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Virtual Boss Keeps Workers On a Short Leash 664

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.
Gr8Apes writes "Hitachi has created a 'perfect virtual boss.' The company is manufacturing and selling a device intended to increase efficiency in the workplace called the Hitachi Business Microscope (paywalled). 'The device looks like an employee ID badge that most companies issue. Workers are instructed to wear it in the office. Embedded inside each badge, according to Hitachi, are "infrared sensors, an accelerometer, a microphone sensor and a wireless communication device." Hitachi says that the badges record and transmit to management "who talks to whom, how often, where and how energetically." It tracks everything. If you get up to walk around the office a lot, the badge sends information to management about how often you do it, and where you go. If you stop to talk with people throughout the day, the badge transmits who you're talking to (by reading your co-workers' badges), and for how long. Do you contribute at meetings, or just sit there? Either way, the badge tells your bosses.'"
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Virtual Boss Keeps Workers On a Short Leash

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  • Manna (Score:5, Informative)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Monday February 03, 2014 @01:04PM (#46141675)

    It seems like more people should take a read of Marshall Brain's Manna [wikipedia.org], a book about this very thing. (Online version [marshallbrain.com]).

    It goes into what could happen (and given current economics, the rest of us are housed in tiny apartments to keep the away from the owners). And yet, it also details an alternative view where automation is NOT shunned, but instead used to fulfill what people originally dreamed them to do - do all the chores while the humans relax, or speculate, or invent, or do other things.

    Quite an informative read if you have a couple of hours.

  • Alternately... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Monday February 03, 2014 @01:54PM (#46142303) Homepage

    The virtual boss will see - contrary to what the eyes of the real bosses tell them - employees who never get up from their desks, never go to the bathroom, and never hang around in the break room... because those badges are left behind on the desk all the time whenever the employees get up from their desks, go to the bathroom, and hang around the break room.

    Because employees will quickly learn to "game" the system, rendering the whole thing useless.

    Hell, most of the time those badges aren't even necessary to get into the office, since somebody inevitably will open the door [pacifict.com] for you. And inevitably the employees are going to discover that their badges are ratting them out.

    Not that any of this matters. This is just another way for managers to collect "metrics" on their staff, to prove with the magic of numbers that their staff is working, rather than - oh, I don't know - looking to see if the work is actually getting done. But the latter would actually require the managers to understand what their reports are doing, and that requires knowledge and effort on their part. Better to just rely on computers to create a useless spreadsheet that they can point to during the yearly reviews.

  • Re:Misunderstood? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Monday February 03, 2014 @02:05PM (#46142427) Homepage

    I don't know what world you live in where Japan has a healthy work culture. [carolinepover.info] Abuse of psychology for net harm of workers is considered normal.

    Several points:
    1 - These studies usually look at general office workers, like public service or marketing departments, where there is no real way to gauge competence. So people think they need to put on the APPEARANCE of working 12 hour days to advance.
    2 - These workers also SLEEP at their desks. That's right. It's not about actually doing productive work. Many young Japanese workers stay up all night, catch a few winks on the train, and a nap or two at work.
    3 - People often take 2 hour lunch breaks to do shopping or whatever. It's all about arriving before the boss, and leaving after him.
    4 - Respectable tech jobs are no better or worse than they are in the US. People generally work overtime when needed, but at enjoyable work.

    This is the same as the statistics that said that Japanese live ridiculously long. It turns out that the general practice is to lie about age of death to get more government money. There's what people tell you, and reality, and they can be very different.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday February 03, 2014 @04:52PM (#46144133)

    Tyranny by government dictators: Bad.
    Tyranny by corporate dictators: Good.

    Any questions?

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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