Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Microsoft's Workplace Social Network Becomes Emotionally Aware


I read Technology Review (or at least skim it and read one or two complete articles) nearly every day. And now and then I come across a jaw-dropper, like the article headlined, Microsoft's Workplace Social Network Becomes Emotionally Aware. The social networking software is called Yammer, and Microsoft bought the company that makes it for $1.2 billion. 

"Mining workers' messages for emotional trends could help managers monitor morale, but the technology struggles with humor," says the article's teaser, which sounds slightly scary. 

Imagine Robert Heinlein's book, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, with a humorless Mycroft Holmes, the self-aware computer that is a major character who helps main (human) character Mannie and his mentor, Professor Bernardo de la Paz, start a revolution against the evil  Lunar Authority.That could be even worse than HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Somehow I don't think Microsoft is considering the computers on the network when it comes to emotional monitoring. Maybe it should. In any case, this is a potentially major -- and potentially very scary -- advance in software development.

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