By Tom Simonite
We all know how it feels to be low on energy at the end of a long work day. Some call-center agents at insurer MetLife are watched over by software that knows how it sounds.
A program called Cogito presents a cheery notification when the toll of hours discussing maternity or bereavement benefits show in a worker’s voice....
Eavesdropping by corporate, emotionally aware software, may bother some consumers, even those used to being watched by cameras and online tracking. Analyzing a customer’s voice doesn’t require additional disclosure beyond the familiar line advising that calls may be monitored. “I’m habituated to that warning but this feels different,” says Elaine Sedenberg, a graduate researcher and co-director of the Center for Technology, Society & Policy at the University of California Berkeley. “I’m not expecting that extra layer of analysis.”
Sedenberg also questions whether technology like Cogito’s works equally well across different groups of people, which could lead to disparities in service between different social or ethnic groups....
Elaine Sedenberg is a Ph.D. student in the Berkeley School of Information and and co-director of the Center for Technology, Society & Policy.