The US is about to enter a new era of automation, as artificial intelligence takes over manufacturing jobs, and humans take over the roles of the world’s biggest companies.
But not everyone is happy.
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether some robots are being abused to steal jobs from humans, and its investigation is taking place on a national scale.
It is the first time the agency has brought a case against a major American company, a person familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The FTC is asking to determine whether companies like Apple and Amazon are abusing their software to rob employees of their jobs or other workers are using the software to cheat the system.
The investigation is not the first of its kind in the US.
In 2016, the FTC charged several tech companies with stealing hundreds of thousands of jobs from people at a time in what it described as a “fraud on the American people.”
A company called Zillow is facing similar lawsuits.
It was not immediately clear how the FTC would determine if a company was abusing its software or stealing people’s jobs.
Apple and Amazon declined to comment.
Some companies have said they are not guilty of any wrongdoing.
Amazon, for instance, says it has hired “hundreds of thousands” of workers over the years, and that it has no plans to do so again.
But some are accusing Apple of not complying with federal labor laws and using robots to automate some jobs in its warehouses, which are being shuttered to make way for the artificial intelligence system.
In the past, the commission has been investigating companies that were accused of stealing workers’ jobs, including for years against GE, Nike and Intel.
Last month, the agency also launched an investigation into Google, accusing it of using its software to “rob” drivers, to make it easier for them to search for items on Google.
Google has denied the accusations.
In its complaint against Apple, the federal commission also accused the company of using a program called Skynet to steal employees’ jobs from them.
The program, according to the complaint, was used by Apple to replace workers at factories in China with machines that are programmed to “be indistinguishable from human employees.”