Amazon Invents Vibrating Wristband to Control Workers’ Movements

More on the steady progress of western industrial management towards Orwellian totalitarianism. In this clip from the Jimmy Dore Show, Dore and his guest, Ron Placone, discuss the invention by Amazon of a wristband, which uses information technology to monitor where workers are in a building. The wristband is intended to be worn by warehouse workers. If they don’t have their hands in quite the right place when they’re reaching for a product on the warehouse shelves in order to fulfil an order, the wristband vibrates in order to nudge them in the right direction. The company is promoting this as a way of getting its workers to get the requested goods from their shelves and off to the customer, and then move on to the next order.

Dore and Placone make the point that this is indeed deeply totalitarian, with Placone mentioning the theory of inverted totalitarianism proposed by one academic. This states that while previous totalitarianisms were all about the state ordering you what to do, the new, inverted totalitarianism is also all about absolute control, but this time it’s done for your convenience and benefit.

They also make the excellent point that Amazon is a company worth billions, but in America many of their workers are so poorly paid that they have to subsist on food stamps.

They also joke that this wristband will allow Amazon to control exactly what their workers are doing, right up to the point when they decide to replace them all with robots.

I put up a piece last week about the growing threat of totalitarianism in the workplace, noting the ways various companies from call centres to the Torygraph are using technology to try to control their workers’ movements. In the case of call centres, it’s done through motion detectors fixed to desks, so management can tell when their galley slaves are moving about. The weirdo Barclay twins, who own the Torygraph, tried to introduce it there, but the hacks revolted and their bonkers plan had to be abandoned. These schemes are increasingly getting to resemble the fictional, evil totalitarian corporations in dystopian Science Fiction, like that in Jack Womack’s cyberpunk novels Ambient, Heathern, Random Acts of Mindless Violence and Elvissey.

And it also gives Brits another reason to despise Amazon, apart from the fact that despite doing much of its business over here, it doesn’t pay any corporation tax.

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4 Responses to “Amazon Invents Vibrating Wristband to Control Workers’ Movements”

  1. ilhanbejar Says:

    Facing robots human must shut up. But this is a shame. In France we try not to control at what time you arrive, when you finish your work. You need to proove globally how many hours you worked in a week, in a month… This is progress ! Technology can be used for good and for worst. This application we can read here is for worst ! Thanks for free expression. Beatslakhah 😉

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks for the comment, ilhanbejar. Yes, there’s something peculiar about this use of technology to monitor and control workers to the Anglophone world. When business managers invented devices like this, I do wish our culture was just a bit more like the French and allow greater freedom to their workers. 🙂

  2. Colin Wilkes Says:

    This reminds me of a factory I worked in ,in the 1970’s. All the production workers were provided with free boiler suite’s. Very good of the employer you may say. But, there was a good reason from the employers point of view. Every department had their own colour of boiler suite. So if you were in a department other than that to which you belonged you stood out like a sore thumb. This then led to being questioned ,usually by a foreman in who’s department you shouldnt have been in to posing questions as to why you were not in your own department . Not that sort of Workers Control that is off interest to me.

    • Beastrabban Says:

      Very interesting perspective there, Colin. Clearly the bosses have been trying to control workers’ movements absolutely for a very long time. It’s just now they’ve got new technology to do it.

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