Drew Millard, The Outline:
On August 9, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Google, the company who no longer tells its employees to not be evil. The product Google is hoping to patent is, as the application puts it, “A method and system for automating work pattern quantification.”
Google’s application states that, “There is a need for a tool which automates the process of quantifying work patterns and provides feedback on worker focus.” Google hopes to accomplish this, essentially, by automating the process of bosses spying on their employees.
While I guess people might become marginally more productive if a computer told them stuff they didn’t already know about their work habits, the above screen displaying a message that an employee “may want to block this time off on your calendar in order to maximize your focused time” feels less like a word of encouragement and more like a threat. If a person ignored their Google Success Productivity Focus Coach™ and just did things their own way, would that give their boss a reason to fire them for not doing some imaginary extra work a computer program invented for them?