Foxconn, of course, is infamous for the number of its workers who committed suicide. Amazon has had issues of its own. At its Allentown, PA, warehouse, employees were repeatedly overwhelmed by heat and had to seek medical attention. A recent article in Mother Jones tells the story of what it’s like to work in one of these warehouses (the article does not identify the company).
Automation is not just about increasing efficiency. There’s some evidence to suggest that workers are simply being driven beyond their limits. As production speeds continue to increase, there has to come a point where the only option is to get the humans out of the loop. In many industries, automation may penetrate more rapidly than we expect simply because a threshold is reached where people can no longer keep up.