CES 2020: Amazon partners with vehicle manufacturers
By announcing tie-ups with car manufacturers such as Lamborghini and firms developing driverless car software at CES 2020, Amazon has revealed that the company is expanding into the car industry. The multinational retailer has announced that it would incorporate its voice assistant Alexa to Lamborghini’s Huracan Evo in order to enable drivers to ask for directions, control music and make phone calls. Last year, Amazon invested twice in the American electric car manufacturer Rivian, which has announced that it would also include the voice assistant in their forthcoming SUV.
In the words of IZA World of Labor Editor-in-Chief Daniel S. Hamermesh, “It is interesting to speculate/think about how this tremendous innovation might affect workers.” “The bigger impact will be on how current auto-based commuters spend their time,” he adds. IZA World of Labor author Richard B. Freeman has also explored how new technologies might affect worker well-being and inequality and has concluded that it largely depends on who owns them.
According to him: “As long as the relative advantage of machines varies, there will be work for humans. The problem is that the owners of the machines will receive the vast bulk of the benefits of the technological progress. Whether such inequality will threaten social disorder, as the OECD and many other groups fear that current inequalities may do, or whether people will accept the new feudal order, is still unknown. But a world of massive inequality is surely not the most desirable outcome from technological change that can make everyone better off. The best solution to this problem is for workers to own large shares of capital.”
Amazon has also revealed a tie-up with ExxonMobil, the American multinational oil and gas corporation, which will allow drivers at 11,500 petrol stations in the US to ask Alexa to pay the bill for fuel. In a bid to improve its extensive delivery network and to capture the attention of drivers and passengers, the tech giant has gradually been investing in car companies and software firms. Only last year Amazon invested in Aurora, a self-driving technology company, which is a potential step towards driverless delivery vans.
Read Daniel S. Hamermesh’s opinion piece How might self-driving cars change the lives of workers? and Richard B. Freeman’s article Who owns the robots rules the world.