The dystopian oppression of the Amazon work grind only gets worse. Recent years have seen reports of workers urinating in bottles, forced destruction of unsold items, and generally “gruelling conditions”. However, the company's once human-led oppression is reportedly being computerised through software such as Amazon AI delivery monitoring.
Amazon AI delivery programs are making work Hell
Reported by Motherboard, artificial intelligence is now penalising Amazon's delivery drivers for issues that are not their fault. Introduced in early 2021, Amazon vans are equipped with AI-powered cameras designed to judge drivers.
The AI delivery monitoring software constantly checks what the driver is doing. Amazon's software punishes drivers for checking side mirrors, “fiddling with the radio” or getting cut off by other vehicles.
If an "event" is registered, points are docked from a driver’s weekly score. Additionally, a “dark” robotic voice will shout at the driver to tell them they're driving badly.
Essentially, Amazon is using the AI to gamify delivery. Those who are lucky enough to be able to follow the program's specific instructions are rewarded. However, those who are penalised — even when it's not their fault — miss out on bonuses they're used to receiving.
The Dystopia Thickens
An anonymous Amazon delivery driver spoke to Motherboard about the effects Amazon's AI have on drivers. Referred to as Derek, the L.A. driver explained that every journey is an upsetting event as the system blames him for things outside of his control.
“Every time I need to make a right-hand turn, it inevitably happens. A car cuts me off to move into my lane, and the camera, in this really dystopian dark, robotic voice, shouts at me. It's so disconcerting. It’s upsetting, when I didn't do anything.”
The Amazon AI delivery monitoring system is supposed to take footage of events to prove their legitimacy. In response, Derek has repeatedly asked for proof of wrongdoing, but has never received it. He continued:
“When I get my score each week, I ask my company to tell me what I did wrong. My [delivery company] will email Amazon and cc' me, and say, ‘Hey we have [drivers] who'd like to see the photos flagged as events, but they don't respond. There's no room for discussion around the possibility that maybe the camera's data isn't clean.”
As a result of constant false positives, drivers reportedly earn less while being distracted more. Another driver said it's “nothing but a nightmare” as every move is now watched and judged, mostly unfairly. Amazon has told Motherboard that events are manually reviewed, but is that really the case?