Thank GOD. I was just about to write a 20,000-word thinkin' piece about how dangerously close human beings have been getting to their food sources lately. But luckily, Seattle's own Amazon dot com has stepped in and saved me from my task. Today, the mega-retailer announced the launch of Amazon Go, a convenience store designed to end the thousand inconveniences of convenience stores. Behold:
Forget for a moment that weird patriarchy-perpetuating cupcake scene and just repeat the following words to yourself: "Computer vision. Deep Learning Algorithms. Sensor fusion."
With this "just walk out" technology, Amazon is poised to remove the "service" from service industries, and it can't happen fast enough for this on-the-go guy. Talking to butchers and bakers and the people who work at the deli? UGH. Catching five minutes of a soccer game with the guy who owns the bodega down the street? FUCK THAT. I want my food, I want it wrapped in plastic, I want to pay for it with my phone, and I want all that so I can spend more time crying at my desk.
Speaking of food—what's on offer? The Seattle Times tells us:
The store features ready-to-eat meals and snacks prepared by on-site chefs or local bakeries. There are also essentials such as bread and milk, as well as high-end cheese and chocolate.
Amazon says there will be well-known brands as well as 'special finds we’re excited to introduce to customers.' That includes an 'Amazon Meal Kit,' which contains ingredients needed to make a meal for two in 30 minutes
Okay fine. If this convenience store helps tech workers with demanding jobs eat better / more locally, then bully for them, I guess.
But one small thing. If these smartstores or phonemarts or Amazones or whatever really cool name we start calling them begin to proliferate, guess who might be disproportionally inconvenienced? According the Ethnic Business Coalition, immigrants and refugees own 53 percent of the country's grocery stores. And, as the Times notes, "The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a report this year that cashiers were the second-largest occupation, with 3.5 million employed in the U.S." So, you know. them.
I'd reckon most groceries pay their fair share in taxes, but I'm not sure. On a list of companies who pay an astonishingly low effective federal corporate income tax rate, Amazon is joined by Casey's General Stores, a convenience store chain with locations all over the midwest.