In the latest piece of evidence that we’re living squarely in a dystopia, Walmart has won a patent for technology that will allow bosses to eavesdrop on their workers. The audio surveillance technology can measure workers’ performance and listen to their conversations with customers at checkout. The “listening to the frontend” technology, as its called, might never be used—it’s one of many patents the company has applied for in recent years—but shows that company bosses are thinking about how they can use tech to monitor their workers. Walmart said in a statement: “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.” According to the patent, the surveillance system would use sensors in the cashier area to collect audio such as “beeps,” “rustling noises,” and “conversations between guests and an employee stationed at the terminal.” It would then analyze the information and use it to calculate “performance metric[s]” for the employee.
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