I went into surveillance capitalism’s heart and got a prepackaged sandwich as lunch.
This is how I felt at Amazon Fresh in Washington D.C. The company made famous for bringing goods to your door is now expanding its presence into traditional brick-and-mortar spaces—but with a nontraditional tech twist. D.C.’s Amazon Fresh store doesn’t have any cash registers. To enter, shopper will need to scan the QR code attached to their Amazon account. Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology synced cameras track the items that you take off shelves while you shop. The technology calculates the price of each item you take, debits your Amazon account, and then sends an email receipt.
It is very easy and seamless. Not everyone likes it. Amazon Fresh can cause anxiety about the possible corporate panopticon dystopia. Amazon collects tiny bits of data from every avocado or bag of chips that you purchase and keeps them safe in its digital vaults. You don’t know exactly what the data will be used or who it might be used by. However, the mass usage of store credit cards and credit cards shows that most Americans are already willing to give up on their right to privacy in grocery shopping.
Amazon’s model is my preference over D.C. supermarkets, in which a security guard reminds customers to use a mask while they wait for cashiers inspect each item.