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Workers express fears over emotion-tracking AI

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Employees are worried about their well-being and privacy due to the implementation of emotion AI at work.

A recent academic study, discussed in The Conversation, has evaluated how companies are using artificial intelligence (AI), their objectives, and how employees perceive this technology.

Emotion AI is a type of AI that helps machines understand human emotions, like interpreting facial expressions, vocal tones, and eye movements.

The study reveals that emotion AI is already in use in various sectors such as call centers, finance, banking, and healthcare. It is estimated that more than half of large U.S. companies are using this technology to assess and track their employees, but what are the implications for the workforce?

Employee Concerns about Emotion AI Usage

Out of 289 survey respondents, worries about well-being, privacy, potential negative impacts on performance, and concerns about mental health stigma were highlighted.

One employee with multiple health issues expressed, “Knowing that I am being monitored could ironically harm my mental well-being.”

Despite the intended goal of emotion AI to enhance employee well-being, its implementation can have the opposite effect by compromising privacy and eroding confidence.

Another worker with a diagnosed mental health condition raised apprehensions about emotional surveillance jeopardizing their job security, saying, “They might decide I’m not fit for the job and terminate my employment, deny me a raise, or question my work ethics.”

Supporters of this technology, including employers, emphasize the benefits of emotion AI in promoting employee well-being, enhancing workplace safety, increasing productivity, and aiding decision-making processes like promotions and dismissals.

However, the potential human costs of deploying this technology need to be carefully evaluated, considering its impact on individuals’ emotions, workplace morale, relationships, as well as the challenges of privacy and bias.

Image credit: Tara Winstead/Pexels.

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