Fired by Bot at Amazon: ‘It’s You Against the Machine’

At the mercy of algorithms (C) Pixabay

2021-07-07

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Online retailing giant Amazon’s Flex contract drivers say their jobs are at the mercy of software that can unfairly rate their performance. Algorithms mine data on performance patterns and assign drivers routes, or deactivate them, with little human feedback. One source says the Flex algorithms do not account for human nature, setting up good drivers for failure. A former engineer who helped design Flex says Amazon believes the program’s benefits offset the collateral damage; a former manager says the company knew the software would lead to errors and bad press, but felt addressing such issues was unnecessarily expensive, as long as drivers could easily be replaced.

It might be worth noting that the German Trade Union Confederation has been fighting for years to ensure that its concept of “good work” is also realized in the digital age. Among other things, this includes ensuring that employees have the right to have a say and co-decision on the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace. It is precisely on this point that the DGB is now criticizing the European Commission’s planned AI regulation package in a statement.

Ref:     Full article (Bloomberg)

Artificial Intelligence for Good Work Concept Paper by DGB

Gerhard Schimpf, the recipient of the ACM Presidential Award 2016, has a degree in Physics from the University of Karlsruhe. As a former IBM development manager and self-employed consultant for international companies, he has been active in ACM for over four decades. He was a leading supporter of ACM Europe, serving on the first ACM Europe Council in 2009. He was also instrumental in coordinating ACM’s spot as one of the founding organizations of the Heidelberg Laureates Forum. Gerhard Schimpf is a member of the German Chapter of the ACM (Chair 2008 – 2011) and a member of the Gesellschaft für Informatik. --oo-- Gerhard Schimpf, der 2016 mit dem ACM Presidential Award geehrt wurde, hat an der TH Karlsruhe Physik studiert. Als ehemaliger Manager bei IBM im Bereich Entwicklung und Forschung und als freiberuflicher Berater international tätiger Unternehmen ist er seit 40 Jahren in der ACM aktiv. Er war Gründungsmitglied des ACM Europe Councils und gehört zum Founders Club für das Heidelberg Laureate Forum, einem jährlichen Treffen von Preisträgern der Informatik und Mathematik mit Studenten. Gerhard Schimpf ist Mitglied des German Chapter of the ACM (Chairperson 2008 – 2011) und der Gesellschaft für Informatik.


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