The world’s largest electronic commerce company, Amazon, has recently become a target of intense criticism.
On September 5, Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ro Khanna introduced a bill meant to tax companies like Amazon for the cost of employees’ food stamps and other public assistance. As the Verge reported, Sanders’ Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act, abbreviated Stop BEZOS, is a blatant dig at Amazon owner and the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, who is becoming infamous for mistreating his workers.
Apart from being under intense scrutiny for mistreating workers, Amazon has, as the Inquisitr previously reported, been criticized for government-enabled tax evasion.
“For states contemplating tax incentives for Amazon, the salient question is: what do you give a tax avoider who already has everything?,” Matthew Gardner, senior fellow at Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, asked, after explaining how Amazon managed to make more than $5 billion in 2017, without paying a dime of federal income taxes.
Now, as Amazon is facing intense criticism, one of its 2016 patents came to light as part of a new academic study into Amazon’s use of artificial intelligence, the Independent reports.
Study authors Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler described the patent as “an extraordinary illustration of worker alienation, a stark moment in the relationship between humans and machines.”
Meant to keep wearhouse workers “safe,” and described by Amazon as a “forward-looking technology,” the patent can be best described as a cage.
— Ted Gioia (@tedgioia) September 11, 2018
— Theo (@tprstly) September 13, 2018
“Sometimes even bad ideas get submitted for patents. This was never used and we have no plans for usage. We developed a far better solution which is a small vest associates can wear that cause all robotic drive units in their proximity to stop moving,” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of operations, defended the company via Twitter.
But, to no avail, according to the Independent, as hundreds of social media users, journalists, and activists took to social media to criticize Amazon’s cage-like patent.
In the context of Amazon’s previous efforts related to maximizing worker efficiency, the cage concept does not come as a surprise. As CNET reported in February, Amazon patented a wristband meant to track wearhouse workers’ movements.
In April, as the New York Post reported, an undercover investigator named James Bloodworth went undercover and started working for Amazon while conducting research for his latest book. Amazon’s warehouse workers are, Bloodworth said, constantly monitored, work 10-hour shifts, and forced to urinate in bottles because bathrooms are hundreds of yards away, and they fear being disciplined.
Demonstrating just how bad Amazon’s reputation has gotten is Jeff Bezos’ army of online trolls, so called “FC Ambassadors,” according to the Business Insider.