Major Companies Using AI To Monitor All Employee Messages

Major U.S. companies are utilizing artificial intelligence programs to conduct surveillance on their employees, and the practice is spreading quickly.

According to CNBC, large firms such as Walmart, Delta Airlines, Starbucks, T-Mobile, and Chevron are spying on their workers through specialized software. Applications for this endeavor include Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.

The outlet reported they are using software from “Aware,” a startup A.I. company. These businesses are now able to read messaging from within their ranks and make decisions on a wide array of employee issues.

CNBC noted that these and other large companies use Aware’s technology, “and that accounts for about 80% of the company’s business.” The report added, “It doesn’t take a dystopian novel enthusiast to see where it could all go very wrong.”

Aware’s co-founder and CEO, Jeff Schumann, reportedly started a company in 2005 named

Schumann lauded the work of his company’s software, saying firms may monitor how employees of a particular subset react to a change in company policy.

He further boasted that the AI models are designed to read text and process images. In this way, they may identify behaviors such as bullying, discrimination, harassment, and nudity.

Schumann said the software is also capable of checking for noncompliance.

With its sweeping capabilities, the AI enables employers to get a read on worker sentiment in real-time and not rely on other tools such as periodic surveys.

The CEO explained that the AI is not able to flag distinct employee names. That is easily worked around, Schumann added, through its separate eDiscovery tool.

This may be implemented if there is reason to believe there is an extreme threat or an array of risk behaviors.

One critic, Jutta Williams of AI accountability nonprofit Humane Intelligence, said there is a distinct Orwellian feel to utilizing such software to monitor workers. “A lot of this becomes thought crime. This is treating people like inventory in a way I’ve not seen.”

Despite concerns of civil libertarians, this technology has exploded just within the past year. As for Aware, its revenue is up over 150% per year on average for the last five years, signally this type of spying appears to be here to stay.