Pandemics intensify robotization of people


Too bad we already knew that…

Pandemics intensify robotization of people /img/amazon-like-manna.jpg

Thirty months ago, I observed that maybe there is still not enough awareness, and concern, about “software creating jobs that only a robot would be happy, and fit, to do”, and, more in general, about humans becoming robots, rather than being displaced by them.

The COVID-19 pandemic that is locking down many countries shows how right I was. COVID-19 has, among other things, “exposed how far we are from robotic warehouses”, that is how much those warehouse still need humans acting like robots:

“as part of its effort to keep its warehouses fully staffed during the crisis, Amazon recently announced that it is ending its recently-instituted sick leave and base pay expansions, replacing both with increased overtime pay. While higher pay encourages more workers to apply for jobs, overtime incentivizes existing workers to work longer hours. Amazon’s strategy for increasing output in the pandemic seems to be getting its human employees to work harder.”

This further confirmation of what I wrote in 2017 continues here, with conclusions left as exercise for the reader. Here, I only want to point out the parallel between this story, and another at the center of public interest in these weeks.

What we have here seems a story of how Amazon (or its fans, I don’t know) expected that digital solutions could make it do more, with much less people, even in hard times, and of how the pandemic proved it wrong (for now). But this is the same thing that seems to be happening now with digital contact tracing. Interesting, isn’t it?

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