Nobody wants their boss looking over their shoulder all day—especially as technology helps automate that process. In 2020, Microsoft announced it had developed software that could track and score worker productivity, then followed it up with a patent for an AI that can see if you are bored or engaged in a video meeting.
Perhaps it’s not a full invasion of personal privacy—aren’t we typing into shared spreadsheets and staring into group webcams anyway?—but it is certainly an assault on our individual liberty. These technologies infringe on our freedom to pursue tasks under our own timing and comfort, not as automatons, but as humans.
To counter that trend, the Royal College of Art industrial design student Boyu Ding created a speculative design that could thwart some of the most egregious workplace surveillance. In a project dubbed The Great Cheater, Ding presents a convincing (though not actually realized) product to fool your employer into thinking you’re working, even when you aren’t.
The system consists of an open source camera and automatic mouse clicker. Ding suggests that you could download full schematics on Github, then buy the parts from places like Amazon to assemble yourself.