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Microsoft, The Fast Buy, And Big Brother

Stress at work, commit a thought crime, and The Computer will know

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Everyone thinks Microsoft’s purchase of Fast Search & Transfer is about enterprise search. We thought there could be more to the deal. Here’s a stream of consciousness for you to consider.
Microsoft, The Fast Buy, And Big Brother

In the remake of Casino Royale, James Bond connects himself from Montenegro to MI6 in London so they can figure out the poison Le Chiffre’s associate added to his drink. Remote medical monitoring in the real world might become a matter of business, based on something Microsoft has been developing.

The Times Online described a patent sought by Microsoft. This technology would monitor aspects of the physical state of a computer user connected to the system.

Someone who is feeling a little stressed out by their employer would end up sending a signal to human resources. Management could provide help to the employee as they see fit.

Take a moment to indulge in a little outrage yourself. If developed and implemented in the business world, this could be the most reprehensible invasion of privacy ever proposed.

Now we’ll tie it into the Fast purchase. The Norwegians have some fascinating products in their solutions mix.

In the category of Surveillance and Enforcement, Fast offers products that assist with threat detection and criminal investigation. These relate to data, of course.

But Microsoft’s patent would turn physiological responses into data. The company has been working on ways to assess data, based on the patent. We can’t see any reason why the Fast Surveillance and Enforcement tools couldn’t be part of the assessment chain.

Frustration in the workplace may end up being interpreted as more than pressure from an upcoming deadline. Imagine a world where physical responses to stress cause someone to be accused of thought crimes.

Stay tuned. Big Brother will be watching.

Microsoft, The Fast Buy, And Big Brother
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  • Adriaan Bloem

    …you’re kidding, right?

    That’s likely something that’ll turn up in the Xbox (to counter Wii) or maybe the next version of Windows (to counter Apple’s gesture control). Maybe. Some day.

    Monitoring the physiology of employees is the sort of way-out-there niche that Autonomy or FAST might go after — after all, they have to keep expanding at a faster rate than the enterprise search market at large — and now that FAST is being acquired by Microsoft, only Autonomy would be into that (for a very select market, I might add).

    The real story here is that it’s interesting to see that while MS said they’d finally cracked enterprise search, they now sort of admit they need FAST’s technology to get it right.

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