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China Businesses

China is Now Monitoring Employees' Brainwaves and Emotions (fastcompany.com) 123

From a report: The Orwellian-as-all-get-out practice is being conducted using "emotional surveillance technology" by both businesses in China and the country's military, reports the South China Morning Post. The tech uses small wireless sensors embedded in employees' hats that can monitor brainwaves. That brainwave data is then analyzed by AI to tell when an employee is tired, anxious, or even full of rage. One company using the brain-monitoring tech says profits have increased by $315 million since rolling it out way back in 2014. Other uses of the tech include monitoring drivers of trains to tell if they've fallen asleep or are at risk of doing so. It's important to note the technology cannot read people's thoughts.
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China is Now Monitoring Employees' Brainwaves and Emotions

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  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @10:48AM (#56529261)

    We barely understand how emotions work and now we want to monitor emotions in people who have every reason to hide them?

    Good luck...

    • EEG can really tell how alert you are - if you are starting to drift, so I think it is fine for drivers, pilots, dangerous machine operators etc. Fine and proven technology. Emotions? Not yet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My first thought was, what a great way to better understand how the brain works. I just wish it wasn't being practiced/trained by eastasia...or was it eurasia...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The more you think you have something to hide, the more China wants to know about it.

      And they don't need 100% hitrate. They only need to cow you into restricting yourself to thinking only part-approved thoughts and feeling party-approved feelings. They've managed that without the tech for going on how long already? This is just an incremental refinement, not a revolution.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A system with lots of noise and false positives is perfect for the intended application.

      You just ignore it except when you want a pretense for punishing somone. Then having selected the person you want to find something wrong with you wait for their feed to have a random blip and pounce. You point to the data that says they were emotionally unstable or whatever and claim to have saved the day by putting them away. Do it infrequently enough that on average the risk is negligible and only to one person at a t

    • We can't identify feelings or emotions (many people erroneously conflate the two) even with the most advanced and cumbersome brain imaging technologies, e.g. fMRI & PET.

      However, it's relatively easy to measure people's levels of cognitive arousal. I think we should introduce these arousal sensor hats for senators, congressmen, members of parliament, etc.. It'd be great to see when they're making evidence-informed rational decisions or just acting out of some incidental state of arousal. It could tell us

    • "We" is perhaps the most potentially dangerous word in such discussions. Though "they" is not far behind it, and may be worse.

      Notice how the antecedents are different in the two uses? And how one of the uses doesn't even include the person using it? (I'm assuming he or she doesn't run any businesses or military organizations in China.)

  • Yet! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2018 @10:50AM (#56529295)

    It's important to note the technology cannot read people's thoughts.

    YET!

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Ummm...why? To quote Professor Snape, “The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by an invader. The mind is a complex and many-layered thing.”

      That seems apropos. The brain itself has various parts that work in parallel. What part of it contains the mind that it may be read? It is likely there is no single part, so that parallel parts contents would have to be assembled into a coherent picture. That itself

    • As soon as it does, there will be a lot less crime, faster court proceedings, and better politicians. Bring it on!
  • by Mordaximus ( 566304 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @10:55AM (#56529337)

    They made fun of me decades ago, but who's got the last laugh now!

    • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @10:58AM (#56529361)

      They have the last laugh. Little do you know they put the sensors *right in the tinfoil*. You *thought* you were protecting yourself but you just played right into their hands.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A tin foil hat would probably increase conductivity, making the brain scanners more accurate.

      • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

        A tin foil hat would probably increase conductivity, making the brain scanners more accurate.

        Yep, the whole tin-foil hat thing was secretly promulgated by the government to make it easier to track and monitor the people who can see through all of the government's tricks and lies. That's why I built a farraday cage around my head. Now I just have to deal with people asking me why I have a copper birdcage on my head.

  • by aicrules ( 819392 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:10AM (#56529447)
    Their publicly disclosed net income went from about $130 million in 2014 to $160 million in 2016 and then dropped considerably to about $65 million in 2017? Couldn't possibly be exaggerating or just plain lying right?
    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      Their publicly disclosed net income

      There it is. Obviously the Chinese government was paying them under the table to use their employees as guinea pigs to test the brainwave technology. Personally, if I were a Chinese citizen, I would be a little wary if they started handing out free hats at the next Party meeting.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Don't let the facts get in the way of propaganda. They need people to think it's effective so they don't reject the idea.

    • Maybe there is such a thing as GROSS Profit vs NET Profit, but hey -- what do I know?
      • Well it's not much of an improvement if the net profit doesn't go up. I'd even give them the benefit of the doubt if net profit rose proportionally. But since it dropped considerably that $315 million increase is meaningless even if there is an actual on the books number that it comes from.
      • They did have a stock price increase that could be correlated to a 2014 implementation. But since mid-2016 the stock has been on a steady decline. Obviously these are neither indicators of this specific activity directly impacting profitability, but still brings their claim into question. Being unwilling to give details of the program also makes it questionable.
  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:13AM (#56529469)
    That might be a great idea if 100% of the people are required all to use the device except for Trump. He has no brain waves to study at all.
    • Do you want Psycho Pass? Because this is how you get Psycho Pass...

      "The story takes place in an authoritarian future dystopia, where omnipresent public sensors continuously scan the mental states of every passing citizen. Collected data on both present mentality and aggregated personality data is used to gauge the probability of that citizen committing a crime, the rating referred to as that citizen's Psycho-Pass. Authorities are alerted whenever excessive ratings are detected, and officers of the Public S

  • by perotbot ( 632237 ) on Monday April 30, 2018 @11:19AM (#56529507) Journal
    This is what L. Bob Reif was after in snowcrash, I'm not sure I want to live in this future
  • ...I recoil the same way everyone else does.

    But at the same time, I also lament that tech like this could actually work for our betterment, if only we could find a way to ensure it was deployed by trustworthy people with adequate safeguards against misuse. For example this could identify people who need some form of support to get them out of whatever rut they are in (rather than labeling them as undesirables, throwing them on the trash heap, and hiring someone else o retrain from scratch). It could be a

    • I also lament that tech like this could actually work for our betterment, if only we could find a way to ensure it was deployed by trustworthy people with adequate safeguards against misuse.

      There's an easy solution to that - don't fucking network it. The vast majority of people who are spinning out of control don't know it. Just telling them they have an issue can get a lot of people to seek help.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      if only we could find a way to ensure it was deployed by trustworthy people with adequate safeguards against misuse

      Said of every privacy invasive technology ever invented. It has not happened yet. I don't see any evidence whatsoever from any time in history that something privacy invasive has not employed in an abusive fashion at relatively high frequency. I have not even see much evidence to suggest measures to address the abuse after the fact really put an end to it; except in very small examples either geographically or in narrowness of rule. Take HIPPA for example. I do pen-testing - medical industry pretty oft

    • But at the same time, I also lament that tech like this could actually work for our betterment...

      Pre-crime

  • China forgot that Black Mirror is a TV show, not an instructional video.
  • by fedos ( 150319 ) <allen,bouchard&gmail,com> on Monday April 30, 2018 @02:09PM (#56531125) Homepage
    China Uses Pseudoscience as Excuse to Punish Employees
  • Hmm....pretty complicated to detect things like depression with an EEG cap. Stress, may be easier...Still, I'm skeptical that this "huge boost in profits" doesn't just come from scaring people into thinking that their thoughts are being read.
  • ...before going postal.

  • One company using the brain-monitoring tech says profits have increased by $315 million since rolling it out way back in 2014.

    This company makes and sells brain-monitoring equipment.

  • This scam is as old as the hills. It's easy to get the government to buy a bunch of garbage, here in the USA they sell airport security machines and "lie detectors"
  • I'd like to think that Chinese companies want to ensure that their workers remain happy and don't burn out. Too much stress and the boss comes over with a nice cup of tea and some biscuits. Is that the idea?!!

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