No wonder Bezos wants to move industry into orbit: In space, no one can hear you* scream

* And by you, we mean slain or injured Amazon warehouse workers

Amazon, a gigantic cloud provider with a department store in the basement, is having a crazy news week. Here's a quick summary.

Bezos goes full 'Outer Worlds'

Amazon's zillionaire supremo Jeff Bezos says that the future of manufacturing and materials processing is in spaaaace.

Speaking to a crowd at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in the States, the Beez said that in order to protect the Earth's environment and natural resources, mankind will eventually need to move all of its heavy industry to another celestial body, most likely the Moon, for starters.

"I believe that, one day, Earth will be zoned residential and light industry," Bezos told the assembled crowd at the weekend. "We'll move all heavy industry into space. That’s the only way, really, to save this planet."

That would require “real operational usability,” he said, meaning cheap, reusable rocketry. And by happy chance, he is developing just such hardware – although his Blue Origins rocket biz is well behind rival SpaceX in this area.

“You want a dynamic civilization that continues to use more and more energy and more and more resources and build amazing things,” he said. “And to do that, you have to move out into the solar system. The moon is a huge gift to us if we want to have a space-faring civilization.

There may be another benefit for Bezos: those lunar factories would be some 238,000 miles outside the jurisdiction of Earth's workers' compensation rules…

Study condemns Amazon's safety record

Amazon's warehouses in America are more than twice as dangerous for workers than similar fulfillment centers, in large part because of the high demands the retail giant places on getting orders out as fast as possible, it was claimed yesterday.

The Atlantic and Reveal, a unit of the Center of Investigative Reporting, reported on Monday: "Reveal amassed internal injury records from 23 of the company’s 110 fulfillment centers nationwide.

"Taken together, the rate of serious injuries for those facilities was more than double the national average for the warehousing industry: 9.6 serious injuries per 100 full-time workers in 2018, compared with an industry average that year of four."

The article goes on to claim that workers report having to put their bodies at risk, picking up large packages with poor technique or doing unsafe maneuvers in order to keep up with the demand for speedy fulfillment.

In one particularly appalling incident in 2017, an employee in Indiana was crushed to death by a forklift, only to have the matter, allegedly, swept under the rug by state authorities who didn't want any outcry over the death to dissuade Amazon from selecting Indiana for its second headquarters.

State officials, it is claimed, worked with Amazon management to shift the blame from the tech giant to the dead worker, advised Bezos & Co how to minimize any fines from the accident, and threatened a state safety inspector with the sack if he objected to his reports being rewritten.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on the report.

Police officers in the US

No wonder cops are so keen on Ring – they can slurp your doorbell footage with few limits, US senators complain


Ring rumored running recognition recon

Amazon's Ring subsidiary also made headlines this week when leaked internal documents appeared to indicate the video-surveillance outfit was working on a "watch list" program that would analyze footage from people's doorbell cameras, and alert owners whenever someone who had been deemed "suspicious" appeared in the field of view.

"It’s unclear who would have access to these neighborhood watch lists, if implemented, or how exactly they would be compiled, but the documents refer repeatedly to law enforcement, and Ring has forged partnerships with police departments throughout the US, raising the possibility that the lists could be used to aid local authorities," The Intercept noted.

"The documents indicate that the lists would be available in Ring’s Neighbors app, through which Ring camera owners discuss potential porch and garage security threats with others nearby."

"The features described are not in development nor in use, and Ring does not use facial recognition technology," the doorbell CCTV maker told The Register today. "Privacy is of the utmost importance to us, and any features we do develop will include strong privacy protections and put our customers in control." ®

Other stories you might like

  • AWS says it will cloudify your mainframe workloads
    Buyer beware, say analysts, technical debt will catch up with you eventually

    AWS is trying to help organizations migrate their mainframe-based workloads to the cloud and potentially transform them into modern cloud-native services.

    The Mainframe Modernization initiative was unveiled at the cloud giant's Re:Invent conference at the end of last year, where CEO Adam Selipsky claimed that "customers are trying to get off their mainframes as fast as they can."

    Whether this is based in reality or not, AWS concedes that such a migration will inevitably involve the customer going through a lengthy and complex process that requires multiple steps to discover, assess, test, and operate the new workload environments.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon not happy with antitrust law targeting Amazon
    We assume the world's smallest violin is available right now on Prime

    Updated Amazon has blasted a proposed antitrust law that aims to clamp down on anti-competitive practices by Big Tech.

    The American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and House Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) is a bipartisan bill, with Democrat and Republican support in the Senate and House. It is still making its way through Congress.

    The bill [PDF] prohibits certain "online platforms" from unfairly promoting their own products and services in a way that prevents or hampers third-party businesses in competing. Said platforms with 50 million-plus active monthly users in the US or 100,000-plus US business users, and either $550 billion-plus in annual sales or market cap or a billion-plus worldwide users, that act as a "critical trading partner" for suppliers would be affected. 

    Continue reading
  • Amazon accused of obstructing probe into deadly warehouse collapse
    House Dems demand documents from CEO on facility hit by tornado – or else

    Updated The US House Oversight Committee has told Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to turn over documents pertaining to the collapse of an Amazon warehouse – and if he doesn't, the lawmakers say they will be forced to "consider alternative measures."

    Penned by Oversight Committee members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO) and committee chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), the letter refers to the destruction of an Edwardsville, Illinois, Amazon fulfillment center in which six people were killed when a tornado hit. It was reported that the facility received two weather warnings about 20 minutes before the tornado struck at 8.27pm on December 10; most staff had headed to a shelter, some to an area where there were no windows but was hard hit by the storm.

    In late March, the Oversight Committee sent a letter to Jassy with a mid-April deadline to hand over a variety of documents, including disaster policies and procedures, communication between managers, employees and contractors, and internal discussion of the tornado and its aftermath.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022