The growth of automation in the workplace will accelerate this decade, with robot workers possibly surpassing human employees at one of the world’s biggest companies, according to Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood.
Amazon‘s use of automated robots will dramatically change the company’s workforce in the coming years, the portfolio manager said Wednesday.
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“Amazon is adding about a thousand robots a day. … If you compare the number of robots Amazon has to the number of employees, it’s about a third. And we believe that by the year 2030 Amazon can have more robots than employees,” Wood said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“So we are just at the dawn of the robotics age. And I would say artificial intelligence and battery technology are all a part of that movement as well,” she added.
The robot revolution will not be limited to Amazon; it will spread across manufacturing, Wood said, as improving technology and falling costs speed up the transition.
“If you look at the cost declines, which drive all of our models … for every cumulative doubling in the number of robots produced, the cost declines are in the 50-60% range,” she said.
Amazon had more than 1.6 million workers at the end of 2021, according to its most recent annual report. The company is expected to release fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday.
However, like many other tech companies, Amazon has begun to lay off workers in recent months. Amazon announced more than 18,000 job cuts in January, though that leaves company still well above its pre-pandemic level of employees.
Wood’s bets on new technologies made her a star investor in 2020, when the Fed cut interest rates and the work from home boom fueled interest in high-growth tech stocks. Some of those stocks are back in favor again, as Wood’s Ark Innovation ETF (ARKK) just finished its best month ever, rising 27.8% in January.
However, the rally only made a small dent in the fund’s losses over the past two years. The ETF is still more than 70% below its peak from February 2021.