Office Humour is a speculative design piece that explores the culture that might emerge when data points like laughter function as a performance metric. The piece raises questions about agency at multiple levels. Humans can adapt their culture to algorithmic motoring. But is that ok? Do we allow humans and machines the agency to develop their culture together, or should one always be subject to the other? Who has agency in this situation? The humans who create the laughter, or the algorithm who instigates it?
The piece functions on the basis of a neural network to take live measurements of laughter from its environment and places them within the narrative of a satirical productivity product. Participants are invited to interact with the product. As they do, they experience how laughter — a very natural and personal sound — can be turned into a data point and used to police and monitor their performance in an inhuman way.
The piece tells a story that encourages participants to reflect on the sorts of data they gather in their work and the purposes to which any data may be put in the future.
Office Humour is a project by James O’Neill and Frauke Hein of Fjord Dublin.