03.10.2022

According to an mit research group for "human design" every verbal communication of employees should also be recorded to increase the efficiency of a company

The evernet, with which everyone is connected to the net everywhere and at all times, certainly has a lot going for it. Some have derived from this the positive utopia of a global brain, a planetary superorganism or a kybiont, in which individuals become individual neurons connected to each other, but also to artificial beings, computers and all smart things. But networking also means less autonomy and increased surveillance and control. One example is the transition from "data mining" to "reality mining", as it was developed by a working group "human design" of the mit media lab is being considered (dt. (translation: data mining in the real world).

Media lab research outlines a future where, mediated by technology as diverse as robotic assistants, artificial skin, and "viral" communications, innovation becomes the domain of all and is guided by human social, expressive, and intellectual activities.

There are research institutions such as mit’s media lab that, for reasons of survival, must constantly try to develop new technologies with new applications. Of course, this also means that sometimes the need must first be created for which technologies are developed. What is not successful is simply eliminated from the market. The media lab, in order to advance innovation even in unusual and surprising ways, demands many things that hardly ever get beyond initial stages of development. But that’s part of the "done". In any case, the media lab has made a point of saying, "improve the quality of life in the digital age" and helping people, "to create their own means of expression". This is laudable, of course, but what helps one is not always supportive of the other, let alone pleasing to him.

Even now, an employee can be monitored better than ever before. With the cell phone always accessible and on a long leash, surveillance cameras are more and more paired with (biometric) access controls, but also with sensors or. Chips to locate where they are staying. On the computer it is possible to control not only which e-mails are sent or received, which websites are visited, but also which programs are used, when and how fast work is done, every keystroke can be recorded and evaluated. The computer user becomes a mouse.

All of this can be analyzed in the form of data mining, which is of course currently very popular for tracking down the suspicious behavior of potential terrorists. As much data as possible is collected, collated and evaluated, which is becoming easier and easier with the progress of digitization and networking, although without the right programs for evaluation, data garbage can also arise. Although the iraqi dictatorship was overrun militarily allegedly for humanitarian reasons, it seems that after the end of the authoritarian states of the eastern bloc, the capitalist market seems to have been strengthened by the new enemy of terrorism to fabricate the very tools of surveillance and control that dictatorships have always liked to have – and probably still like to have, as in the case of china, for example – in order to identify and punish violators (amnesty points to an increase in internet repression in china).

Grid search also in speech

However, the human design research group at the mit media lab has now come up with an idea for a simple way to collect new data to provide information about a company’s employees. Of course, it is all for the good purpose of increasing the efficiency of the company. As "extremely valuable source for team building and knowledge management" the idea was to collect all the linguistic changes of the employees, which could be done, for example, using the microphones of cell phones and pdas, which almost everyone already had anyway.

Catching what is said is important because studies on office behavior have shown, as alex pentland, founder and director of the human design research group, writes, "that up to 80 percent of working time is spent talking, and that crucial information tends to be disseminated verbally". It would be interesting to know in which companies which employees spend only 20 percent of their working time not talking, since the studies certainly do not refer only to call centers and similar institutions. It is probably true that "crucial information" spread, so to speak, from mouth to mouth, also in the form of gossip and rumors.

To monitor who is doing what and who is talking what to whom. This is how profiles of individuals, groups and social relationships can be created

The new reality mining allows the creation of profiles that are fed from conversations, e-mails, movement data and web usage.

Only from the point of view of better organization of the "human capital" pentland then formulates grid search ideas that confirm all gloomy forebodings of the brave new world of all-round surveillance:

Knowledge management could also be advanced by capturing personal information. This would be possible, for example, through wearable and non-disruptive sensors that record things like tone of voice or body language. The result shows managers who works with whom and how the relationships between colleagues are. A database of worker profiles then quickly shows changes in behavior in email and voice communications.

For pentland, the data could be used to simulate social networks, for example, to predict what would happen if two groups were to merge. So, if, as dear to lay out, streamlining is done, the problem individuals can already be picked out to produce a more efficient team building: reality mining thus as social engineering.

This surveillance leads rather to rigidity than to a targeted increase in efficiency

Very briefly, pentland even mentions that in the process "but also the private" must ensure. The employees should "always keep control of their data", how this should be done, if the management wants to use this very data, will probably remain its secret. His solution is possibly to suggest that. That also "manager’s interactions will be part of the system" must: "if an employee can get to the bottom of his boss’s behavior, he will have fewer problems disclosing his own behavior." this may be possible in a small research group, which gets along largely without hierarchy, but it is to be understood generally as naivety, realistically rather as a calming tactic in view of the internal secret service. Zumindest musste neben der gleichen transparenz auch die gleichberechtigung stehen. But that would be going too far for portland, who probably wants to sell his future system not to individual employees, but to companies.

Perhaps, however, alex pentland and the human design research group should also ask themselves whether unlimited surveillance, as dictatorships have always liked to have it, is in fact a good idea "the functioning of an organization" decisively improved (historical examples rather suggest the opposite, i.E. That over-monitoring leads to solidification). Increased surveillance is likely to breed secrecy, dishonesty, stage-playing, and simulation of what is expected to go over well, to a much greater extent than in existing organizational structures, and to reduce personal communication and understanding to a large extent – unless the big brother generation sees transparency as an opportunity to draw the rough straw through forced attention.

What pentland and his colleagues probably want to record, the spontaneous group talk that is not always aimed at evaluation, is the following "below", life beyond the public eye and the observation of the bosses, will soon be extinguished and thus the surveillance will prove counterproductive, at least if it does not take place in the prison yard. In spite of all the technical difficulties that still exist, the planned "reality mining" if we are to be able to actually implement such technologies, they are easier to develop – and perhaps also to sell – than models of creative groups of free individuals who want to achieve something. Thus, the propagation of advanced technologies simultaneously becomes that of truly reactionary structures

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