Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The future of retail or the end?

The robot store. They don't sell robots. They sell snacks. The store is a robot.

For the past year,  Amazon employees have been test driving Amazon Go, an experimental convenience store in downtown Seattle. The idea is to let consumers walk in, pick up items and then pay for them without ever standing in line at a cashier. Amazon is vague on the mechanics, but the store relies on a mobile app and some of the same sensing technology that powers self-driving cars to figure out who is buying what.

Employees have tried to fool the technology. One day, three enterprising Amazonians donned bright yellow Pikachu costumes and cruised around grabbing sandwiches, drinks and snacks. The algorithms nailed it, according to a person familiar with the situation, correctly identifying the employees and charging their Amazon accounts, even though they were obscured behind yellow polyester.

Look for this type of thing to pop up first in high-end fashionable neighborhoods, as a novelty gimmick. Look for it to end up becoming the standard in ghettos where being a cashier is as dangerous as being the bomb disposal guy.

Also look for supermarkets to fire all their workers. And McDonalds. Definitely McDonalds is going to fire -everybody-.

Welcome to the brave new world, where Siri asks you if you'd like fries with that. Now might be a good time to snip all your credit cards, shitcan your smart phone, and do everything in cash. Maybe take up wearing a full-coverage motorcycle helmet to foil the facial recognition cameras. I can see that becoming fashionable.

I can also see personal service and a human attendant becoming a luxury perk. They'd be like Geisha. No sex, you pay them to pretend they are interested in you. Like a Tokyo host club. How sad is that?

Personally, I don't think the robot store thing will sell, long term. But we shall see.

The Phantom

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