You are fired!

2019-05-10

One of the topics discussed during our symposium Being Human with Algorithms were the effects of decision making algorithms on interpersonal relationships and especially on the workplace.

A recent report by the Verge revealed practices used by Amazon. Amazon’s demanding culture of worker productivity has been revealed in multiple investigations. But a new report indicates that the company doesn’t just track worker productivity at its warehouses — it also has a system that can automatically generate the paperwork to fire them if they’re not meeting targets. Amazon has fired more than 300 workers, citing productivity, at a single facility in Baltimore in a single year (August 2017 through September 2018). Amazon’s system tracks a metric called “time off task,” meaning how much time workers pause or take breaks. It has been previously reported that some workers feel so pressured that they don’t take bathroom breaks. If the system determines the employee is failing to meet production targets, it can automatically issue warnings and even termination paperwork, all without a supervisor’s intervention; although Amazon said that a human supervisor can override the system. The company also said it provides training to those who don’t meet their production goals.

Computer science always claimed to provide systems that will make our live easier. I leave it up to your judgement, whether the Amazon corporate culture fits into this pattern.

The Verge: http://bit.ly/2Wzb3Cx

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Gerhard Schimpf, the recipient of the ACM Presidential Award 2016, has a degree in Physics from the University of Karlsruhe. As a former IBM development manager and self-employed consultant for international companies, he has been active in ACM for over four decades. He was a leading supporter of ACM Europe, serving on the first ACM Europe Council in 2009. He was also instrumental in coordinating ACM’s spot as one of the founding organizations of the Heidelberg Laureates Forum. Gerhard Schimpf is a member of the German Chapter of the ACM (Chair 2008 – 2011) and a member of the Gesellschaft für Informatik. --oo-- Gerhard Schimpf, der 2016 mit dem ACM Presidential Award geehrt wurde, hat an der TH Karlsruhe Physik studiert. Als ehemaliger Manager bei IBM im Bereich Entwicklung und Forschung und als freiberuflicher Berater international tätiger Unternehmen ist er seit 40 Jahren in der ACM aktiv. Er war Gründungsmitglied des ACM Europe Councils und gehört zum Founders Club für das Heidelberg Laureate Forum, einem jährlichen Treffen von Preisträgern der Informatik und Mathematik mit Studenten. Gerhard Schimpf ist Mitglied des German Chapter of the ACM (Chairperson 2008 – 2011) und der Gesellschaft für Informatik.


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