by Brandon Butler
How Hard Will the Robots Make Us Work? 3/2/2020

Josh Dzieza writing for The Verge on the rise of AI managing humans:

The robots are watching over hotel housekeepers, telling them which room to clean and tracking how quickly they do it. They’re managing software developers, monitoring their clicks and scrolls and docking their pay if they work too slowly. They’re listening to call center workers, telling them what to say, how to say it, and keeping them constantly, maximally busy. While we’ve been watching the horizon for the self-driving trucks, perpetually five years away, the robots arrived in the form of the supervisor, the foreman, the middle manager.

These automated systems can detect inefficiencies that a human manager never would — a moment’s downtime between calls, a habit of lingering at the coffee machine after finishing a task, a new route that, if all goes perfectly, could get a few more packages delivered in a day. But for workers, what look like inefficiencies to an algorithm were their last reserves of respite and autonomy, and as these little breaks and minor freedoms get optimized out, their jobs are becoming more intense, stressful, and dangerous. Over the last several months, I’ve spoken with more than 20 workers in six countries. For many of them, their greatest fear isn’t that robots might come for their jobs: it’s that robots have already become their boss.

Amazon, of course, is at the front of this, but this AI takeover of management also affects call center employees and programmers working from home. It’s not about how to do a better job, it’s about how to squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of these workers, to the point of total exhaustion and burnout. No company caring about the health, happiness, and wellbeing of their employees is using these kinds of systems.