Major Companies Caught Using AI To Monitor Employees’ Online Conversations

FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2020 file photo, a Walmart store sign is visible from Route 28 in Derry, N.H. Walmart reports their financial earnings on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

In the age of remote work, traditional water cooler conversations have moved online. However, recent studies have raised fears that artificial intelligence (AI) could be analyzing these digital exchanges.

Companies such as Walmart, Delta, T-Mobile, Chevron, and Starbucks have reportedly installed monitoring software from the firm “Aware” to control employee talks on messaging apps. Nestle and AstraZeneca, two European businesses, are also cited in this tendency, according to BreezyScroll.

The ‘Aware’ program searches platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams for terms that indicate employee dissatisfaction and potential safety issues. According to CNBC, the company has analyzed a massive amount of data, including up to 20 billion individual communications from over 3 million employees.

Jeff Schumann, CEO of Aware, highlighted that their AI enables businesses to analyze employee sentiment in real-time, eliminating the need for annual surveys.

The anonymized data in Aware’s analytics solution enables businesses to see how different staff groups respond to changes or campaigns. The AI can also detect numerous behaviors, like bullying and harassment. Importantly, the analytics tool does not identify specific employees’ names, although a different tool can do so in high-threat scenarios. Walmart, T-Mobile, Chevron, and Starbucks utilize Aware’s technology for governance, risk, and compliance, which accounts for 80% of the company’s business, according to Mr Schumann.