MIT is researching ways for people to problem-solve work while they're asleep, according to a recent article in Slate:
In evening sessions, participants attempted to solve brainteasers, each paired with a different music clip. Then, we presented some of the music clips while participants slept. In the morning, participants reattempted the same brainteasers they failed to solve the prior night. We were excited to find that participants solved more of the brainteasers that were cued overnight.
MIT is also
... making progress on new technology to monitor sleep at home paired with apps that present targeted memory reactivation cues.
When I first read the story, I thought "Wow, this is kind of cool," because I've used quick "power naps" to restore my creativity during my mid-afternoon slumps. But then it occurred to me that this is the perfect example of a technology that can and will be abused.
Over the past three decades, we've seen companies become increasingly and intrusively insistent upon long work hours. In many workplaces, it's expected that workers spend (as Elon Musk recommends) from 80 to 120 hours on work each week, and be on call 24/7.
The one part of our lives that remained sacrosanct was the time we spent sleeping, although even that was expected to be as brief as possible, with getting up before the sun a badge of corporate commitment.
So, how long will it be before aggressive corporate cultures start insisting that even when you sleep, you'll be solving problems, driving innovation, and being more productive? I'll tell you how long: a hot Silicon Valley microsecond.
It's bad enough that we're expected to answer emails, handle customer questions, and do all sorts of work when we're supposedly on our "personal time," but now soon we'll be expected to be productive even while we're asleep in bed.
For the past five decades, we've been hearing stuff like "love your job and you won't work a single day of your life" and "if you don't show up to work on Saturday, don't bother showing up for work on Sunday" (a perfect example of workplace "kidding not kidding").
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm sure the MIT researchers have their hearts in the right place, but I'm also certain that they're not thinking through the unintended consequences of the technology that they're developing.
But that's how we've been creating the workplace dystopia -- one damn app at a time.