A toy robot

Ocado’s building a robot army

Yes, we do mean the posh online supermarket

In the last six months, three of the world's biggest supermarkets have turned to Ocado, the online grocery shop set up 18 years ago by three Goldman Sachs Bankers.

What it means: It's because Ocado has spent years developing a new distribution centre in the UK. The 240,000 square foot centre, powered entirely by Ocado's own technology and hardware (read robots) can pull together the average order in minutes, as opposed to a couple hours.

It's a huge investment, and though the technology makes Ocado's online shop better and faster, the ultimate aim is to sell it on to other retailers. The three deals Ocado's made so far have seen its share price rise by 117 per cent (that means that investors think Ocado's business is going to get more valuable, so they're buying up shares now).

There are a couple of issues at stake here, one is the bet Ocado's made on investing in  . Innovation is a big economic buzz word – essentially that you need to keep making things work better and faster to stay ahead of the game.

But the other big issue is one of automation. There's a big worry at the moment about what we're going to do when robots start doing our jobs better, faster, and cheaper than we can. Currently Ocado insists that its warehouses still employ people – they need someone to fix the robots for a start. But the ultimate aim in all this is to get stuff done without needing to pay people to do it: what do we do for work once that happens?

Read the full story (Reuters)

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Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?