Technology 2 min read

Amazon Uses AI To Fire Low-Productivity Workers

Quality Stock Arts /

Quality Stock Arts /

Imagine a grim future where you not only have to answer to a workplace AI, but the machine can literally take your job if you’re underperforming.

Sounds very futuristic, right? No – not really: it’s already happening.

News website, The Verge, obtained a document which reveals that Amazon used a computer system to track and dismiss employees automatically. The boss machine reportedly fired hundreds of fulfillment center workers for not meeting a productivity quota.

However, the AI  system is not responsible for the entire decision-making process.

The obtained document, which includes a signed letter by an Amazon attorney, described how the automated system works.

The letter, as quoted by The Verge, reads; 

“Amazon’s system tracks the rates of each associate’s productivity, and automatically generates any warnings or terminations regarding quality or productivity without input from supervisors.”

Within hours of running the story, Amazon’s spokesperson, Ashley Robinson, released a statement in response to The Verge’s reporting.

According to Robinson, Amazon, like other companies have performance expectations.

Although a couple of employees don’t always reach the levels expected, the company’s policy is not to first dismiss. Instead, it reportedly nurtures and supports such workers to attain their goals.

In a statement to the press, Ashley Robinson said; 

“Since we’re a company that continues to grow, it’s our business objective to ensure long-term career development opportunities for our employees.”

With that said, the spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied the existence of the boss AI.

Amazon’s History With Automated Systems

Amazon has been incorporating automation systems into its fulfillment centers for years. Not only are warehouse robots taking old jobs, but the machines are also creating new ones.

According to various reports, working conditions at the world’s biggest online retailer are terrible. Writing for the Guardian last year, an anonymous employee said; “through the use of digital trackers and indicators, our workday is managed down to the second.”

As shocking as that was at the time, the automated tracking and firing system is worse.

“One of the things that we hear consistently from workers is that they are treated like robots…because they’re monitored and supervised by these automated systems,” Amazon critic Stacy Mitchell told The Verge.

It’s unclear whether Amazon is still using the AI system.

Read More: Amazon Web Service: The World’s Largest Landlord in Cyberspace

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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