoming.

Though Western countries mostly dismiss this kind of surveillance, countries like the US and UK are just as culpable. Perhaps, Amazon is the best example of this dynamic. Amazon is known for squeezing every ounce of effort from its warehouse workers. Amazon even ranks workers in terms of their productivity using algorithms and fires workers who are at the bottom of the scale.

Many modern software suites like Microsoft 365 come with built-in surveillance tools. The pandemic surged use of these suites as more people are working from home and companies are losing control over their workers.

Maria Janulis
Maria is a Florida-based columnist, working in the Journalism industry for the last five and a half years. She spends most of her time interacting with the like-minded group of people on social media.