Clippy says “I’ve noticed that you’re stressed out by the Microsoft Office Assistant. Would you like me to:
- Administer a measured dose of Temazepam
- Administer a measured dose of Morphine
- Automatically report this to your manager
- Book you in for a health check up
- Change the Office Assistant to a mini Steve Ballmer?”
So, Microsoft has applied for a patent on what is affectionately being dubbed “MS Office Spy”.
If you’ve not already heard about this, the idea is that a hidden module in MS Office will monitor your breathing, heart rate, blood sugar and stress hormone levels whilst you’re at work.
The very thought of this has probably already kicked off a flood of stress hormones into your bloodstream. All very well intentioned, although the civil liberties aspects will almost undoubtedly prevent it ever getting implemented.
But what if it is put into practice? Well, there will of course be a number of unpredicted technological spin offs. What author William Gibson famously described as “The street finding its own use for things”…
The first beta, sorry, CTP releases will no doubt be buggy. Ex-colleagues will be flagged as being in ill health and recommended a week off with full sick pay. Which will be automatically credited to their bank account without informing payroll, even though the person in question left three years ago.
By v1.0, spouses will be simultaneously informed by text message and email that their beloved is dead, and the funeral parlour automatically contacted with height and weight measurements, when in reality the “deceased” has just not properly undocked themselves from their ActiveSync metabolism monitor.
Version 2.0 will be more reliable but riddled with security holes and buffer overflow issues. Mischievous colleagues will hack your machine and rack up your supposed heart rate until you keel over. Or set it so low that you’re clinically dead. And it will no doubt insecurely post all of this data to a web service which also has a security problem, so that anyone who cares to can see the health records for an entire nation, without too much effort.
But what I like most is the idea that you’ll be able to submit your rankings online to a site that gathers your individual data, and ranks it. Then, at the end of the year there will be awards for the most sleep deprived developer, the longest marketing migraine, the highest admin anxiety levels, and the most days worked past midnight in a year by a business consultant.
Perhaps Jolt Cola could sponsor it, the perfect caffeine-fuelled corporate sponsorship deal….