Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 5th Dec 2016 21:08 UTC
In the News

Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)

Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you're done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we'll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.

I find this absolutely fascinating and immensely desirable.

I live in a small rural town in the middle of nowhere, and only very recently did we finally get a brand new supermarket with the latest self-checkout and contactless payment technologies (voted most beautiful supermarket in the country, I might add, and a 73-year old family business - we're proud of our own), and it's just so much more convenient than old-fashioned cash registers. I know a number of people prefer being served by a cashier, but honestly - to me it's just wasted time I could spend on something useful.

In any event, the idea of just taking stuff off the shelves, without even having to scan them or pay for them at a terminal seems like the next logical step. I don't like the idea of online grocery shopping (I want to see how fresh my produce is before buying it), so this is an excellent compromise.

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Anon
Member since:
2006-01-02

.... and a huge data centre of servers to do the computing.

I can't see this happening at your local supermarket any day soon. No doubt Amazon have a hundreds cameras tracking your movements in such a store, and are sending this information to their cloud for processing.

They can make such a concept viable at the moment, as they have the raw computing power and money for the initial capital outlay.

Makes you wonder what jobs uni/college students or lower-class will have in the future, given everything 'remedial' is being automated.

Reply Score: 3

feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

Automation comes only if it is cheaper than manual labor, however margins fall with competition, so prices fall as well. In the end, part times jobs can provide similar living conditions that we have right now, and the situation will stabilize.

Though it is not natural, or at least not natural now to work 4 days, I could do that, but 1 days of extra work seems to worth the price. I wonder sometimes, what would I choose: 25% percent of pay raise or 4 days of work week with same salary? I am afraid I would choose the first one.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

feamatar,

Automation comes only if it is cheaper than manual labor, however margins fall with competition, so prices fall as well. In the end, part times jobs can provide similar living conditions that we have right now, and the situation will stabilize.


In theory, sure, but that's not what actually happens. Automation displaces workers, who are left competing for fewer jobs and less income. The automated cashiers here have not brought down prices, at best they might stop prices from rising as fast. I'm paying significantly higher prices for food now than ten years ago before automated cashiers. For example bread I was buying for $0.99 is now $2.50. Same with fruits and veggies. Sometimes I walk out of the grocery store without what I walked in to buy because it's too expensive when it's not on sale. Between fewer opportunities, consolidation, and wage stagnation, those who've been displaced are doing exceptionally badly paying higher prices and making less income. Obviously it's not just grocery stores but any occupation that faces the threat of automation.


The government steps in and gives assistance to 20% of the population in the form food stamps to make sure nobody physically starves, but the fact that this is necessary is a clear sign that things are broken. The thing is america is not poor by any stretch of the imagination and is setting records for GDP, the problem is purely economic imbalance - one that is largely caused by automation and the fact that owners simply don't need hired labor anymore. Instead of redistributing revenue in the form of paychecks, they just keep it themselves. Because, why not.

This is why Trump's motion to slash corporate taxes by half isn't going to work...sure employers will have more money to theoretically afford more labor. But in reality owners aren't suddenly going to be charitable, if they spend it at all, they're going to get the best bang for their buck with more cost-saving automation.


Just to be clear, I'm not against automation. In a utopia almost everything related to work could be automated. However this is fundamentally incompatible with capitalism, when you really think about it. If all work is automated and you don't own the means of production then you have absolutely nothing to offer to produce income for yourself.

So while I know automation could do a lot to make our lives better and be a net gain for humanity, it will be a destructive force for a great deal of the population if we fail to fix the economic models that disproportionately distribute the wealth to the upper class owners at the expense of lower class workers.

Edited 2016-12-06 00:55 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 6