The ‘Internet of things’ is the next big thing in technology. Supposedly you will have combinations of sensors, RFID tags and Internet links that will be as much a part of you as your clothes, and will allow you to control everything in your life, from your thermostat to your garage door.
But this is not just a new technology for people to control things. It is a new technology for people to control other people as if they were things.
“The next wave is wearable technology, like Google Glass, smart watches, and smart vests,” [Jason] Prater of Plex systems explained.
The data will be sent to the factory’s computer where every movement and drop of sweat will be recorded and analyzed.
In Gartner [Inc.]’s words: monitoring, sensing and remote control … …
“Today, decisions are made instantaneously,” Prater said. “We can’t wait to hear about things after the fact.”
And then the industry insider too had an intriguing forecast: “Turning people into essentially walking sensors is going to be the future.”
via Wolf Street.
“Monitoring, sensing and remote control.” Hmm.
Engineers will be able to constantly monitor the air temperature, humidity, and working conditions of a factory process, and track employee motions for ergonomics research and safety concerns.
New Internet-based technologies will allow all the data to be managed automatically, so that factory tooling and equipment can be adjusted without human intervention, Jason Prater … said … at the 2014 Management Briefing Seminars.
via Automotive News.
“Track employee motions.” Hmm.
What the new technology will mean for factory workers is this: Managers will track what every line worker is doing every minute of the day, and make sure that (1) they never let up and (2) they always do things in the “one best way” as outlined in Frederick W. Taylor’s system of Scientific Management.
The key idea of Scientific Management is for industrial engineers to design an optimum way to perform any repetitive task, to teach factory workers to do it that way and to make sure they conform.
This is dehumanizing, but I think it is a bad idea even from the standpoint of economic efficiency—that is, unless you think economic efficiency is the same thing as managerial convenience.
The “one best way” system does not allow workers to use their intelligence and experience to adapt to variability of circumstancs.
And, of course, if you decide to treat employees as if they were machines, there is no reason not to decide to replace them with actual machines.
Telephone operators, data processors and customer service representatives know what it is like to work every minute of the day under surveillance, and to be punished for any slippage from the schedule or deviation from the script. The new technology would bring surveillance and control to a new level.
Goal of Becoming ‘Internet of Things': Monitoring, Sensing, Remote Control – Factory Workers First, You Next by Wolf Richter on Wolf Street. Hat tip to Naked Capitalism.