Thursday, December 8, 2016

Amazon Go Means More than Just Job Losses, it will Rstructure the Economy

Amazon launched a real-world store that allows customers to walk, take what they want and leave. There is no money, no queues. As explained in the FAQ on Amazon Go:

Our non-cash shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in autodidact cars: computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. Simply walk to Our technology automatically detects when products are removed or returned to the shelves and stored in a virtual shopping cart. When you have finished shopping, you can leave the store. Shortly thereafter, it will be charged to your Amazon and will send you a receipt account.

This new business model is not only a challenge, established traders, but raises serious questions about the future of labor and the changing nature of the economy in general. In addition, it suggests that the role of the government will change, which implies less with the regulation of companies and more with the redistribution of wealth.

At this point, the store is only available to Amazon employees, although public versions must be opened in the US. In early 2017. An Australian version is probably a bit later. In fact, Amazon is preparing to launch a number of services in Australia, such as AmazonFresh, a grocery delivery service.

All these are prone to shake up the different posters (Coles / Woolworths, David Jones / Myer) dominate some retail sectors in Australia, but Amazon GB is likely to be the real disruptor.

The consequences for employment seem obvious. In the United States, about five million people are employed in retail trade, while Australia has 1.3 million and Britain has $ 2.8 million. Id, so, stores like Amazon could mean major job losses. Retailers can achieve savings of something in the order of 15% in operating costs, an amount that is likely to be very attractive technology. And, in fact, it's just the next logical development of automated funds already in use at most supermarkets or self check-in McDonald's already unfolding.

Of course, Amazon Go can also create work, probably, value-added services related to things such as return process or gift packaging, but that is unlikely to offset other job losses. It will also require people involved in inventory control and logistics, again, not much. Amazon is already well advanced in using robotics to do these things, with years of experience developing these technologies in their "satisfaction centers" (the name of fear they use for their stores).

So, anyway, it's hard to see how an operation like Amazon Go ultimately does not mean fewer jobs.

Is everything bad? Of course not. That is, there are no waiting lines or payment and shipping? From the customer's perspective, what more can you ask for?

Amazon Go is another growing problem as well. It has not been a concern for some time that cities and other retail outlets dig as people buy more and more online but imagine if all of the grocery stores were like Amazon GB No queues. It is easy to imagine a bustling city or a suburban center where people come to buy the things they want are less stressed and are therefore willing to stay in public spaces by listening to street musicians or drinking coffee. Who knows what other services may prevail?

But there is one more important point to make.

Amazon GB, with companies like Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, and even Google and Facebook, are part of a fundamental restructuring of the economy and the work that goes with it. It is not simply that technology is losing jobs. It changes the relationship between companies and employees, governments and citizens.

We pass a globalized world of global giants making a giant network technology.

In the first, the government's role was to coordinate and create local and international markets, as well as to define the rules under which we have all performed. The companies themselves tend to do one thing - which cars, for example - and benefited from a permanent full-time workforce. This provided the security and prosperity of an important middle class.

In the networked world of technology companies, companies are no longer independent silos that are one thing. They tend to be one
That is to say, by breaking the link between survival and work, UBI allows us all to not only benefit from the technology, but to reinvent what we even mean by the concept of work.

Aside from climate change, this reinvention of work is the most wicked problem facing humanity, and we can see the unease it causes reflected in the politics surrounding Brexit, and of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and Pauline Hanson. What all these politicians have in common is they promise to “bring back the jobs” because they understand how important a decent job is to most people.

But developments like Amazon Go are a sharp reminder of how hollow such promises are. Our societies are being transformed right before our eyes. Automation is increasingly displacing human workers and so the politicians we need are not those playing on our insecurities by conjuring an image of the past, but those who can offer us a realistic vision of what comes next.

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