Amazon Warehouse Computer Can Fire People Now

It has been reported that Amazon's warehouse tracking system can automatically fire employees for poor performance.

Amazon’s demanding culture of worker productivity has been revealed in multiple investigations. But a new report indicates that the company doesn’t just track worker productivity at its warehouses – it also has a system that can automatically fire them.

Amazon has fired more than 300 workers, citing productivity, at a single facility in Baltimore in a single year (August 2017 through September 2018), The Verge’s Colin Lecher reported. The Verge cited a letter by an Amazon attorney as part of a case with the National Labour Relations Board.

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider, “Approximately 300 employees turned over in Baltimore related to productivity in this timeframe. In general, the number of employee terminations have decreased over the last two years at this facility as well as across North America.”

This was beautifully predicted in Marshall Brain's online story Manna, about a computer system and software developed to run small businesses:

Once Burger-G proved that Manna worked, the idea spread like wildfire. Every restaurant chain used Manna. Every retail store, whether it was a discount store, a home improvement store, a toy store, or an office supply store, had Manna systems. You saw people wearing headsets on construction sites, in airports, at amusement parks, in hospitals, in movie theaters, at the grocery store... They were everywhere.

I can remember sitting down one day with my friend Brian at lunch. He was working at the giant discount supercenter in Raleigh, and they had just switched over to Manna. He was stunned.

"It doesn't matter if you are a hard worker or a slacker -- once you put on the headset, you are going to be working every minute of the day or you are gone. The system has already fired five people."

"What's it have you do all day?" There were something like 50 people working in the supercenter at any given time -- it was a 200,000 square foot store.

"Manna has you moving through the store aisle by aisle. I bet I am walking six or eight miles a day right now. I am constantly straightening merchandise on the shelves. Manna knows where I am, and it knows where everything is on the shelves, so it asks me item by item to straighten them. Manna wants everything on the shelves looking perfect. It is also big on restocking. So it will ask me, 'How many rolls of masking tape are on the shelf?' Whenever anything gets low, it has me go to the back and bring stuff out to the shelves. It knows what is selling through the cash registers, so it knows exactly when to restock everything and it makes sure that every single item in the store is fully stocked."

"That doesn't sound so unusual." I said.

"It's not unusual, except that Manna is telling you exactly what to do every second of every day. If it asks you to go to the back and get merchandise, it tells you exactly where to walk to go get it....
(Read more about manna)

Via BusinessInsider and Marshall Brain's Manna

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