Earlier this month in the item about work conditions at Amazon's warehouse, I almost wrote that the more these workers and the press complained about work conditions, the more likely it was that they'd be replaced with robots. I restrained myself, though, probably in part because I didn't want to be lambasted for heartlessness (which I was criticized for anyway). Now comes the news that Amazon is spending $775 million to acquire Kiva. Reports Reuters: "Kiva develops robots that zip around warehouses, grabbing and moving shelves and crates full of products. The technology helps retailers fulfill online orders quickly and with fewer workers."
Amazon will still need some (probably higher-skilled) human workers to fix the robots and probably to turn them on and off, but the robots don't try to organize unions, they don't complain to newspaper reporters, they don't need ice cream on hot days, and they aren't subject to the strictures of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Nor do their health insurance costs go up by 10% or 20% a year.