Amazon Go - the future of retail?


#1

Amazon announced a brick & mortar store today, called Amazon Go. It’s a retail (food-oriented) store with no cashiers or registers. You scan in, then simply grab what you want. When you leave the store, you’re charged for what you took. There’s an article about in Fortune:

This feels like the future of retail to me. The promo video is pretty cool:


#2

If that store ends up working in practice, it would easily be my go-to grocery shopping destination.


#3

Amazon doing the end-run around robots replacing retail jobs. Why bother with robots, when you can just skip straight ahead to self-serve and leave?


#4

I assume there’ll be death turrets at the exit to avoid shoplifting. Or maybe drones that chase you down for immobilization.


#5

If this ends up working I can imagine most of retail will end up being like this. So throw another gigantic group of people into the unemployment line. The big question, of course, is how they control shoplifting. And can you walk in without scanning your phone.

And heaven forbid someone makes a machine that can duplicate a Starbucks barista - then unemployment would zoom to like 10%!


#6

What’s this about computer vision and sensor fusion? They aren’t just putting cheapo RFID tags on everything and detecting them on the walk out? (maybe it’s both, I guess)

Makes me think there is room for error on that bill on the way out. Can you imagine arguing with someone in customer service about “No, I didn’t end up taking that cupcake, I put it back on the shelf. Look, I know you have video of me taking it, I’m saying you’re missing the video where I put it back. No, I didn’t misplace it.” I wonder if you have to put everything back right where you found it. I wonder if there are people to review the algorithm’s video->customer action decisions as they happen to guide the algorithm.

Yes, I realize there is room for error with people involved as well. Maybe even a greater chance for error. Also, my background Master’s and ABD research in grad school was computer vision, this is all fascinating to me.


#7

This seems like magic to me. At least the way they show it, with the system knowing what you took off the shelf in real time.

If it works, this is definitely the future. Why would any company employ check-out staff if they don’t have to? All they need is a few security people by the front door in case of shoplifting.


#8

Well, they’ll still need human stockers for a bit. Eventually, they’ll be able to use robots for much of the manual labor of stocking shelves, but even the Amazon Warehouses need to use humans along with robots for their operations for now.


#9

Meh, retail. I’d rather have some drones bring me my stuff.


#10

In a “bring on the dystopia” kind of way, I like the idea of not being able to walk in without scanning your phone/retina/RFID implant.

“We’re sorry. Your existing balance and credit rating are currently too low for the Target® Shopping Plaza. Our records show that you can shop nearby at [Walmart] and [the Village Pantry]. Have a nice day!”


#11

Your phone battery better not die while in the store!


#12

You’d better not violate the Amazon Prime Directives.


#13

Does anyone know of any articles, outlets, or forums where serious discussion is being had regarding how people will be supported in a robotic future and how we can transition to that state? I mean, it’s seems obvious that at some point people will not work, but I can’t fathom how we could get from here to there in an orderly fashion.

The only context I ever see this discussed in is “Futurology” type forums which always give short shrift to the nitty-gritty policy side of things.


#14

Isn’t there a thread on here? I might have muted it.

I think it’ll make for interesting times, but humans and human labor are very adaptable, so we’all figure something out.


#15

I seem to recall there being a thread about it as well, but maybe I’m just conflating the various threads where UBI comes up. It’s certainly been discussed on this forum.


#16

I suspect it’s a future of software and hardware developers, creatives and systems like Kickstarter and Etsy, with support professions servicing their needs.


#17

It’s happening


#18

I think this shows how BS the appeal to the transistion to a “service oriented” economy by Silicon Valley et al really is. Labor isn’t a victim - to them that labor is the fundamental problem and eliminating it is the answer.


#19

Employees that work 24/7 and don’t demand pesky rights. You can exploit them all you want and brag about it at the dinner table.


#20

Another line of work for many replaced by the machines it seems.
Only consumer action can prevent this; so the outcome is unavoidable.