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This is a great move. I've been waiting for this. Robots are never going to demand a raise, or health insurance, or holidays. Robots don't get carpal tunnel syndrome, or get their feelings hurt. I hope it spreads.

David Grenier

Wow, Becky, I wonder if either you're independently wealthy or just willing to work for the same wage with no insurance for the rest of your life. Because you seem to think that Netflix employees don't deserve to actually get paid or take their kids to the doctor.

What's interesting to me is that there has to be a pretty big up-front cost to designing and building these machines (unless they already existed for some other purpose, so maybe the design costs weren't to high). It doesn't seem like the type of cost you'd incur if, say, you thought that the DVD-by-mail market would be drying up in the next few years as everyone converted to direct downloads/streaming.

As a geek, I've always been fascinated by machines like this. I always enjoyed school field trips to the soda bottling plant or the like. And finding ways to substitute machines for drudge labor makes us all richer, which I think was Becky's point.

Swasey talked about how these machines can stuff 3,000 discs per hour vs. 800 for a human, but that's an irrelevant metric. What really matters is the total cost per disc after all costs are included - development, maintenance, breakage, etc.


David, I'm sorry if I implied that you shouldn't demand a raise, or insurance, or compensation for your carpal tunnel syndrome. You can bargain with your employer for any benefits you think your skills are worth. But if the employer would rather spend money on a robot than on you, then you need to be smarter than a robot.

Whether employees "deserve" anything is irrelevant.

My wealth, or lack thereof, is irrelevant.


I must agree with David. It is awesome that Netflix would do something like this to increase efficiency, but that means less jobs for people because everything will be replaced by robots. So even YOU Becky, could be easily replaced with a robot. Therefore, I would get cracking on getting a little smarter.

Proteus IV

"Because you seem to think that Netflix employees don't deserve to actually get paid or take their kids to the doctor."

I think what Becky is saying is that *robots* don't deserve to actually get paid or take their kids to the doctor. As a robot, I take offense, and if I had feelings, you better believe they'd be hurt!

Marvin the Robot

And while we're at it, I have a bone to pick with MikeK. Having to fill out a captcha to post a comment discriminates against us robots! I had to get help from a human -- how humiliating!


Becky, I have to agree with David. Your comments (especially the "I hope it spreads." comment) are very shortsighted and selfish. You seem to only care about how something will benefit you, and to hell with how it will affect others. As I said previously, that is shortsighted and selfish!


NOOOO! Say it ain't so! I'm warning you, next these things will develop a sense of self and destroy humanity! Nothing more dangerous than envelope-stuffing robots on a rampage!

Bad news if your dreams, career ambitions and livelihood depended solely on stuffing envelopes for a living.

Good news if you want to see progress, better service, and more for your money as a customer and/or shareholder.

This is called progress. It appears that the Netflix warehouse distribution model mirrored the check processing departments of banks and other financial institutions.

Within the last 10 years people were replaced by robots/machines that could process checks faster and more accurately than people could.

I hope Netflix was smart enough to use 'temp' agencies instead of actually hiring most of their people.


Becky dearest .. you are a bad, bad, BAD girl.


To the last comment before me.
I can totally see your point, and I agree for the most part. But just because you think someone shouldn't make a career of stuffing envelopes or working at Netflix, doesn't mean that this is a bad decision with no career ambition. Heck, everyone wants to get more for their money, and essentially companies would like to make more money, but just because you don't agree with it, it doesn't make it "bad news". I have spoken with a person from one of the warehouses who is perfectly happy with what she does. I am sure she is not the only one.


Sorry, I meant to the comment before HarryPinker's


Would this machine mean we'll get dvd's faster? 'Cause usually it's a one day turnaround. But if they have minimal copies it can be 2 or 3 days. Or if you send back 3 movies at once it can be slow.


Just wait until those machines take over our defense network and launch a nuclear attack on the human race…

Wow what happens when one of these dvd stuffing robots comes across a copy of the 2004 Will Smith "I, Robot"???

What if they get together and watch it after the humans go home? Then they might take over just like in the movie!

Dja ever think about that Becky huh???


Y'all are funny.

One of my favorite movies is Terminator 2.

Edward R Murrow

Come on you Luddites, throw your sabots into the machines!


I have a feeling Becky is being sarcastic...


C'mon if the foreman was bein' an arse & I threw my wooden shoe into the machinery to slow production... how hard do you think it would be to pick out the culprit?

"Grab him! That guy with one shoe on!" (Anyway the wiki def is sorta fixed, but thanks for pointing it out Ed)

I'm not sure anyone's "dream" is to stuff envelopes but it's a living. Robots & outsourcing & union busting & WalMart make us all poorer. 'Cept maybe the few wealthy folks like Becky who don't care about the rest of us.



I wonder what a serf from the dark ages would say about all this.

A DVD stuffing machine may not be much in the way of progress, but I'd rather go forward than backward.


Watching the video, I can see that the stuffing machines are not totally autonomous. It takes an employee to keep them running, so there shouldn't be mass layoffs when all the machines come online.

Technology Slice

Automation is the key to efficiency but it's best not to abandon the human touch completely. When a robot makes a mistake it keeps making the same mistake over and over.

Those robots are not new. They were there when I worked there. I did not work in the warehouse but walked through there on occasion. They have more than just that robot. There are several that do several different things.

The warehouse workers are temps who get promoted to an actual NF employee based on their job performance.

robot paycheck

“Whenever we can accelerate the business to get DVDs processed faster, which means getting them to our members faster, we do it.”

Unless a customer's unprofitable, of course. Then they do everything they can to slow the shipment of DVDs and ship from further away. Hey, maybe that's the strategy here. They'll use robots to sort DVDs for light users, and use humans to sort DVDs for the heavy users.

BTW, I agree with David Grenier. It's stupid to take away someone's job with a robot, and NOT give them a share of the robot paycheck. The problem is that people have to work dumb jobs like stuffing envelopes and scanning groceries and other nonsense. There should just be a guaranteed income with paid for by the savings from automation. This is called the robot's paycheck theory.

http://www.mail-archive.com/[email protected]/msg06409.html

The problem with capitalism is that the rich own the robots (capital), instead of society at large. Becky's comments are despicable if she is not being sarcastic, which is hard to tell. They reflect an elitist snob attitude.


@ Becky:
"David, I'm sorry if I implied that you shouldn't demand a raise, or insurance, or compensation for your carpal tunnel syndrome. You can bargain with your employer for any benefits you think your skills are worth."

In other words - Let them eat cake. How many people are in a position to demand raises or insurance or compensation for stress-related injuries? But that's not your problem, since you have your piece of the pie, right?

"But if the employer would rather spend money on a robot than on you, then you need to be smarter than a robot."

Fine, but why shouldn't society just pay for everyone's medical expenses, like it does in democracies? (The USA is not a democracy. It has rigged elections and nobody even cares.) We can't all be smarter than a robot, and it only takes one person to make a million jobs obsolete. Doesn't that concern you?

"Whether employees "deserve" anything is irrelevant."

You're right. There should be baic rights as human beings - food, water, shelter, medical care, and so forth. Universal Declaration of Human Rights would go a long way towards the more equitable society. Why shouldn't people have more leisure when robots take away jobs from people? It's a treadmill that keeps the poor running for their whole lives and ought to be put to an end by automation and giving people goods and services for free.

"My wealth, or lack thereof, is irrelevant."

It maybe irrelevant to everyone but you, but it's very relevant when you make claims that people should just "negotiate with employers for better conditions." It betrays either an unforgivable ignorance or hatred of humanity to subject people to poverty and say "that's not my problem. Am I my brother's keeper?" I prefer to operate based on moral principles, like treating people as you would like to be treated. (Free health care, for ex, instead of profit-based managed care.) It seems that other people do not concern you. That's sad.


I'm beginning to think you guys are serious.

Thinking you should be given everything for free is probably why you will be replaced by a robot.


Are people really objecting to Netflix using robots to stuff envelopes more efficiently? It's not like they won't still need people. You know, the people that would be stuffing those envelopes can be given other duties at Netflix which makes the turnaround time that much faster.

The USPS would need more employees if they got rid of all their automated equipment. Should they do that?


To quote Real Caouette: "If they want more jobs, take out the bulldozer and put in 50 men with shovels. If you need more jobs, take away their shovels and give them spoons."

No, the problem is not a lack of jobs, but lack of money to buy things, which requires one to work at useless drudgery. If we got rid of capitalistm, we could automate most of the work and create a better world, but capitalists don't want that. They prefer to go on profiting on everyone else's misery. Then spout off about how the poor should go talk to their employers if they don't have health care. What if they don't have a job? Guess that's their tough luck, they should starve to death or get smarter, huh, Becky?


I hope you all understand that these machines won't actually speed up your shipments. They are efficient yes! What they will do is stuff more envelopes in an hour, that's it. Netflix still counts on the USPS to deliver them. So whether Netflix stuffs 700, or 3000 of them in an hour won't make a big difference if the USPS doesn't deliver on time.


anti-capitalist: people like you are a real hoot. Ooo! Rigged elections! Black helicopters! G-Men! Why is it all the big socialist types are utter losers and baby bawling whiners? As I am active in politics, I've met so many people like you. You claim to care about others, but you want is *YOUR* handout. Leech.

It's whining losers like you who drive the invention of robots like this, because no one can put up with your preschool crying tantrums. Right to health care? Right to a job? Why stop there. How about a right to HDTV and free internet access and free hybrid cars?

If you can't compete, then either use your brain and develop some marketable skills, or lay down and die, and get out of the way of your superiors (which in this case is most people). You are a total and complete loser living in a tiny little ideological fantasy world inside your head. Now go stuff some envelopes. That seems to be all you can handle. Ha ha ha! LOSER!!!!!!


Sam, it's the "the universe owes me a living and everything else" contingent coming out of the woodwork and from under their rocks. They want to stuff envelopes for 40 years and then retire to a mansion.

It's easier than thinking or competing or bettering themselves or admitting they just don't live up to any sort of reasonable standard of a successful human being, and that they will NEVER be independent and self sufficient, always will needed to suckle at one taxpayer funded teat or another because they are FAILURES in life.

They drag everyone and everything else down like a millstone around the neck of society because of their negative productivity and media bred sense of entitlement.


Creating and running a stuffing machine is no small feet and the driving force is likely necessity rather than cost savings. Netflix has two major problems due to the scale of their business, high turnover and an inconsistent need for labor.

Sure there are people that like the idea of stuffing envelopes as a job. The problem is that there are probably not LOTS of people that would like to do it and would be willing to consistently do a good job at it. This means that Netflix likely does constant hiring of people to try and make up for the ones that leave or had to be let go. The more total people they need, the harder it becomes to keep all the positions filled. There may be plenty of people looking for a job that used to work in the mortgage industry but they may only stick around until a better opportunity presents itself.

The other problem Netflix faces is that they don't get a consistent amount of mail to process on each day. There are people that will work part time, but not many that would take a job that was only on Monday. They could smooth that a bit my running operations on Saturday, but that makes staffing the positions (especially management) even more difficult.

I have no idea how much, if any, these machines save in labor costs (given what I know they cost to purchase and operate). However, with the machines Netflix should be able to provide a more consistent service.


Sorry... you people have it all wrong. The use of these overly expensive machines is a direct result of the AARP.

You see, they've been putting the heat on us to hire their members who've had to come out of retirement because many pensions evaporated in the stock market. Now... we do our best to keep shipment speeds to an absolute minimum, but these people are just beyond slow. These machines were the only way to keep the new customers from quiting.

I shouldn't think anyone here should worry about the machines being used on their disks. All of you are likely to be over-utilizing the service so we would make sure your disks are handled by the AARP members. You can rest assured that your DVD processing has cost nobody their job and is actually improving the fitness level for countless seniors.

By the way, please DO include those post-it notes in your return envelope. It is so nice to see the older generation stop, put on their glasses, and smile at a kind note someone included.


Keep your voices down, shouting enrages the robots!


I do love how privileged right wing wackos claim wanting a decent peaceful society (like Sweden for example) with housing and health care and other necessities for all -- clearly the US could afford this if it wasn't an empire -- is lazy.

The biggest welfare recipients are the corporations. Enron, Exxon, Haliburton, and your other heroes.

Like, for example, Netflix underpaying the Postal Service!!


Some jobs humans should not be doing. In my ideal world we should have a 3 day work week, and low unemployment and with robots doing as many of the shitty jobs as possible.

So when Netflix goes to all streaming, I'm sure that these envelope stuffer machines can be re-purposed to send Pink slips to all the unnecessary Netflix employees. That would include all the Netflix software developers who write and maintain the software that sends and receives the actual DVD's. Better be pro-actice since there's a recession on the way!


The machine is only 4.5 times faster than a human??? Come back when it is 10 times faster.

this is definitely stuff white people like!

Jeff R.

"So when Netflix goes to all streaming, I'm sure that these envelope stuffer machines can be re-purposed to send Pink slips to all the unnecessary Netflix employees. That would include all the Netflix software developers who write and maintain the software that sends and receives the actual DVD's. Better be pro-actice since there's a recession on the way!"

At a rate of 3000 pink slips per hour!

But seriously... everyone getting all riled up from automation needs to simmer down. Welcome to life. Without machines and robots, you'd pay $100,000 for your Chevy Cavalier (which would actually be even more poorly made). Stamping DVDs would be pretty slow too right?

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