Canon has come up with a new AI-enabled ‘smile recognition’ technology through which AI cameras in its Chinese subsidiary Canon Information Technology offices only let smiling workers enter rooms or book meetings.

The company said it wants to ensure that every employee is 100 percent happy all the time.

This was highlighted in a report in The Financial Times on how Chinese companies are surveilling their employees to an unsettling degree with the help of AI and algorithms, The Verge reported.

Firms monitor which programs employees use on their computers to gauge their productivity, use CCTV cameras to measure how long they take on their lunch break, and even track their movements outside the office using mobile apps.

Canon Information Technology announced its ‘smile recognition’ cameras last year as part of a suite of workplace management tools, but the technology doesn’t seem to have gotten much attention.

Indeed, the fact it passed under the radar is a good illustration of just how common surveillance tools like this are becoming — and not just in China.

According to the report, AI-enabled smile recognition cameras are in many ways the least dangerous type of surveillance technology.

They have the benefit of being obvious. Other systems of control are much more subtle, and probably ‘coming to an office near you sometime soon’, it added.

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