Amazon may have more robot employees than humans in the future

What could the consequences be in the future?
Christopher McFadden
Stock image of robot transportation and cargo handling.
Stock image of robot transportation and cargo handling.

Oselote/iStock 

An interesting tweet is making headlines regarding Amazon's adoption of robots within its company. Posted by Sam Korus, the tweet includes a graph showing the relative numbers of robots and human employees (in the thousands) at the beginning of every year between 2013 and 2022.

The graph shows a growing trend in the number of humans and robots over time, with a noticeable uptick during the pandemic as people spent more time shopping online at home. Korus' tweet predicts that more robots will be employed than humans at some point in the future; he might have a point.

Since 2013, for example, human staff have risen from 88,000 to 1,608,000 in 2022, roughly a 1,727% gain in just nine years. Robots, on the other hand, have risen from 1,000 to 520,000 in the same period.

That is an increase of 51,900% over the same period! Quite incredible.

Amazon uses robots to help with its logistics and fulfillment operations. They use a fleet of self-driving mobile robots, like the Kiva robots, to move products around their warehouses and help pick, pack, and ship items.

They also use robots in their sortation centers, which sort packages by destination before they are delivered. Additionally, Amazon uses drones for some deliveries.

These drones are also autonomous and controlled by computer algorithms. Amazon is investing heavily in automation, and a trend will likely continue across many industries.

But should we be worried?

Are robots coming for our jobs?

Robots have already significantly impacted the industry, primarily in manufacturing. They can work around the clock and perform repetitive tasks with high precision and speed.

This has increased productivity, efficiency, and cost savings for companies. In addition, robots can work in environments that may be dangerous or difficult for humans, such as extreme temperatures or radioactive areas.

In the future, robots will continue to play a significant role in various industries. Robots will become more self-sufficient and able to do a broader range of tasks as technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning improve.

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They will also become more flexible and able to work with people in places like warehouses and assembly lines where people work together.

As technology continues to improve, robots are also expected to play an increasing role in industries beyond manufacturing, such as healthcare, logistics, transportation, and service industries.

Overall, the impact of robots on industries has been and will be significant. They could make people more productive and efficient, cut costs, and improve working conditions.

However, it also raises concerns about job displacement and the need for workforce retraining. But is this a valid concern? Especially since Elon Musk says the future will be full of robots and his company is making robots like the Tesla Optimus?

While companies like Amazon may use more robots to automate specific tasks in the future, it is unlikely that robots will completely replace human workers.

Amazon currently uses a combination of human and robotic workers in its warehouses and distribution centers. The company has been investing in automation technology to improve efficiency and productivity, but it also values the skills and capabilities of human workers.

So, it's likely that Amazon will continue to use a mix of human and robotic workers in the future.

If history is anything to go by, replacing existing human roles with robots will lead to new, as yet unimaginable, jobs likely being created in the future. We are highly adaptable beings, so we will no doubt dream up some exciting things in the future.

In other words, we humans create a task, find a way to solve it, and then find a way to automate it. Then, freed from menial tasks, we can move on to inventing a whole new task or even industry.

But, ultimately, we can never know for sure.