Say Cheese: China Office Uses AI to Only Let Smiling Workers Enter Building

facial recognition tech

Camera manufacturer Canon has invented a new way to boost workplace morale — installing AI cameras in its offices that force workers to smile to enter the building.

The Verge reports that Canon has installed cameras with AI-enabled “smile recognition” technology in the offices of its Chinese subsidiary Cannon Information Technology. The cameras only allow smiling workers to enter rooms or book meetings, ensuring that all employees are consistently smiling while at the office.

The feature was noted in a recent report from the Financial Times about how Chinese companies are surveilling employees to a worrying degree using AI and algorithms. Many firms are monitoring which programs employees use on their computers in order to gauge productivity and are using CCTV cameras to measure how long they take on their lunch break. Some companies are even tracking worker movements outside the office using mobile apps.

King’s College London academic Nick Srnicek told the Financial Times: “Workers are not being replaced by algorithms and artificial intelligence. Instead, the management is being sort of augmented by these technologies […] Technologies are increasing the pace for people who work with machines instead of the other way around, just like what happened during the industrial revolution in the 18th century.”

Canon Information Technology announced its “smile recognition” cameras last year as a part of a number of workplace management tools but the technology hasn’t received much attention until now. The fact that the tech seemed to pass under the radar goes to show how common surveillance tools like this are becoming in modern workplaces, including in many areas in the west.

E-commerce giant Amazon employs similar tactics, ranking worker productivity using algorithms and firing those that rank at the bottom of the scale. The company goes to great lengths to improve worker productivity, even providing a small phone booth they can sit inside to take a mental health break, which many have called a “despair closet.”

Read more at the Verge here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address


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