back to article What happens when back-flipping futuristic robot technology meets capitalism? Yeah, it’s warehouse work

Those fearing a takeover of the human race by robots may have failed to adequately account for the drudgery of modern capitalism. Supermachine maker Boston Dynamics – the same outfit that gave us videos of back-flipping, door-opening, prowling robots – has unveiled its latest creation and it’s, well, it’s a warehouse laborer …

  1. fajensen
    Terminator

    The problem with taking on "robots for dangerous or repetitive work" is that the owner of the plant assumes the full costs of having said work and working conditions* - on top of permanently owning the robots despite Market Conditions (or paying through their nose on leasing), and they won't like it one little bit.

    With people, the long established practice is to rub almost everything off on "Society".

    *) Real 'robotisized' plants are cleaner, better lighted, and have better A/C + air filtration, than the homes of the people who work there, including management!

  2. 9Rune5

    Beats (my) expectations

    I thought they would end up sitting in an electric wheelchair while manning a conveyor belt spot welding parts to other parts (like a robotic arm).

    Kinda reminds me of that episode of "Silicon Valley" where all their cool technology ended up as "the box" that got stuck in a rack someplace nobody could see it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Beats (my) expectations

      That's the (conjoined triangles of) compromise between engineering and marketing!

    2. Spherical Cow

      Re: Beats (my) expectations

      They look like Triffids to me. Robotic evil plants OF DOOM.

  3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    At what point will these beasts of burden be seen as with other beasts of burden like donkeys, and people start setting up robo-donkey sancturies for them? When do we get legions of obsolete EMHs labouring in the dilithium mines?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At what point will these beasts of burden

      more pressing is when will they become available as sex slaves (after some minor part-realignment)? Hopefully soon, given sex is at the forefront of any revolution?! Now, about those drones...

      1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Re: At what point will these beasts of burden

        Hello support.

        I'd like to report a problem with one of your products.

        Yes sir, which one?

        Sexy Susan 1000. It appears to have bitten off my penis.

        Oh, I'm very sorry to hear that. Let me send out a free replacement. Bye.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

    and those human excess body mass in them amazon halls, suddenly empty-handed? Well, they can always re-qualify as 'repair engineers', I've heard that argument for years! The alternative solution offered when pointing the bleeding obvious is: "the market figures blablahblah show that automation blahblablah ACTUALLY increases job prospects for human candidates blahblablahblahblah. There, isn't it the answer you expected, amazon fulfillment centre ex-collegue? Well, anyways, we wish you all the best in your new career path, please check the amount of final change we paid you was correct, because it is YOUR responsibility to make sure we didn't fuck you on the way out"

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

      If every warehouse worker made redundant by a robot is needed as a repairer then there is no cost saving; you now have the same number of employees on the payroll (but as skilled staff rather than unskilled labour) and you have the robots.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

        There are two components to profit, cost and revenue.

        If the robots can do a lot more work, you can (potentially, at least) collect more revenue by managing more of the inventory yourself and/or selling more own-label products versus third party products. Your profit increases if your revenue increases by more than your cost increased from deprecating the capital expense of the robots (or more likely in 2021, leasing them) and converting warehouse staffers into higher paid robot repairers.

        Down the road when they can offer robots capable of robot repair, they can fire all the humans!

        1. Keven E
          Holmes

          Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

          It should be ownership/partnership with one worker + one robot. Any increase in efficiency will add time off for the worker... or perhaps more pay... that would be up to the worker. The worker is responsible for maintenance and operation of the robot. Both worker and robot is capable of performing the work, however, human (reasonable) productivity must be the base pay/expectation... good luck with that one.... as in, the human *owns the robot, not the company.

    2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

      Similar arguments were used by the luddites.

      At the individual level they were right, because they were losing their employment, but at the macro level they were wrong, because automation of their jobs removed the need for future generations to put their children under running machinery or spend their lives destroying their bodies for someone else's profit.

      Automation of repetitive manual labour is always a net good for society. For just one example, look at farming. Harvesting a few fields of wheat used to require hundreds of people working for days. Now two people can do the work of those hundreds in half the time. Automation in farming increased the efficiency of land use enough to supply more food than the human race physically needs from less land that was used a century ago (though the issues over how that food is distributed leave a lot to be desired, and up to a third of that food is lost due to lack of proper storage facilities in the third world).

      The only thing that ultimately justifies the retention of human labour for many repetitive jobs is that the supply of human labour is currently significantly cheaper than the machine, especially as much of the lowest paid labour comes from economic migrants who end up paid just enough to survive and nothing more.

      It might suck in the short term, especially for the individuals involved, but that's not an argument against automation in and of itself, otherwise most of us would still be harvesting someone else's crops by hand.

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

        "Automation of repetitive manual labour is always a net good for society."

        While I mostly agree with your point, there is an important caveat to bear in mind here - automation of repetitive manual labour has always been a net good for society. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. The invention of agriculture led to people having free time in which to develop things like science and philosophy. The industrial revolution effectively led to the services sector becoming the largest part of the economy.

        But the problem is that no-one at the time knew any of that was going to happen. Things were done for short-term gain by relatively few people, and it eventually turned out to be good for society as a whole. Will that happen again? Quite possibly. But it would be foolish to just blindly assume that it is inevitable. The likes of Amazon and Uber don't want to replace all their employees with robots because it will lead to a utopian future, they want to do it to cut costs, and screw what happens to the little people. Their actions might lead to overall benefit regardless, but they also might not.

        We're at the point now where we have the chance to actually think about where we're going with all this, and have the benefit of history to have at least something to base our speculation on. We certainly shouldn't be luddities and decry any change because some jobs become obsolete. But we also should take the chance to think about what those people could now do instead and how we actually want society to develop, rather than just blindly rush ahead assuming everything will somehow turn out OK.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          That the frog is still alive doesn't mean it won't eventually boil...

          Yeah, the idea that lost jobs will always be replaced is the economic equivalent of Moore's law. It would break down were we to reach a point where we had robots who could do any task we assigned them.

          It seems unlikely we will get there. For a while. But machines are moving up the value chain and are becoming more and more capable of doing sophisticated tasks. Every ten high value jobs are being replaced by one or two high skilled ones and a lot of low skilled, low value jobs. That's why productivity is dire. That's why twenty and thirty year olds are, overall, worse off than their parents were at a similar age.

          Maybe it's a blip and we'll figure out a way. Clearly, part of the problem is that money is being hoarded. But I'm sceptical that the jobs will inevitably appear due to some unseen force of economics.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: That the frog is still alive doesn't mean it won't eventually boil...

            @Brewster's Angle Grinder

            "That's why twenty and thirty year olds are, overall, worse off than their parents were at a similar age."

            Really? While I was in education after school and college my parents were forced to take education to a lower level just to keep their jobs. We leave education into a qualified job vs parents who had to work from the low paid bottom and climb rungs. We have a massive abundance of a huge variety of foods. We have holiday destinations outside the country and far flung! And we can afford it!

            Each house having computers, TV's, mobile phones etc, multiple cars, access to investment vehicles that used to be prohibitively expensive. Baring the pandemic 20/30 yr olds are bloody loaded and have it nice.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: That the frog is still alive doesn't mean it won't eventually boil...

              "While I was in education after school and college my parents were forced to take education to a lower level just to keep their jobs. "

              Why were your parents forced to make education worse to keep their jobs? And only after you were at school and college? This seems very draconian. Was this in the UK? Or in some far off outpost with an authoritarian regime? These questions need answers!

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: That the frog is still alive doesn't mean it won't eventually boil...

                @AC

                "Why were your parents forced to make education worse to keep their jobs?"

                They needed to take education to a lower level than I attained before work.

                "And only after you were at school and college?"

                I was in university when my mother had to take a basic computing course, considering she worked in an office where they obviously all used computers already.

                "This seems very draconian. Was this in the UK?"

                I am not sure if you intentionally misread my comment of if you just took a very different spin on the words I used but hopefully it is clear now. And yes UK.

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

          @Cuddles

          "automation of repetitive manual labour has always been a net good for society. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance."

          It is a damned good predictor and acting without historical reasoning really does require some serious reason. Repetitive manual labour is also boring and physical. Two things a lot of people like to reduce doing naturally which is why automation tends to improve things.

          "But the problem is that no-one at the time knew any of that was going to happen."

          Nobody knows what people desire and how desires change. It is the experimentation through cheaper resources and increased time that allows for exploration of desires.

          "The likes of Amazon and Uber don't want to replace all their employees with robots because it will lead to a utopian future, they want to do it to cut costs, and screw what happens to the little people."

          Which ultimately helps the little people as money is information and reducing costs is improved productivity. One of the greatest successes is money. It has reduced hardship and improved lives globally where all other wishful thinking and well meaning has failed.

          "But we also should take the chance to think about what those people could now do instead and how we actually want society to develop, rather than just blindly rush ahead assuming everything will somehow turn out OK."

          That sounds like central planning aka the wishful thinking and well meaning that has caused so much misery in the world. We shouldnt be thinking of what people can go do instead of standing in the field, they can go do something else. We dont need to think about what people will do instead of climbing up a chimney or walking miles to collect water or crawling under dangerous machines, they can go do something else. Instead of trying to think up jobs for back breaking labourers we can let them go do what they want to do.

        3. SundogUK Silver badge

          Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

          Trying to plan how society should develop always ends up worse than just letting people get on with it.

          1. Francis Boyle

            Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

            Except you do need some sort of plan for when those who move fast and break things start to break people's lives.

        4. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

          “ to think about what those people could now do instead and how we actually want society to develop, rather than just blindly rush ahead”

          If this wax what we always were doing, we would still have to die of hunger each time the crops fail.

      2. Kubla Cant Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

        Totally true.

        But I have to disagree that in the case of the Luddites "automation of their jobs removed the need for future generations to put their children under running machinery". The Luddites were fighting against the mechanised weaving technology that entailed exactly that kind of child labour. It took another century for that need to be removed.

        Life as the child of hand-loom weavers probably wasn't idyllic, but there were few risks from high-speed machinery.

        1. SundogUK Silver badge

          Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

          "Life as the child of hand-loom weavers probably wasn't idyllic, but there were few risks from high-speed machinery."

          but still died younger.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

        "The only thing that ultimately justifies the retention of human labour for many repetitive jobs is that the supply of human labour is currently significantly cheaper than the machine"

        I'd also add that for many jobs humans are more adaptable, both at accommodating slightly different conditions and at slight physical changes. As a (rather dated now) example, a large manufacturer of servers had a very automated plant. Servers shuttled around on an elaborate conveyor system that was fed motherboards from several automated assembly lines. In the middle of each PCB assembly line sat a handful of human workers to insert the electrolytic capacitors.

        This looked odd to us, after all, automated through hole insertion equipment had existed for decades at this point. We asked the plant manager why they used humans (honestly, we were expecting to hear it was a labor union thing). The manager chuckled, and said that he had tried every robotic insertion technology available, but due to the different sizes of parts, the variance in packaging, etc, the best performing solution was three Bravarian women.

        ETA: I guess my long winded story still boils down to your argument, it's cheaper (because you need to spend huge/ infinite quantities of money of an off the shelf robot doesn't meet your needs).

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

          It also depends where you are. I have visited some very nice offices in India, where the elegant lawns around the buildings were being mown by two guys and a push-mower. "Why do they not use a ride-on petrol mower?" I asked. "Machines and petrol are expensive. Two men and a mower are cheaper".

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

            > Two men and a mower are cheaper

            Which is exactly why Rome, Greece, etc never developed technology. Slaves were cheap and abundant.

            1. Potemkine! Silver badge

              Re: exactly the sort of thing we want machines to do.

              Rome, Greece, etc never developed technology

              Are you sure about that?

              Greeks also developed nice things too.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's mad when you think about. Why remove the human from the equation? If you utilised the human brain and got the robot to aid with the manual labour you could drive efficiency through the roof yet here we are trying to get the robot to replace them in a never ending quest to cut costs.

    1. unbender

      Dr Who might have an opinion on that idea

      So sort of Cybermen?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Aliens too

        More like Ripley in a loader?

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Somehow I don't see this cutting costs much. The robot manufacturer may well figure the robot is at least as valuable as the human (or humans) it replaces, and factor that into the sale or rental price.

      Robot manufacturers want their cut of this bright new future, and their customers won't want the associated costs of maintaining the fleet themselves.

      Expect service contracts, not pure sales. Capitalism, baby!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Jimmy2Cows - In the exact same way

        cloud computing was pitched as a cost saving. It's not cheaper, it's a different accounting method.

      2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

        “ Robot manufacturers want their cut of this bright new future”

        They might want whatever, but they will only get what the market is prepared to pay them. Which is the value of marginal utility.

    3. 1947293

      > If you utilised the human brain and got the robot to aid with the manual labour

      In the context of warehouses, that is called a "forklift" and we already have them. They are great though!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wow, you just described a shovel when I was talking about a workbench and full tool set. Do you lot even know what robots are capable of these days but lack the control and programming to achieve their intended aims. Think outside the box, conveyor belts are great an all but some things can't be made or done on a conveyor belt.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    So1from what I see on the video, is a multi axis pick and place robot on a mobile base.

    Not what I envisaged for the 21st century.

    I don't see these as anything better than the automated warehousing pioneered by Sainsburys in the nineties just more complex to build and maintain. The ones on the video looked similar to the standard industrial unit used for windscreen placement right down to the vacuum pads.

    Just wait though, until all the industrial robots come fitted with full AI and they begin to unionise :]

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Alert

      Perhaps Boston thought of the bad PR and decided to not invent a Black Mirror Metalhead robot for warehouses?

      1. codejunky Silver badge
        Pint

        @Dan 55

        Frag grenades with mini trackers cost more

    2. onemark03

      all the industrial robots come fitted with full AI and they begin to unionise

      For that, would they not need to be sentient?

      A society of sentient robots? Hmmm.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "The ones on the video looked similar to the standard industrial unit used for windscreen placement right down to the vacuum pads."

      I wasn't impressed by them either. There was an assumption that everything in a container will arrive in well made cardboard boxes and can be picked up by the suckers attaching to side of the box. What if the supplier uses cheap nasty boxes or cheap nasty tape on the bottom or the contents are particularly heavy?

      As with all automation demos, they only ever show the machines working under perfect conditions.

    4. Jan 0

      > automated warehousing pioneered by Sainsburys in the nineties

      I don't think they were pioneers.

      I had a friend who was programming an automated warehouse with pickers and shelves from floor to high roof around 1970. (Programming in Fortran, of course!). He didn't speak of it as something new either!

  7. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Gimp

    There's a few things....

    I do wonder how they'll cope with. One is slightly soggy or misshapen boxes, will those suckers still be able to do the job if it can't get a clean grab on the box? And two - how would they cope with crap adhesive on the bottom of the boxes? If the box has got some weight in it but isn't picked up from the bottom, I'd say its likely to collapse and disgorge the contents on the floor. What then?

    Gimp icon because I suspect they'll still need some poor sod to watch over them incase they start trashing everything.

    1. Chronos

      Re: There's a few things....

      Consider the boxes the likes of a certain well-known hardware vendor uses; you know the ones, mahoosive 3 acre box with three dozen #6 screws in it. Those boxes are put together by a machine with a sliver of hot glue and a prayer. Lift those by the lid and the whole shebang falls to bits. Actually, if the little packet of #6 screws ever nudges the lid, all bets are off.

      Whoda thunk? Automation screws up automation. I suppose "not my department" transfers as seamlessly across botspace as it does fleshtube...

    2. 0laf
      Holmes

      Re: There's a few things....

      Yep my thoughts too. These beasties are picking up boxes using the sidewalls. Never mind the cardboard being slack crumpled or weak, all it would take is a heavy box that needs lifting by handles and these guys are fecked.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's a few things....

      The obvious answer is that box manufacturing is on the customer growth path of this company - they'll just follow the supply chain along and sell robots for that too.

      Nobody, of course, is going to mention that if some creative, humanity loving soul infects the software and firmware of this outfit it'll cause a failure along the whole supply chain, because that would be too obvious and it will never happen (etc ad infinitum, you know the drill).

      It's funny that the argument that "robots do work we don't want to do" never goes near the fact that there are plenty of people quite willing to do this for a living wage because it means they earn some money instead of trying to exist off handouts.

      1. 0laf
        Terminator

        Re: There's a few things....

        The video made me think of physicists who work on problems using perfect models.

        These robots will work great and be hyper efficient if they are working on perfect cardboard boxes, loaded with perfect goods, transported perfectly ending up stacked in the perfect way.

        When they can cope with a Yodel van carrying cheap carboard overloaded, ripped boxes, packed by a disgruntled and probably hungover human loader, driven through a potholed UK road network at excessive speed then parked haphazardly in the vacinity of the loading dock THEN I think this might work.

    4. thenitz

      Re: There's a few things....

      One of my customers has a production line for professional vacuum cleaners. In the past few years they managed to automate most of it, now the only steps done by people are driving the forklifts with parts from the warehouse, unloading them on the line, and packing the vacuums in the cardboard boxes.

      There are still plenty of people in the factory but most of them are tending to the machines when they fail, and handle exceptions and all sorts of unforeseen problems.

      Overall the management is happy with the result and they'll move towards even more automation, the next step is to use automated forklifts. The job positions are more attractive and easier to fill, it seems nowadays people aren't really keen to do long repetitive work on production lines and they have a hard time hiring. While, at the same time, the factory gets to be cost competitive with less expensive countries.

  8. Howard Sway Silver badge

    What happens when.....

    I order a big box full of magnets, and the robot can't put it down because they're stuck to it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What happens when.....

      I'm going to order a box full of robots and see them fight it out..

  9. Stumpy
    Terminator

    I'd be impressed if instead of it being a pick & drop unit on the end of a mobile conveyor if it could remove boxes by the palletful, read the labels on them and then place them in the correct place within warehouse/storage - then it'd be a useful/sensible solution.

    All I see here is something that looks less efficient than the human it professes to replace.

    ROTM? I don't think so - Sarah Connor is safe for a while longer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't think reading the labels will be problematic as everything I have receoved over the last 5 years or so has been barcoded to occasionally excruciating detail, but the job here is to empty a container - the sorting is on the other end of that conveyor.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > All I see here is something that looks less efficient than the human it professes to replace.

      What, something that can work 24 hours a day without whingeing or needing a piss break, and you think that is less efficient?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Saw that over 15 years ago at a manufacturing plant - bot-pallet-lift carried a pallet through an arch that was equipped with a barcode scanner, which told the system what was on the pallet. System chose an appropriate bay in their massive warehouse, bot-pallet-lift dropped pallet at the end of the appropriate aisle, bot-super-tall-warehouse-forklift picked it up and put it in the bay.

      When an order came in, bot-warehouse-lifts grabbed the appropriate pallets, put them on conveyor belt, machine automatically switched the expensive plastic pallet for a wooden one, and then queued them up at the warehouse dock, for a human lift driver to load them in the semi (lorry).

      True irony - the same plant, at the same time, was using a central VAX for critical data collection, as a backup for dot-matrix printers on the various machines. A highly-regulated industry, where having records of manufacturing batches from 10 years ago was a requirement.

  10. codejunky Silver badge

    Cool

    "exciting warehouse managers across the nation and absolutely nobody else."

    Really? Surely all those people moaning at that low pay, hard job, want to unionise would be happy to know they could break from the drudgery as a robot does the job instead? Customers should be happy to get stuff cheaper or without price increases to cover increasing wages and worker costs.

    Roll on the machine.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Cool

      If all those people doing low paid "drudge" jobs could move on, they'd have already done so and the likes of Amazon would have to pay more and offer better conditions to fill all those the vacancies.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Cool

        @John Brown (no body)

        "If all those people doing low paid "drudge" jobs could move on, they'd have already done"

        Are you honestly claiming the people working in the amazon warehouse couldnt work anywhere else if the job was automated? That it is such highly specialised work they wouldnt be able to do something else?

        The issue of course is not being able to do it at a higher wage. Like Mc jobs being automated because the staff want more money than their production is valued.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Cool

          "Are you honestly claiming the people working in the amazon warehouse couldnt work anywhere else if the job was automated? That it is such highly specialised work they wouldnt be able to do something else?"

          No, I'm saying if there were better alternatives, they'd have already moved on. Clearly either people like working for Amazon or there or no/not enough alternatives for them to be able to pick and choose where they work. Would you stay in a job you either don't like or don't feel you get paid enough for if there was a better option?

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Cool

            @John Brown (no body)

            "Would you stay in a job you either don't like or don't feel you get paid enough for if there was a better option?"

            No, thats why I did that job while studying and then moved into work I actually wanted to do. I left behind plenty people who didnt like the job but stayed because they were too lazy to leave. I also saw people leave to go on benefits because it paid more than the couple of days a week at the crap job but required less effort. Everyone is different.

            "No, I'm saying if there were better alternatives, they'd have already moved on."

            So they are doing the best job they can get for now. And my comment starting this thread suggested people who didnt like the job or didnt feel they were compensated enough for doing it should be happy for this job to be automated away, which they wont because as you say its probably the best they got.

            "Clearly either people like working for Amazon or there or no/not enough alternatives for them to be able to pick and choose where they work."

            Why does it mean there isnt enough alternatives? Even if there are more alternatives it doesnt mean the value of the work increases. They could obviously work in other places, so it sounds like the value of the work, not the employer, as the issue.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No specs on the Boston Dynamics page

    I'm a bit surprised that the BD page about it has no facts at all. Maximum load capacity? Number of cases per minute? etc etc

  12. macjules
    Terminator

    I for one welcome our robotic overlords

    I am already booked in for my AC adaptor implant which will undoubtedly be installed with the next COVID-19 vaccination.

  13. Adair Silver badge

    Sad ...

    that over the last few hundred years all we have actually been doing is attempting to recreate the slave based economy. You know, that economy that served the 'winners' so well for thousands of years of human history, until it didn't. If memory serves almost all slave based economies/societies end up collapsing, usually in a welter of grotesque inhumanity and corruption. Ideally Amazon, et al, should not have to pay their meat based labour force anything, but enough calories to keep working. Robots are an attractive alternative, especially if the cost of unemployment can be handed off to gullible and greedy governments. Although the problem remains: what to do about the idle scum who have no purchasing power worth talking about. War has always been an attractive option.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Sad ...

      "Robots are an attractive alternative, especially if the cost of unemployment can be handed off to gullible and greedy governments."

      Hi, local governments, Amazon here, we want to build some new warehouses, who's going to give us the best tax breaks to locate in your town/city/county?

      Local governments: What's in it for us? How many long term jobs will you be creating?

      Amazon: Jobs? What jobs? You mean like for actual living people?

  14. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Joke

    an automaton that can do kung fu

    > an automaton that can do kung fu

    This, if true, would put the robots on a par with the average parcel delivery company worker who is adept at kick-boxing. Quite often you see them on secret CCTV camera footage practicing kicking boxes around.

  15. Aladdin Sane
    Coat

    Does anybody know a Butler who works in an Amazon warehouse? Are stillsuits a thing yet?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      No, but there might be a Buttle. Or was that Tuttle?

      (Alternatively, insert Blakey joke here)

  16. Efer Brick

    Bezos and (Call me)-Kenneth

    "Made" for each other

  17. Chris 211

    Not much of a demonstration with lightweight evenly pre-stacked boxes of the same size and shape. Wait till the robot has to tackle what Bob from doesntcare lobbed into the back of a delivery truck. Most boxes with anything of any weight in cant support its own weight. Just try picking up a Cisco 9500 switch box by the handle for any length of time and watch it buckle.

  18. Robin Bradshaw

    How do they cut the shrink wrap off the pallets?

    How do they move and stack the empty pallets?

    And who cleans up when the bottom of the box givesway and dumps the contents on the floor?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bezos will be salivating at this

    Then he'll be able to 'let go' all those pesky humans that need comfort breaks and could even vote to join a union. He won't like that one little bit so the sooner his sweatshops can be devoid of humans the better and the quicker his net worth can exceed $1T. Yes, that's one trillion dollars. That is more than the GDP of 60% of the countries in the world.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Bezos will be salivating at this

      @AC

      "his net worth can exceed $1T. Yes, that's one trillion dollars. That is more than the GDP of 60% of the countries in the world."

      So his total wealth would be equivalent to the money passing through 60% of the economies in the world each year. Noting his net worth is calculated on assets he hasnt traded for money and if he did would fall in value.

  20. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
    Headmaster

    specter et al

    the specter of unionized

    --

    I think that may be a "spectre" as opposed to an (in)specter or "inspector" as in Clouseau...

  21. Snowy Silver badge
    Megaphone

    This time it is different.

    The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSKi8HfcxEk

  22. Blackjack Silver badge

    Robots did indeed take ours jobs.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022