Amazon’s robotic workforce could doom the American worker

The year is 2030. Most humans have been replaced by machines in American warehouses and factories. Millions of Americans are out of work and struggling to find jobs as robots pack, sort, ship and perform the myriad tasks that just a decade ago fell to living, breathing workers. There are few job prospects for these workers because automating has completely taken over many industries.

As fictional as it sounds, it’s not a scene from a sci-fi novel, but rather a scenario that could happen in the very near future. Take, for example, Amazon’s recent launch of protea — the company’s first fully autonomous mobile robot. This should signal that much of the company’s workforce is at risk of extinction from automation in the years to come.

Despite the fact that it is inevitable that all industries adopt some type of automating To improve productivity and profitability, it’s important that lawmakers take action now to protect the human workforce before tech giants like Amazon begin to eliminate them.

Amazon certainly has plenty of reasons to replace its human workforce with automated machines.

For example, there are rumors that Amazon is concerned it could run out of workers to hire for its US warehouses by 2024, jeopardizing the tech giant’s service quality and growth plans, creating further incentive to embrace robot capabilities. Labor shortages would be a thing of the past.

The tech giant, which is used to taking advantage of glaring tax loopholes, can even use bots to game the system. For instance, research and development expenses, a category that investments in automation could fall into, are deductible and eligible for capital expenditure tax credits. Meanwhile, only certain types of investments in human capital are tax deductible.

Caring only about business results, Amazon has plenty of other reasons to move to full automation; robots can’t unionizeThey do not understand injured and demand workers compensation, they don’t need air conditioning, and they never go to the managers and demand better labor conditions.

While no one other than Amazon’s corporate executives fully knows the reason for the company’s rapid shift to robotics, it can be argued that recent efforts by workers to unionize have played a significant role. The company has threatened to withhold benefits and wages from employees who support union efforts, has fired pro-union workers and is attempting to to spill the victory of the Staten Island Warehouse Union.

Amazon is also known for its high injury rates among the employees. In 2021 alone, 34,000 serious injuries were reported at work at Amazon, leading to many negative press. The company has made it difficult for injured workers to get compensation or time off, private disabled and pregnant employees reasonable accommodation, and has even fired workers who have raised concerns about inadequate protections.

It would be easy to dismiss this shift to robotics as a problem for just one company – despite employing Amazon one in 153 Americans — but experts think automation could destroy up to 73 million jobs in the United States by 2030.

With the threat of millions of Americans being forced out of their jobs due to automation, lawmakers in Washington must act immediately to protect the livelihoods of their constituents and the future of the American worker.

One step elected officials could take is to pass a so-called “robot tax,” which would force companies to pay a fee each time they replace a human worker with an automated machine. Such a tax would not only make businesses think twice about replacing their human workforce, but the revenue from the tax could also fund worker upskilling or retraining programs.

Lawmakers could also learn from how the government handles environmental protections and require companies bidding for contracts to submit an impact assessment outlining which jobs robotics could eliminate, the types and number of jobs. that could be created by the proposed project and a recycling plan. workers who are directly affected by the use of robots.

Amazon and other companies shouldn’t be blamed for wanting to transition to a robotic workforce, as all companies are tempted to cut expenses and improve revenue. But it’s important to recognize the potential threat these technologies pose to the U.S. labor market and, in particular, to 1.1 million Amazon employees in the United States, we need to implement policies that deter tech companies from suddenly shifting to automation, which could eliminate the livelihoods of millions of people.

The full adoption of a robotic workforce is no longer confined to the realm of science fiction and if we are to prevent the rise of machines from completely taking over industries, we must confront this reality before let it not be too late.

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Michael A. Bynum