Did you hear the bit that they did about Amazon on Morning Edition?
It was all about how Amazon’s AI was ushering in some sort of shoppper’s utopia, while studiously ignoring the awful record of the firm on the labor and the environment.
If they throw their lot in with Amazon because of its sponsorship money, they don’t need yours.
Force the choice:
There are dozens of reports detailing how Amazon’s shipping policies negatively effects both the environment and workers, but one wouldn’t have any idea either was a concern after listening to NPR’s sexed-up report (Morning Edition, 11/21/18), “Optimized Prime: How AI and Anticipation Power Amazon’s 1-Hour Deliveries.”
The report, detailing the “Artificial Intelligence” behind Amazon’s delivery systems, relies entirely on interviews with Amazon flacks. The only people NPR speaks to are Brad Porter, the head of robotics for Amazon operations; Jenny Freshwater, director of software development; and Amazon VP Cem Sibay. No outside parties were sought for comment, let alone anyone remotely adversarial, such as labor organizers or environmental activists.
Indeed, the words “labor,” “worker” or “employee” are nowhere to be found in the six-minute report: Christmas packages simply deliver themselves with the help of brilliant Amazon execs and this mysterious AI technology. If Amazon’s marketing department wrote and produced a segment on their AI technology for NPR, it’s difficult to see how it would have been any different. Host Rachel Martin and correspondent Alina Selyukh all but literally exclaim “gee whiz”:
What economists? What does “latest chapter of industrialization” even mean? NPR, using Amazon’s spokespeople and paraphrasing a nebulous cohort of “economists,” recasts “criticism,” such that it is, as a generic, sanitized critique against an industry trend presumably out of Amazon‘s control, rather than directing criticism at Amazon themselves—a employer notorious for worker abuses ranging from wage theft, Orwellian working conditions, intimidation, retaliation and union-busting.
None of these widely documented concerns—all of which make cheap two-day shipping possible—were mentioned at all. Nor were the equally well-documented environmental downsides to two-day shipping, a convenience that, despite NPR’s “oh wow, how do they do that” excitement, creates tons of gratuitous, harmful carbon emissions.
Seriously: If you are a member, tell them to go Cheney themselves comes pledge time.