Amazon's AI Expansion
It is clear to see that Amazon has been recently investing more and more into AI, and especially robotics through their purchase of Canvas Technology last month. The acquired startup aimed to create autonomous in-warehouse transportation systems using AI, a job that humans typically did in Amazon warehouses.
The acquisition, alongside increased experimentation of drone delivery, clearly shows that Amazon is trying to revolutionise the business of home delivery, speed the likes of which have never been seen before. In certain European locations, Amazon has followed through with their ideas and bought expensive, state-of-the-art self driving carts with the hope of being able to transfer items faster across the warehouse with better path finding, lower costs and no breaks.
It is speculated that Amazon wants to lower the maximum prime delivery time in most locations from 2 to 1 days delivery, a one day difference may sound small, but it completely changes how we think about online shopping. We would no longer need to sleep before receiving something we order, like a phone, it could be delivered later in the afternoon and the whole idea of waiting for delivery becomes more and more meaningless over time.
However this move has negative sides too, Amazon known for its poor worker conditions seems to now be intent on ditching workers entirely, a move that could lower employment rates across the world, but not only that, this move hits those who are vulnerable the most. If someone can’t make ends meet, they may look for an extra job, they might try working at Amazon, if they get fired or simply can’t get the job, then it means they may be locked out of the job market completely since other jobs might require a degree they don’t have.
Famous studies about AI-caused unemployment have been carried out as the issue is becoming more and more culturally prominent, the World Economic Forum estimated that a whopping 75 million jobs could be cut down by the rise of faster, smarter, cheaper AI.
Amazon claims that there have been no job losses in the European facilities in which robots were introduced due to artificial intelligence, but this claim may not hold as Amazon pushes harder and harder to automate everything so it can be cheaper, faster and smarter. On the flip side, this may be the answer to a common dystopian theme.
Being worked to death by monotonous jobs is a common sci-fi dystopian theme and in some cases a real life scenario too, however with the rise of AI, the theorised future of humans working their days away in small, isolated cubicles becomes a more and more distant reality, as it is likely those jobs will be automated, but what matters more is how governments deal with the permanently changed job market afterwards.