By this point, everyone knows that you're being watched, listened to and recorded just about everywhere you go. Often, companies justify this for either security purposes or in order to provide better customer service. Of course, up until now, people pointed out that all that recording just made a huge pile of data -- none of it very useful. Going through all of it was more of a pain than anything else. However, it appears that technology is coming to the rescue for a few different types of surveillance. Last week we talked about some new techniques that law enforcement was using, but it appears the commercial sector is jumping on the trend just as quickly. On the phone side, new tools are getting better at monitoring phone conversations for when a problem arises or tracking certain words or phrases to get a general sense of what customers are saying. As for video cameras, a similar bit of pattern recognition means security guards don't need to just stare at tapes, since the system is supposedly trained to notice suspicious behavior on its own and alert security. It's good to see these routine tasks automated in some sense, but it remains to be seen how effective they are. It also raises the risk that people begin to rely on them too much, and they then miss out on certain things a human would have spotted, but the computer does not.
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