Amazon's delivery workers must agree to AI surveillance or risk losing their jobs, report...

Polycount

Posts: 2,850   +575
Staff member
In context: Amazon's obsession with efficiency is well-documented at this point. The tech giant does everything it can to push workers to their limits, and encourage them to work harder in the name of supporting the massive, two-day-shipping empire Amazon has created. The latest efficiency-boosting measure the company has implemented is a bit more forceful than others, though.

Since February, Amazon's delivery drivers (those working directly under the company, or for any of Amazon's partnered delivery agencies) have been working alongside new AI-powered cameras intended to track most aspects of their driving. The cameras, produced by Netradyne, look out for things like improper breaking, unsafe turns, driver drowsiness, phone usage, and more.

If Amazon detects unsafe driving, it can use in-car alerts to warn the driver that their performance is flagging. The cameras may also take photographs of the driver for security or identity verification purposes.

Unfortunately, if you're an Amazon driver (or a driver for an affiliated company) who would prefer not to be monitored so closely, you may not have a choice. The tech behemoth is asking delivery personnel to sign a "Vehicle Technology and Biometric Consent" agreement, as a "condition of delivering Amazon packages."

In other words, if you don't want to play ball, you're fired. Or, at least, can no longer deliver Amazon packages -- which probably leads to the same outcome. Vice reports that this agreement is live "nationwide," so it's unlikely that many of Amazon's 75,000 drivers will escape its grasp.

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Dimitriid

Posts: 556   +951
"Improper breaking" Wait, does this means they don't want emergency breaking or worst, that they don't want drivers slowing down 'unnecessarily'? Since this is measuring efficiency, I fear they just want drivers to be MORE reckless and cut it closer to dangerous situations if it means speeding up the deliveries...oh boy.

But yeah other than that it's sadly, common practice: most serious logistics companies measure everything a driver does down to how much gas you spent and recommend you follow their guidelines of excessive acceleration and breaking if you seem to be spending gas above their pre-defined usage standard for the routes assigned. I kid you not: I've seen supervisors giving 18 wheeler drivers this very feedback just based on what a mileage vs gas report is showing.
 
What a joke the "In Context" blurb is. This is all about efficiency? Really? It's obvious this is about safety - which is a good thing! If you can't report on tech companies without curbing your biases, don't report at all, "Techspot".
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 556   +951
What a joke the "In Context" blurb is. This is all about efficiency? Really? It's obvious this is about safety - which is a good thing! If you can't report on tech companies without curbing your biases, don't report at all, "Techspot".

It could be, we don't really know and Amazon will probably stay silent, but not necessarily: As I said in my post I've seen super micromanagement like this in real life: Modern logistics takes into account far more information you'd think it's necessary. Amazon went into the IT business largely just to support the amount of data crunching they needed to meet their targets and then decided to rent out that infrastructure to third parties and AWS was born with many tools to establish serious data warehousing.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,449   +3,603
What a joke the "In Context" blurb is. This is all about efficiency? Really? It's obvious this is about safety - which is a good thing! If you can't report on tech companies without curbing your biases, don't report at all, "Techspot".
How's this for "context": This is the same company that will discipline/fire workers if they take 1 minute over their alloted bathroom time, reguarly works peopel to heat stroke in their warehouses, and rather then allowing longer breaks or something useful, placed abulances outside the warehouse instead.

The same company that fosters a hyper competitive enviroment for their web developers. The same company that finds anyway possible to reduce the number of permanent employees in favor of temp agencies. And of course, the same company that patented the wage cage.

And you think this is for saftey instead of squeezing even more performance out of their workers? Please.
 

brucek

Posts: 803   +1,104
TechSpot Elite
And you think this is for saftey instead of squeezing even more performance out of their workers? Please.
No reason it can't be for both, with package security as a 3rd objective too. In fact safety and performance are linked - you can't push performance without taking on increased legal liability unless you can also show you're just as serious about not sacrificing safety to do it. I do believe they are paying attention on both fronts.

It may be just me but personally my fear over this type of system decreases as the population size grows. If I was one of 10 employees being monitored this way I'd worry the system was buggy or unrealistic. If I'm one of 75,000, I ultimately know the system has to be reasonable or there'll be 75,000 other drivers who look just as bad as I do, and no one is going to fire their entire work force. I'd also rather be judged and recorded by an objective system who will take only facts into account, vs. human judgment which in the work place can often be subjective and based on factors that have nothing to do with the job.


 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,353   +1,511
Congrats! Now you cannot scratch own nuts without being watched. So much for the right of privacy.
Privacy in public? Um, I think you missed an important amendment there....

But yea, I don't know.
Seems there are too many stories already about people doing that in front of a camera voluntarily. From the church to government. This could be a good thing. This way they don't have to worry about holding their phone to get a good shot or posting it online!

In all seriousness, our city buses record audio and video and no one is whining as much as you all are. And you're not even the ones on their cameras!

sigh....
People always gotta be upset about - everything. It's effing annoying.
 
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JamesBlond

Posts: 85   +56
That is right, be a slave to the system, let your masters rule over you like the evil kings of yesteryear and nobody do anything about it
 

Eric Mozzone

Posts: 46   +28
I remember specifically in History class studying strikes. Nowadays, we just let these bastard companies treat us like crap, because what?
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,449   +3,603
Privacy in public? Um, I think you missed an important amendment there....

But yea, I don't know.
Seems there are too many stories already about people doing that in front of a camera voluntarily. From the church to government. This could be a good thing. This way they don't have to worry about holding their phone to get a good shot or posting it online!

In all seriousness, our city buses record audio and video and no one is whining as much as you all are. And you're not even the ones on their cameras!

sigh....
People always gotta be upset about - everything. It's effing annoying.
People constantly prying into our lives and treating us like cattle is really effing annoying too, just saying.
I remember specifically in History class studying strikes. Nowadays, we just let these bastard companies treat us like crap, because what?
People today cant go without their trivial worldly goods for 5 minutes, let alone do something like strike, where their own financial well being would be at risk.
 

Scrye74

Posts: 33   +66
Having worked for more than one transportation company, this is absolutely nothing new. For those that are saying they are not going to buy from Amazon because of this, good luck. Each company I worked for had the same thing and many of them transport food, among other refrigerated items.

Most of the systems have accelerometers, which detect the hard breaking, fast turns and quick accelerations. They also monitor non-signaled lane departures and some can tell if the driver isn't watching the road. The cameras will take a short clip of the driver and road when these events occur, which allows a manager to review and see if the driver was distracted, falling asleep or was actually paying attention. Most incidents are caused by other drivers on the road and not the driver being monitored. In every company I have personally seen these systems used in, their number of accidents and load damage was significantly reduced. This included rollovers, drivers falling asleep, aggressive driving and just generally unsafe behavior. The only drivers that chronically complained where the ones that never got enough sleep or were just real jerks on the road.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,256   +1,386
TechSpot Elite
Amazon knows that most people are too selfish to care about Amazon workers and will still buy stuff from Amazon no matter how badly their workers are treated. Lex Bezos saw that how no matter how abusive Wal-Mart was to its employees, people still shopped there. As long as people continue to do business with Amazon, none of these reports will make any difference whatsoever. People will claim "Oh but I NEED Amazon!" which makes me wonder how the hell they survived before it existed.

I myself have purchased TWO items from Amazon in the last five years and ONE thing from Wal-Mart. I haven't exactly suffered as a result. From Amazon, I bought a battery charger that can recharge "non-rechargeable" alkaline batteries (less environmental impact) and my most recent video card that was $90 cheaper than anything in stores (turned out to be REALLY lucky based on events since then) and I had to buy a t-shirt from Wal-Mart because a bird pooped on me (kind of an emergency situation).

If everyone boycotted Amazon and Wal-Mart the way that I do, only to be used in unique situations, they would suddenly find ways to treat their employees better. It is possible and it's not even difficult. The question is, do people really care or will the response be about as useful as the "thoughts and prayers" that are offered for mass-shooting victims? Amazon already has impossible expectations from its employees. If more pressure is put on them, it could force their drivers to adopt dangerous driving tactics to try to save their jobs. Sooner or later, someone is going to get killed because of this. When that happens (not if) I at least know that my conscience will be clear because I'll know that I wasn't part of the problem.
 
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hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,353   +1,511
People constantly prying into our lives and treating us like cattle is really effing annoying too, just saying.
People today cant go without their trivial worldly goods for 5 minutes, let alone do something like strike, where their own financial well being would be at risk.
You're not wrong.
 

mailpup

Posts: 7,655   +759
TS Special Forces
If everyone boycotted Amazon and Wal-Mart the way that I do, only to be used in unique situations, they would suddenly find ways to treat their employees better.
You could be right but, using that tactic, I suspect if those companies lost enough business, they would lay people off first. Because Walmart has physical stores and if things got bad enough, they would likely just close the store. They are already doing that now with low performing stores. So IMHO boycotting a store could lead to some or all employees of a store losing their jobs altogether.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,256   +1,386
TechSpot Elite
You could be right but, using that tactic, I suspect if those companies lost enough business, they would lay people off first. Because Walmart has physical stores and if things got bad enough, they would likely just close the store. They are already doing that now with low performing stores. So IMHO boycotting a store could lead to some or all employees of a store losing their jobs altogether.
In the short-term, yes. However, that would cause the stock value to drop because it would cost money to close the distribution centre in question. Not only that, something like this would grab media attention and so Amazon would have the choice of either closing almost every plant that they have with their stock prices falling so fast that Bezos would lose at least half of his total wealth within a year, or... they start running a sustainable business. Bezos is evil but he's not stupid.

At the same time, if people abandon Wal-Mart and Amazon, the most likely recipient of the business will be Costco. The CEO of Costco, Craig Jelinek, is an awesome human being and he would see the writing on the wall. He'd probably start hiring ex-Amazon and Wal-Mart workers en masse and he'd be right to do so. No Amazon worker is lazy and Wal-Mart employees have experience with both customers and the products sold. Costco is very well-known as a company that treats its employees VERY well and DOESN'T attempt to block unionization. Costco is spoken very highly of by the colossal United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union:

Costco deserves our business and that's why they have almost all of mine. Becoming a member isn't exactly hard because anyone who is already a member can sponsor an unlimited number of people for membership (and we get a bonus for doing it) so membership isn't a real barrier.

Is there anyone in the USA or Canada who DOESN'T know someone or at least doesn't know someone who knows someone who is a Costco member? I kinda doubt that. I'm much happier as a person doing the majority of my business as a consumer without supporting Amazon or Wal-Mart. To me, it would be the same as supporting Intel or nVidia. To me, ethics matter.
 

mailpup

Posts: 7,655   +759
TS Special Forces
In the short-term, yes. However, that would cause the stock value to drop because it would cost money to close the distribution centre in question. Not only that, something like this would grab media attention and so Amazon would have the choice of either closing almost every plant that they have with their stock prices falling so fast that Bezos would lose at least half of his total wealth within a year, or... they start running a sustainable business. Bezos is evil but he's not stupid.
In theory maybe but IMHO it's not realistic. You may wish it to happen but I doubt enough people would follow your example to make a significant difference. I could be wrong but I don't think so.