In the future...
These might be known as Amazon's halcyon days between hiring workers who complain and robots with AI who complain.
Amazon unveiled its first "fully autonomous mobile robot" and other machines designed to operate alongside human workers at its warehouses. In 2012 the e-commerce giant acquired Kiva Systems, a robotics startup, for $775 million. Now, following on from that, Amazon has revealed multiple prototypes powered by AI and computer- …
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Sound like they'll expect staff to just stand bolt upright all day, not moving at all. That won't be better for peoples bodies than doing the same twisting and bending motions all day.
What would be better was if staff were able to move in lots of different ways, lifting to different heights and working in different positions.
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firing the laser to vaporize at Low (rodent), Medium (slow-moving employee)
You obviously have no management experience. You don't vaporize slow moving employees, you just zap them hard enough so the pain makes them move more quickly but without creating so much pain they are unable to move more quickly. Would be the best management tool for employee motivation since the bullwhip was banned.
The trick is tuning how hard to hit each employee with the laser, since different people have different pain tolerances. Fortunately Amazon has Alexa, its AI technology using machine learning adjusting the amount of zap could over time insure each employee gets the optimal amount of pain to get the fastest work performance they are capable of.
When it all gets too much for them and they become immune to the motivational use of lasers, THAT'S when you vaporize them.
You can trust me, I have an MBA.
You are absolutely right about modern management's "motivational," limits-pushing, stepwise torture, AKA "Workforce Management" ("WFM"):
"Your agonizer, please." — Evil Mr. Spock [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIee7DIDL-8&t=94]
However, Amazon has always eschewed prolonged engagement:
once believed insists that Amazon's low-skill worker churn was is a good thing The Final Solution, as a long-term workforce would mean a 'march to mediocrity.' cohere and fight back en masse successfully." ("Amazon Fears It Could Run Out of U.S. Warehouse Workers by 2024" [https://www.theregister.com/2022/06/22/amazon_labor_pool_shortage/])
Carrot ► Stick ► Knife ► Next!
"Terror must be maintained, or the empire is doomed." — Evil Mr. Spock
absolutely, by 100%! Also, in a by- or end-process, reduce the risk of litigation, compensation, bad-PR, never mind piss-breaks, pregnancy-breaks and STRIKES, that have been the bane of any true capitalist and business owner since day one. The ultimate victory is near, comrade-capitalists, just one more push and we'll be there!
Trade unions: there's this cloud-based firmware patch...
"Speculation was rampant that Amazon was replacing people with robots …"
Well it's better than treating people like robots, I suppose.
As elsergiovolador says above who will they sell all this stuff to if no-one has a job?
And no, even with robots working in those warehouses, I still won't do business with Amazon.
"As elsergiovolador says above who will they sell all this stuff to if no-one has a job?"
If amazon relies on its own staff to buy its products to stay in business it will certainly fail. Just as automation has improved agriculture and manufacturing this is just another improvement which benefits us all. Especially those who are mistreated working the job.
There does though need to be productive enjoyable work for people we don't want to pay to sit at home, so all those farm labourers, factory workers and warehouse staff need other opportunities opening to them.
We can't all be computer programmers, so where's the niche for people currently filling all the roles being automated.
The invention of the tractor allowed the creation of the NHS.
When you have 80% of the population scraping a living out of the dirt, you don't have any population surplus for a mass healthcare service, or anything else of modern comfortable society. Reducing the amount of human labour needed in mundane tasks releases that human labour for more valuable tasks, even if those more valuable tasks are cleaning people's bums and lifting them in and out of bed. We can afford to have armies of skivvies feeding Grandma her gruel, in the indoors out of the rain, because that army of skivvies isn't toiling away in the fields instead, outside, getting rained and snowed on.
I see a certain correlation between A1 and A2. But as a bleeding remainer, who can't stop harping on the subject, I see a certain poetic justice here - sooner or later, British population WILL be paid higher wages, which will then be passed on to the end products, for which British population WILL pay higher prices (on top of higher prices on account of Putin's war and energy sources deficiency, post-covid, supply-chain link disruption, opportunity for extra mark-up in the supply chain disruption, etc. Goes round, comes round.
It's odd how people praise technology for realising people from the mundane, but whine like a 2 year old when their nicely paid job gets offloaded to a bot or another country.
And yes it does help and saved millions, but it's easy to forget all those millions and millions that died due to "progress".
Disease became rampant in the cities due to poor sanitation, poor working and cramped living conditions. Millions were injured or died through industrial accidents.
Unless there is a safety net, poverty and its associated issues could become rampant.
"It's odd how people praise technology for realising people from the mundane, but whine like a 2 year old when their nicely paid job gets offloaded to a bot or another country."
Why? Both make perfect sense. The short termism and (understandably) selfish desire not to change vs the overall benefit that improves peoples lives? Just as luddites loo concerned about their self interest but the advancements making everyone better off.
"And yes it does help and saved millions, but it's easy to forget all those millions and millions that died due to "progress"."
Or died due to lack of progress. Which is visible around the world in the poorer countries.
"Disease became rampant in the cities due to poor sanitation, poor working and cramped living conditions. Millions were injured or died through industrial accidents."
Just like slums of peasants who are in absolute poverty instead of relatively comfortable relative poverty. The freeing up of labour so people could actually train to be medical professionals, construction professionals and so on which alleviated those very problems. And providing enough free time for people to volunteer to go drill a well for those absolutely poor in the world.
"Unless there is a safety net, poverty and its associated issues could become rampant."
A safety net that cannot actually exist at all full stop without exception unless there is sufficient advancement to make people rich enough to provide a safety net. Otherwise all those actually poor people could be saved at the flick of a wand.
Cardinal robot has upper limits on weight and size of objects it can cope with.
So that will mean the humans will disproportionately have to deal with bulkier and heavier packages - precisely the ones more likely to cause injury problems, especially if working in a time pressured job, as recommended manual handling techniques for bulky / heavy items tend to be slower than more more health risk handling methods so chances of inappropriate techniques used... and even recommended methods not risk free, a lot depends on strength, coordination & flexibility of the worker (and in real world often age as those tend to have age related deterioration)
Good point! If the human has to move, say, 50 objects per hour of varying and random sizes across the bell curse, with Cardinal, the meatsack will now have to move primarily the stuff at the ends of the bell curve, ie the smallest, most fiddly and the largest, most bulky. But will the per hour targets change to match? Probably not based on what we know of Amazon.
The problem is it's only six inches tall and human's eyes are about five feet above the ground. Humans navigate on autopilot by subcounciously scanning stuff at eye level with the subcouncious trained-by-experience that there will be nothing to trip over if the eye level is not blocked. These things will be a damn danger. People'll be tripping over them all the time as there's no eye-level warning that they're there. Just like bloody rugrats and yappy mutts that careen through your feet with no visible indication they're there. Human workers will be have to counciously force themselves to unlearn their toddlerhood and force themselves off autopilot and have to forever look at their feet to check they're not about to trip up.
I'm pretty sure a robot that has a fricking bright green LED beaming out the front of it is very unlikely to 'sneak up' out of nowhere.
Not to mention its robotic voice broadcasting "Out of my way meatbag scum, I have more important things to do for the great Bezos overlord than wait for your sorry arse to move. Go piss in a bottle..."
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"subcounciously scanning stuff at eye level "
Kerbs are below your specified height of "eye level" Do you trip and fall every time you cross the road?
Look before you leap. Watch your step. Those, and similar sayings have probably existed in one form or another since the time when language was barely grunts and growls. Otherwise people would be constantly tripping and falling both inside the house and, more especially, every time they went outside.
So if Amazon replaces all of their complaining, low-paid, over-worked warehouse staff with robots, that's a win, right? Those former Amazon employees can then move on to their next career goal on their path to the C-suite, and Amazon no longer gets all the bad press for being a shoddy employer. Yeah, sounds like a win-win.
Lets hope Amazon have learnt from the mistakes of others. Ocado in Andover had robots doing the picking. One robot had a battery fault (depression?) and caught fire, the robot then proceeded to carry on picking while it was alight, spreading the fire around the warehouse. I think a number of fire services were involved putting that one out (before it caused the amonia tanks on the roof to explode). Whole warehouse was a right off.
An employee with a bad back back or muscle strain is unlikely to set the whole warehouse on fire.
Warehouses staffed by robots have been in development for years so its about time that they were fully deployed. Amazon's not the only company doing this, either. The attraction is that the robots are faster, they take up less space between racks and they don't tire. They also don't need warehouses that are lit or heated/cooled just to keep the wetware happy. The kind of problems that they cause, though, are that if they drop things they're slow to recognize that this has happened and often can't pick them up (its the little things....).
Ultimately the fully automated factory is doomed for the simple reason that if you don't have a place where people can work and earn money they they won't be able to spend that money buying the products that your factory or warehouse works with. This was figured out over a century ago by Henry Ford. Ultimately we can't all become overpaid bureaucrats, much as we'd like to be.
The first section I agree. However-
"Ultimately the fully automated factory is doomed for the simple reason that if you don't have a place where people can work and earn money they they won't be able to spend that money buying the products that your factory or warehouse works with. This was figured out over a century ago by Henry Ford."
That doesnt work. If your business can only survive by your staff buying your product you will lose money and collapse. There is no way for that to work as the staff buy most of their products and services outside your business and for a car infrequently. When the job stops existing people go do other things. Make other products and provide other services.
"Warehouses staffed by robots have been in development for years"
A facility I worked at in around 2005 had a fully automated warehouse - a bot picked up a completed pallet from a production area, drove through a barcode scanner to identify it, and another bot put it on the (10 stories high) warehouse racks. When a truck arrived, the operator would tell the system how many pallets of what products were desired, and the bots would go get them (following FIFO queue rules), a machine would swap the expensive plastic pallets for cheap wood ones, and rack them up at the loading dock. (Where a human would load the truck.)
The innovation here seems to be not doing this on pallet-scale, but individual box-scale with varying size boxes. Which, to be fair, is a much harder problem.
"Will this lead to lower prices?"
Probably. The UK Arts & Crafts Movement eschewed mass production. The paradox was that their hand-crafted designs were very nice artisan products - but only the well-off could afford to buy them
Eventually good design was combined with mass production to produce products that most people could afford to buy. eg Wall paper produced by a person repeatedly stamping a pattern with a woodblock - or powered printing rollers churning it out with precision.
but WHO said it's about 'lower prices'?! It's about 'lower, lower, LOW costs and higher, higher, HIGHER output'. And people who ask the bleeding obvious question (who's going to buy your shit if all the jobs get outomated and all the people are out of the jobs) - they're missing the point. Amazon is in the game of musical chairs, and they're sitting in any chair they chose, because - for now - most of the chairs are empty.
I bet they'll also reserve as many of those empty chairs, later to rent them as a service, if financially viable. And if not financially viable, they'll enter the business of finance to make it financially viable.