In a significant move that underscores the evolving landscape of the modern workforce, Amazon is collaborating with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to study the implications of automation on the workforce. This partnership aims to shed light on the profound implications of automation, particularly the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), within the world of work.
As we stand on the precipice of a technological revolution, this newly announced venture seeks to expand MIT’s Automation Clinic—a leading hub for engineering researchers determined to unravel the intricate tapestry of emerging technologies and their impact on employees and organizations. The outcome of this collaboration will not only shape the future of work at Amazon but also hold invaluable lessons for the broader labor market.
With the polling research firm Ipsos, MIT will spearhead a study to assess public and employee sentiments regarding the deployment of robotics and AI within industrial settings. The insights from this research will help guide both MIT and Amazon in their endeavors to craft collaborative technologies that bolster employee support.
Amazon envisions using these findings to enhance the design of robotics that not only elevate the employee experience but also promote safety across their operational network. The company plans to invest in training initiatives that empower employees to harness new technological advancements to further their careers.
Tye Brady, the chief technologist at Amazon Robotics, stated that the company has over 750,000 mobile robots already aiding in tasks ranging from sorting to packaging.
“Since we introduced robots into our operations, we’ve created over 700 categories of new skill job types within Amazon that didn’t exist within the company beforehand,” Brady stated in the company’s announcement. “That’s in part why on-the-job training and programs like Career Choice are so important to us, as we look for ways to help our employees to grow their careers.”
Brady also highlighted the safety benefits of robotics. Data from 2022 indicated that Amazon’s robotics sites witnessed a 15% and 18% reduction in recordable incident rates and lost-time incident rates, respectively, compared to non-robotics sites.
The workforce will be deeply impacted by automation. This collaboration underscores the urgency for businesses to adapt, reskill, and strike a harmonious balance between human potential and technological innovation in the workforce of tomorrow. While the distant future might not see fully automated warehouses, the synergy between humans and robots will undoubtedly redefine the future of work.