While reading about Bezos and his acquisition of Avalon books, I came across a story I somehow missed, although how, I can’t imagine, since it involves robots. Amazon bought Kiva Systems, an company who makes giant orange machines that scuttle around warehouses fulfilling the millions of orders you, and I, well, you–make. Wow! Bezos must have, um peed his pants when he realized he could eliminate those pesky people who demand trips to bathrooms, breaks, and working in temperatures not exceeding 150 degrees. Just think about it! No more baiting humans into taking exhausting jobs hopping like rabbits around a closed warehouse with no fans or air conditioning, with the promise of a permanent position down the line, only to dismiss them after using them up like tissue paper, forcing them to try making increasingly unattainable goals. A dream come true for the sociopathic mind who cares only for one individual, and that individual is himself. I can imagine one of these little orange fellows getting struck with a virus forcing it to play bumper cars with all of its peers; read more on antivirus software here…
Am I comparing an upstanding businessman to a sociopath? Uh, yes. Not the kind that kills animals in their youth and start mutilating people as an adult. The kind that are megalomaniacs so focused on success that anyone or thing in their way is eliminated. With brutal tactics, not violence. I was perusing an extremely interesting book about sociopaths and learned startling things that most of us are unaware. Essentially, that there are tons of these people within society without police records or violent behavior but who lack empathy. Human emotions. They cannot feel. And we Americans tend to idolize this type of person because they represent the hard assed go getter, the tough innovator who works their way up the American Dream and into something along the lines of Trump Plaza. When you really think about it, how do the shakers and movers get to start shaking? How do they, among billions, manage to gather so much power, they rule little fiefdoms? The book pointed out all the character traits, or lack thereof, that defines someone whose only goal in life is to ‘win’. Where have I heard that expression before? Oh yeah, uttered from the lips of a bastion of society, the ‘actor’, Charlie Sheen. Nothing sociopathic about his behavior.
So why defame the leader of the book world in this fashion? Because I still can, at least I think so, free speech has not yet been yanked off the OK to do list. Do I honestly believe that Mr. Bezos lacks empathy and human caring? I don’t know the man personally, so I can’t speak from experience, and anyway, sociopaths spend their spare time studying others in order to mimic emotions in a believable way. I don’t know if the man is unfeeling in life in everything. But his past record regarding workers in his warehouses leads me to believe, if not a total sociopath, then he is a deeply flawed human in terms of understanding that you don’t keep humans stuck in an oven for hours and the only response to those who faint is to have an ambulance stand by to take them away. Naturally, with points taken off their performance record for missing half a day’s work. Did he create this little business strategy? If not, he should have pulled the plug on it the moment the situation was brought to his attention. Amazon only acted when the overseer of such work related things had been contacted and a complaint issued.
Well, now his lack of empathy will no longer be an issue, at least in the warehouse workforce, because that workforce will mechanically soldier on in the greatest of heat, the worse working conditions, without the need to be treated with humanity, since they won’t be human.
Here’s the nub. An entire warehouse full of robots costs a mere 15 to 20 million to set up. What do you want to bet, if high temperatures adversely affect the robot’s wheels and cogs and innards, air conditioners, fans, even huge blocks of ice would be instantly hauled over to the suffering metal monoliths. Because one thing Mr. Bezos has great feeling for, is losing a buck, and he’d be losing large chunks if his army of red go down due to unhealthy conditions.