Every aspect of computer users’ lives — from their heartbeat to a guilty smile — could be monitored and immediately analysed under the futuristic system detailed in Microsoft’s patent application.
Details of the planned “Big Brother” system are revealed in an application to the US Patent and Trademark Office, seen by The Times, over seventeen pages of text with ten diagrams.
The systems work not only through desktop or laptop computers but even through mobile phones or handheld PCs, meaning that even out of the office the employee can still be monitored. In its most advanced format, the system will monitor users’ private interests.
The system works by recording and analysing what words and numbers are used or websites visited, and by watching the user’s heart rate, breathing, body temperature, facial expressions and blood pressure. The patent application explains: “The system can also automatically detect frustrations or stress in the user via physiological and environmental sensors and then offer or provide some assistance accordingly.”
There is a recognition that humans can have significant differences so all users will be given a “baseline” for normal physiological readings based on their body type and personality in recognition that these could affect their physical or emotional responses.
The patent gives the example of “an elevated heart rate during a tax return preparation may be considered normal for one user and not an indication that help is needed, but for another user, the inverse may be true”.
Every response will be analysed in “real time” to allow the computer to decide what action should be taken.
The patent application says: “From this data, statistics related to performance, success rate, frequency of problem, and the like, can be provided to users or can be employed to gauge a target user’s success, performance, or efficiency with respect to other users.”
The rest of the article doesn't get better. Tech is always subject to slippery slopes. Let's think TECHNO through big time before we roll. Or at the least, you know, start talking about it.