The first humanoid robots take service at Amazon: jobs at risk?


By John

Amazon’s first tests are underway in Seattle on its new humanoid robot prototype. Digit can move, grab and manipulate items in the spaces and corners of a warehouse. It is a new model, created in collaboration with Agility Robotics, which would join the over 750 thousand robots at work in the company’s operations. The company envisions using Digit, which has two legs, two arms and glowing eyes, initially to pick up containers after they’ve been emptied.

Amazon’s chief technologist, Tye Brady, guarantees that robots are designed above all to be used «as tools that extend the capabilities of our workforce, not to replace it», the goal would be to make the work experience of employees « better, simpler and less repetitive.” Even in the long term, Brady says he envisions a fully robotic, unmanned logistics center. After the presentation of Digit, however, there was alarm about the possible impact on work, particularly on the British media.

The Guardian reports fears of layoffs among the group’s 1.5 million employees. The Sun speaks of the risk of ‘job-pocalypses’, a work apocalypse, and recalls the announcement by the telecommunications group BT that it will replace over 10,000 workers with artificial intelligence by the end of the decade. While the BBC quotes a trade unionist from the British GMB, Stuart Richards, who describes Amazon’s automation as a “headlong race towards job losses” with hundreds of jobs already disappearing in logistics centres.

Amazon, on the other hand, claims that, over the past decade, the growth of automation has been accompanied by hundreds of thousands of hires and the emergence of more than 700 categories of new types of skilled jobs that did not previously exist in the company. Additionally, accident rates were 15% lower at the company’s robotic logistics sites in 2022 compared to non-robotic ones in 2022. In addition to Digit, Amazon unveiled another innovative robot, Sequoia, which transforms the way products are stored and inventory is managed by the company. Sequoia allows you to identify and put away products 75% faster and fulfill orders by cutting time by 25% and is already operational in Houston, Texas.