Amazon To Put Workers In Cages?

Amazon, which has been accused of abusing its workers, has reportedly patented a cage that would contain a human worker and sit on top of a robot.

Amazon has was granted the patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in 2016, notes the Boston Herald.

A study by Kate Crawford, a co-founder of the AI Now Institute at New York University, and Vladan Joler, a professor in the new media department at the University of Novi Sad in Serbia, described the patent:

[A]n extraordinary illustration of worker alienation, a stark moment in the relationship between humans and machines…

It depicts a metal cage intended for the worker, equipped with different cybernetic add-ons, that can be moved through a warehouse by the same motorized system that shifts shelves filled with merchandise.

Here, the worker becomes a part of a machinic ballet, held upright in a cage which dictates and constrains their movement.

The patent credits eight inventors in Boston, home of Amazon Robotics, which was formed through Amazon’s acquisition of Kiva Systems in 2012.

An Amazon spokeswoman, Lindsay Campbell, said speculation about the patent was “misguided”:

Like many companies, we file a number of forward-looking patent applications. Many don’t see the light of day as finished products, particularly at Amazon, which encourages employees to experiment and invent. Such a cage-like device is not in use in any Amazon fulfillment centers.

Other Amazon patents have proposed wristbands to track workers’ hand movements, dropping packages from drones 25 feet in the air, or having drones form a floating warehouse.

(Source: Boston Herald, Photo Credit: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office via Tribune News Service)



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