Workplace Monitoring Hell, I Mean, Tool For Safe Distancing

A new workplace (and public place, apparently) monitoring tool has been released by Andrew Ng's startup Landing AI. In real time, it shows who obeys and who does not.

On Thursday, the startup released a blog post with a new demo video showing off a new social distancing detector. On the left is a feed of people walking around on the street. On the right, a bird’s-eye diagram represents each one as a dot and turns them bright red when they move too close to someone else. The company says the tool is meant to be used in work settings like factory floors and was developed in response to the request of its customers (which include Foxconn). It also says the tool can easily be integrated into existing security camera systems, but that it is still exploring how to notify people when they break social distancing...

The detector must first be calibrated to map any security footage against the real-world dimensions. A trained neural network then picks out the people in the video, and another algorithm computes the distances between them.

(Via Technology Review.)

Marshall Brain nailed this idea down about twenty years ago in his story Manna, about a computer system able to perfectly manage workplaces.

Even social distancing.

"Manna has you moving through the store aisle by aisle. I bet I am walking six or eight miles a day right now. I am constantly straightening merchandise on the shelves. Manna knows where I am, and it knows where everything is on the shelves, so it asks me item by item to straighten them. Manna is telling you exactly what to do every second of every day. If it asks you to go to the back and get merchandise, it tells you exactly where to walk to go get it. And here is the weirdest part -- I never see another employee the entire day. The way it makes me walk, I never run into anyone else. I can go for a full shift and never see another employee. Even our breaks are staggered. Everyone takes their breaks alone. We all arrive at staggered times. It's like Manna is trying to totally eliminate human interaction on the job."
(Read more about Marshall Brain's workplace distancing)

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