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  • Writer's pictureDavid Fiore


Have you ever read a “How Would You Survive As…” book? They portray long-gone civilizations, like the ancient Egyptians or the Vikings, and show you how people lived day-to-day. The books portray the innovations that affected life, like how the lever and wheel allowed the Egyptians to build the pyramids.

It's the innovations that so often will define how a culture lives.

So think about the installment that’s yet to be written, “How Would You Survive As A 21st Century Global Citizen.” It’s going to have a huge section devoted to technology innovations. And featured in that section will be smart companies like Apple, Google and Amazon, which keep finding ways to deliver technology as artful convenience.

The latest evolution is Amazon Go. Have you seen this? Download the Amazon Go app, carry your smartphone into the store – can’t get in without the app – then grab what you want and leave. Just. Leave.

No checkouts, no paper or plastic, no temptations from impulse-driven candy or gossip rags. Just take your groceries and walk out of the store like you’re a shop-lifter. Only you’re not a shop-lifter, you’re a consumer of the 21st Century!

Bloomberg calls it a watershed moment. No shit.

Here’s how the tech works. An elaborate network of eyes in the sky (in the ceiling, actually) and near-field communications technology notes when you lift a product off the shelf and adds the price for that item to your bill. Put the item back, the price comes off the bill. That’s pretty much it. See details in the video below.

Um, only available in Seattle, Washington. For now.

Great innovation fires the imagination. Here are some add-ons I’d like to see: Make your shopping list in the Amazon Go app, then, when in the store the app can let you know if you’ve forgotten to grab one of your list items (I do it all the time); or if you grab a pricey item the app could recommend a brand that’s cheaper and show you reviews comparing them; or the app might even recommend a brand that’s more in line with your fair trade ethos (yes, Amazon already knows about your fair trade ethos).

How about partnering the app with a portable Alexa-like shopping companion. Ask her, “Alexa, where do you keep the plum sauce?” Or even, “Alexa, do these pants make my butt look big?”

Yes, we should fear the prying eye of corporations and Big Brother and all that. But I want to first allow myself to be awed by a shining example of technology that can make life better, and will no doubt be remembered, along with the internet and self-driving cars, as a defining moment in modern culture. Some day we'll wonder how we lived without.

So, Amazon, is this store scalable?

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