Forget Killer Robots, These Robots Will Fire You!
How many times have you been fired? Remember the old days, when someone worked at a job and retired after working at the same place for 30 or 40 years? Have you ever had to fire someone?It's not a comfortable experience for either the person letting someone go or the one who gets the boot. Remember the George Clooney movie Up in the Air? Clooney played a professional who traveled the country firing people. Yes, that was his profession!
Nobody likes getting fired. What could be worse? How about being fired by artificial intelligence?The system Amazon uses to track the company's warehouse personnel can allegedly also automatically terminate their employment. More salt in the wounds for what critics say are unpleasant working conditions.
In documents recently obtained by The Verge, the publication says Amazon's automatic tracking of how many boxes workers fill and how quickly they fill them also generates performance based warnings and even pink slips. Management can override the terminations but it isn't clear how often that occurs. The report continues, saying between Fall 2017 and 2018, nearly 300 full-time employees where shown the 'automatic' door.
An Amazon spokesperson offered the following statement.
“It is absolutely not true that employees are terminated through an automatic system. We would never dismiss an employee without first ensuring that they had received our fullest support, including dedicated coaching to help them improve and additional training. Since we’re a company that continues to grow, it’s our business objective to ensure long-term career development opportunities for our employees. Similar to many companies, we have performance expectations regardless of whether they are corporate or fulfillment center employees. We support people who do not perform to the levels expected of them with dedicated coaching to help them improve and be successful in their career at Amazon.” - Amazon spokesperson
Amazon has been the subject of recent criticism from many of the major Democratic Candidates for alleged unfair monopolistic practices. The company, the world's most profitable, has also been the subject of investigative articles by the New York Times detailing exploitative work conditions for its workers.