Fired by Bot at Amazon: ‘It’s You Against the Machine’
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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.
Artificial Intelligence for Good Work Concept Paper by DGB