In the last year, Amazon has dramatically increased employment of robots, going from 30,000 robots in 2015 to 45,000 in 2016.
When Amazon acquired Kiva Systems for $775 million in 2012, they immediately began implementing the squat automatons into their network of massive warehouses. The 16 inch, 320 lb. machines can carry more than twice their own weight and have taken over a sizable chunk of transport and packing tasks.
For now, the increase in robotic employment at Amazon is only outpacing actual people by a narrow margin — 50%, as opposed to 46% more humans, according to The Seattle Times. Human awareness and dexterity still prevent us from becoming a redundant part of these processes… for now, as white collar insurance claims agents are being replaced with AI and the development of self-healing synthetic muscle that could make robots as graceful as any person.
Amazon is perhaps the biggest company leading the charge toward an automated workforce, in the process of hashing out ideas that range from drone delivery services to the flying motherships that could someday house them.
According to Amazon Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky, “[Amazon has] changed, again, the automation, the size, the scale many times, and we continue to learn and grow there.” They’re already running an Amazon storefront without a single cashier, and their latest corporate campus in Seattle is being built inside of biospheres.
We’re constantly seeing news about Amazon’s relentless march into new territory, and the pace continues to increase. I’m not sure whether to buy stock, or build a fallout shelter. Just to be sure, maybe I’ll ask Watson.
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