My boss informed me that another employee was replacing me. The new employee was far better then me and would never take a day off. The new employee would never fall sick, never ask for overtime pay, and had nothing to do with the union. The new employee would not waste time near the water cooler socializing with other employees and would never waste time on Facebook. The new employee would never get stressed out, or have a nervous breakdown. The new employee would never get tired and will work tirelessly forever. Most importantly, the new employee will never get injured and sue the company for compensation.
Meet 1557. The new employee is a robot. This robot just replaced me in the warehouse today. This is the reality.
Amazon acquired Kiva Systems for 775 million. Kiva Systems makes robots for moving items in large warehouses. The task that was performed by humans will now be taken over by robots. All the fulfillment centers will implement the robotic systems designed by Kiva Systems as Amazon strives to be more efficient in this tough economy. Here is a really cool video about how these robots work independently in a warehouse.
Foxconn International Group – the company that manufactures smartphones for Apple and other companies – also plans to implement robotic systems to replace humans. This would resolve employee complaints of repetitive stress injury and employee suicides due to high stress.
Amazon has set a dangerous precedent that gives rise to critical questions:
- Reliability – can we rely on untested technology that has not been around for long?
- Security – how do we ensure that unauthorized users don’t take control of robots and wreak havoc?
- Failsafe – what are the chances of Artificial Intelligence taking control of multiple robots? Is there a failsafe?
- Ethical Issues – is it right to replace humans with robots? First, it was outsourcing, and then came the deadly recession, and now there is competition with Robots? It is obviously impossible for humans to compete with robots.
It would be disastrous if the software in robotic systems gets corrupted or is taken over by malware. Moreover, if Artificial Intelligence takes over the robots, we are doomed! How do you fight an army of robots running berserk in the city? I just hope there is a Deep Freeze for Robots soon – we could just reboot the robots!