Big Brother is truly watching you. Science has been discovered that will read your thoughts with technology- and while it certainly has its positives, the negatives are overwhelmingly catastrophic. After all, just think about any office setting. Your thoughts might wander- for you are human. So if your boss were to have the technology to project the image that you were thinking about- that would be an immense violation of privacy, wouldn’t it? Surprisingly enough, Nita A. Farahany Robinson, the Professor of Law and Philosophy at Duke University, got on stage at the meeting of the World Economic Forum to discuss this technology on its merits- which there aren’t many.
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Professor Robinson was part of a panel that talked about ‘brain transparency’ and discussed technologies that would have the capability of tracking emotions, reading minds, and creating images out of thoughts and then displaying them on a screen. The panel at the World Economic Forum believes that this technology could ‘revolutionize productivity in the workplace’. It would also save the companies both time and money by simply waking up workers who were getting distracted or were taking breaks for far too long. To be honest, that couldn’t possibly be the best use of technology such as this. The WEF also argued that the world would be a far ‘safer place’ with the use of technology as it will prevent truck drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. But isn’t that a very specific event that probably doesn’t need such invasive technology?
Any Science That Reads Your Thoughts With Technology Is A Disaster Waiting To Happen
If you seem hesitant about using applications that can read your thoughts with technology, you have good intuition. The chances of this technology being used for unjust measures are far too high. Any ruthless billionaire can use this technology to create an aura of fear in the workplace, which would denigrate the employees as mindless drones who are forever languishing in their cubicles. And even if this technology did make things safer, if we can’t even have possession over our thoughts- what do we have then? One such example of this technology can be seen in the Japanese Anime, Psycho-Pass- where people are arrested based on the chance that they could commit a crime. If this were to be a reality, who would want to surrender their thoughts to a third party, knowing that they would forever be on surveillance?
At the Davos meeting of the WEF, Professor Farahany mentioned that the technology had already started getting deployed in multiple businesses around the world. The technology involved a bunch of wearable sensors that would track the electrical impulses of the brain and also show how tired one is. The sensor could also monitor if one was committed to their job, or if their attention was fluctuating. Farahany further stated that several companies had hooked their workers- which ranged from miners to train drivers up to these devices already- which they had termed as a workplace safety protocol. But in reality, this is the topic of subjugation of individual privacy in the workplace.
1984 In A Modern Setting- Complete and Utter Subjugation
Farahany sounded quite enthused when she painted a picture of an office workplace where every single worker was fitted with a sensor that would constantly track the activity in their brain, and also maintain a record of it. This was later to be perused by the boss during their leisurely hours, and it wouldn’t just be enough to look like one is working hard. Rather, the brainwaves would reveal if one was slacking off. Interestingly, Farahany did acknowledge that this application which reads your thoughts with technology could turn oppressive if created poorly. But she still sounds optimistic about the possibilities and the ensuing promises that this technology could bring.
She was quite sanctimonious in her statement that although the office employees hated their current activity tracker because they felt cooped up, even though it also increased the efficiency of the workplace. Farahany also put up a bunch of slides where nine out of ten employees decreed that office workers wasted time every day and that this sensor would be a ‘good reason’ for people to start paying attention to their work. This does look like the sort of opinion that people who constantly fly to Switzerland for meetings would have, rather than someone who works a 9 to 9 job at a gas station.
One Has To Be Truly Naive To Be Optimistic and Altruistic About Private Corporations
One could assume that the professor from Duke University has the best interests in her heart, but she might have been gullible enough to believe that private corporations would not utilize this technology to safeguard their selfish interests. In fact, she went on to argue that an employee should accept overt surveillance for it would ‘improve their own quality of work’ and life, and as long as we made a choice to use this technology in an ‘altruistic way’, it would not only keep our personal liberty intact, but it would also make workers and businesses alike into a cybernetic, connected, measured mechanisms. At the end of the day, it again points towards transhumanism and seeking to harness as much biopower as possible.
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This sense of optimism that Farahany displayed at the WEF meeting may be a bit too naive. One doesn’t need to look towards the future to see that there are far too few chances of this technology not ruining countless lives. Multiple, adjacent forms of Bossware are already available in the market today. Although they are far less flashy, they are equally invasive. They monitor what a worker types, what a worker looks at, how far along he is at his work, how he drives when he is away from his keyboard, where he stops, where he brakes, the route he takes, and every other aspect of their professional life. A database also discovered that there were around 550 products that were already in use in multiple workplaces around the world.
As far as the eye can see, workers are pushed into a 1984 (the novel by George Orwell) setting, with every single movement being tracked, and dissected. Sometimes they are scored, and sometimes they are penalized by the software, the human supervisors, and AI. And all this is done to wring out the last possible cent’s worth of productivity out of a human being. The biggest question with this technology is if an enormous company gets its hands on so much data and control about how workers live every aspect of their work life, will they ever think about ceding the control back to the worker?