Is Microsoft taking inspiration from Dwight Schrute these days?

It almost seems that way based on a newly surfaced patent application from the Redmond company. The filing describes a computer system that would monitor behavior in the workplace with the goal of stopping bad habits such as co-workers cutting each other off during meetings and bosses bugging their direct reports on their lunch breaks — but at no small cost to workplace privacy.

The idea is to analyze interactions over video conferences, telephone, text messages and other forms of digital communication to look for patterns of behavior that have been defined in advance as negative or positive, and then assign a score to each person based on what the system finds.

How much you wanna bet the government has or will have something like this in public places? A few mics here, a few cameras there, and this kind of software. All to keep us safe, of course.



  1. Big Brother says:

    “I know what you did last summer.”

  2. orchidcup says:

    If we could develop software to monitor corporations and ding them for bad behavior, then we would have something useful.

  3. AdmFubar says:

    You better watch out
    You better not cry
    Better not pout
    I’m telling you why
    the cyber spys are coming to town

  4. We are Microsoft. We write software in the Republican Tradition.

    A. It must be straightforward.
    B. It must serve the Business Good.
    C. Its type must be formed from the minimum number of pixels.
    D. It must punish something. Either the user or the subject.

  5. Gary, the dangerous infidel says:

    Who could possibly be afraid of an software algorithm that objectively analyzes data collected from your behavior and assigns you a Patriotism Score? I would guess that only traitors would fear discovery, and those with nothing to hide would be unconcerned.

    A consumer version might collect data in your home and assign your spouse a Fidelity Score, predicting his or her likelihood to cheat. Hopefully it might also raise a red flag if your children’s behavior patterns started looking similar to that of Lyle and Erik Menendez.

  6. B. Dog says:

    How do you like the surveillance of warehouse workers in Gitmo Nation Deutchland?

    The union also said workers’ hands were constantly scanned electronically and that if they remained inactive twice in five minutes, they received a warning.

    http://thelocal.de/national/20111117-38939.html

  7. Dallas says:

    The New normal. Thanks to 911 and the subsequent response by the Cheney Aministration, it is now generally acceptable to conduct surveillance in both public and private areas.

    It’s time for Univerity Students to rise up

    • msbpodcast says:

      And they are.

      • Dallas says:

        University students are indeed those that rise up with the occasion call for change.

        In contrast, Teapublicans and the usual farts watching Bonanza on TVland sit there and oblivious to eroding freedoms. All they respond to are issues on God, Guns and Gays.

        • deowll says:

          You know something dude. One of your least charming behaviors is that every time a bunch of Democrats does something you don’t like you blame it on the Republicans.

          Of course Republicans in Congress are about as sorry as the Democrat/socialists when it comes to disregarding personal liberties.

        • msbpodcast says:

          Universities have been places of social change by the bourgeoisie since the Roundheads who fought King Charles I. (Why do you think Pol Pot abolished all the schools and put all the teachers in the fields, literally into the soil in many many cases?)

          The young fight.

          The young have always fought.

          That’s because they know that they will always outlive the old.

          Its a question of establishing who’s right right off the bat.

  8. jescott418 says:

    Monitoring software has been around for a while. next story.

  9. Hmeyers2 says:

    The algorithm will be discovered to be biased against some protected group (Turret’s Syndrome, non-native English speakers, Muslims or people from India, something else) and corporate usage will end up being subject to class action lawsuits for discrimination.

    Or worse, likely those with the “worst behavior” may end up being the most productive employees who feel they have more liberties at work due to job performance or the fact they work 60 hours a week when they don’t have to and feel some entitlement to occasionally take break.

    Either way, job performance has a focus on the “performance”. What would this algorithm really be used for that would be productive? Maybe as some minor metric to chastise low performers, but that will happen anyway.

  10. Glenn E. says:

    “How much you wanna bet the government has or will have something like this in public places?”

    What do you wanna bet that this software was developed with government funds? Especially the ever-paranoid Pentagon. Who needs to know who doesn’t love the many wars they’ve mired us in.

    It costs too much to hire humans to evaluate all the live video cameras’ input. So this is Facial Recognition software, taken one step farther. Personal Attitude Recognition software. Are you being positive or negative, and about what policies and edicts? We’ve going to have to learn to smile, while saying something sucks. And couch our verbal objections in double speak and zero day slang, to confuse the big brother software.

  11. DingDongKong says:

    Imagine if all offices monitored what workers are doing on their computers besides working, I bet facebook usage would drop by half during business hours. Oh well, back to work…

  12. Erwin Rommelstiltskin says:

    Are you people suggesting that the United States is becoming, or has already become, the next Hitlerland? Hell, I figured THAT out when our military adopted the Nazi-style helmets. Have you noticed that, ever since, we’ve been invading one country after another? You are what you wear, bub.

  13. orchidcup says:

    Who monitors the software developer to ensure the results are accurate and fair? And then who monitors them?


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