Forget robots, AI supervisors are working to automate humans

A handful of US companies are using AI-software to monitor human performance to increase optimization in the future.


October 15, 2019

Roll credits. The days of Ferris Bueller-ing your supervisor into thinking you’re a workhorse while you chain smoke out back are coming to a close. 

As robots continue to lack certain skills to perform worker bee tasks, Axios reports that companies are optimizing human workforces of the future with increasingly cheaper AI employee-monitoring systems.

In other words, instead of AI learning from its failures to improve its own output, machines are monitoring human employees to improve their productivity — and the narc-bots are keeping tabs on everything from assembly line efficiency to bathroom breaks.

“The most programmable machine on the planet today is still the human.” — Prasad Akella

This harrowing claim was made by the CEO of the Silicon Valley-based Drishti, a developer of video-based human-employee tracking software that records the seconds it takes for workers to complete each step of their job.

According to Akella, the videos allow supervisors to quickly diagnose a problem so they can teach workers how to avoid errors. Of course, not everyone loves the idea of management jobs being outsourced to an algorithm programmed to turn employees into productivity machines.

“What workers are seeing, and have a fear of, is arbitrarily speeding up workplaces,” said Aiha Nguyen of research organization Data & Society.

Robots and humans, living together 

That’s what many companies have preached to curb the worry of work-bots taking over the workforce entirely. These robo-monitoring systems take this pro-human sheen up a notch. 

Drishti touts its software as a way to make workplaces safer and to better recognize positive work. But it doesn’t take an infallible android to see how treating humans like machines could easily turn inhumane.

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