Saturday, March 01, 2008

The FUTURE is STILL NOW! (or rather, still about 8-10 days ago....)

Just a couple of other items that could have gone with a prior post.

First we have MicroSoft being evil again.

Microsoft seeks patent for office 'spy' software

From The Times, January 16, 2008:

Microsoft is developing Big Brother-style software capable of remotely monitoring a worker’s productivity, physical wellbeing and competence.

The Times has seen a patent application filed by the company for a computer system that links workers to their computers via wireless sensors that measure their metabolism. The system would allow managers to monitor employees’ performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure. Unions said they fear that employees could be dismissed on the basis of a computer’s assessment of their physiological state.


Microsoft submitted a patent application in the US for a “unique monitoring system” that could link workers to their computers. Wireless sensors could read “heart rate, galvanic skin response, EMG, brain signals, respiration rate, body temperature, movement facial movements, facial expressions and blood pressure”, the application states.

The system could also “automatically detect frustration or stress in the user” and “offer and provide assistance accordingly”. Physical changes to an employee would be matched to an individual psychological profile based on a worker’s weight, age and health. If the system picked up an increase in heart rate or facial expressions suggestive of stress or frustration, it would tell management that he needed help.

Just think of it as part of a new wellness initiative. And don't forget since employers pay the majority of health care costs for employees who are insured, they do have motivation to get involved. (The same goes if the government nationalizes health care. Remember, it takes a village!)

Also from The Times, this time from February 28, 2008, comes this story that ties into one in my other post.

The computer headset that reads minds
A device that decodes activity within the brain could benefit stroke patients, people suffering from paralysis – and gamers
Soon, it seems, not even the interior of the human mind will be beyond the reach of technology. As computers become ever smaller, more powerful and ubiquitous, work is gathering pace on an idea that comes straight from science fiction: the brain-machine interface.

The goal is to create a device that can monitor what goes on inside the brain, providing insight into neural problems and, eventually, allowing direct control of technology via the brain. Future versions of the device in the video above will be able to switch on electronic equipment in the home or even to guide a character through a computer game without any physical interaction, researchers suggest.
Yep, the future has already arrived, and we've hardly noticed. Will we notice (or have we already missed) the much prophesied Singularity?

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