MEGACORP WALMART has been granted a patent that would allow it to listen to their workers' conversations and potentially use them to rate employee quality.
The 'listening to frontend' microphones are designed so that even the conversations that staff have with customers, as they are paying at the checkout for example, could become quantifiable staff benchmarks.
When we first heard about this one, you can imagine there was a certain amount of swearing and spitting - but this is actually just a patent. It's not saying it will do it, just that it can if it wants.
Walmart issued a statement when asked about this potential shitshow for customers and colleagues alike. It seems to completely miss the spirit of the query, but that's not an entire shock, is it?
"We're always thinking about new concepts and ways that will help us further enhance how we serve customers, but we don't have any further details to share on these patents at this time."
It seems to have confirmed the existence of the patents, mind.
It appears that the plan would be for sensors at the tills to collect beeps, rustles and chat for a holistic idea of what's going out at the checkouts and turn it into performance metrics.
On the surface, it appears that this is an idea with more flaws than a Dubai hotel, and is generally almost as objectionable as Piers Morgan with your Corn Flakes.
The application suggests that this is all about things to ‘increase guest satisfaction' by 'ensuring employees are performing their jobs efficiently and correctly'.
It also means, of course, that all those well-served guests are being spied upon for their continued comfort and convenience. There's even suggestion that speech recognition would be able to react to exactly what you're saying.
We've seen the future. It is creepy. Walmart seems to think this will make its stores better and give it an edge over Amazon which is working towards improving its staff by not having any. μ
Stay one step ahead of the snakes in the grass
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But Branson prefers Newquay
You can read it like an.. well, you know