Technology Is Taking Over… Is That Good or Bad?

If you’ve been around for a while like I have, you’ve seen many changes during your lifetime.

Most of these changes have been for the better. Advancements in medical knowledge and treatments have saved or prolonged countless lives.

Improvements in transportation, machinery and home appliances have made our lives more convenient.

Growth in the communications arena has allowed us to stay on top of global events. And keep in touch with loved ones and friends like never before.

Amazon Changed the Rules

But are all advancements in technology good ones? Is it possible the rise in automation and the increase in artificial intelligence is having more negative effects than positive ones?

At the end I’ll ask what you think. For now, let me provide you with several examples of changing technology. You can be the judge of whether these changes are beneficial or detrimental.

First let’s look at cashier-less stores. We’re all aware of how Amazon has changed the purchase-making culture.

Amazon has made it possible to get almost everything you need or want online. You rarely need to leave your home anymore.

Some Sam’s Clubs Are Cashier-less

It’s difficult for many businesses – especially big ones that have put tons of funds into brick and mortar stores – to compete.

As an outcome, most of these businesses are trying to cut expenses. One way is by eliminating cashiers.

Walmart, for example, has been experimenting with this concept at some Sam’s Club locations. Walmart owns Sam’s Club.

Shoppers use an app to get items without the need to stand in a checkout line. They plug in their card information to make those purchases. Amazon pioneered this concept with its Amazon Go stores.

App Guides You Around the Store

The Sam’s Club app also helps customers navigate their way toward items they wish to get. In addition, it can answer verbal questions regarding item locations.

There’s another way to use the app to its full advantage. You can ask it to suggest items based on your shopping history.

Jaime Iannone is the CEO of SamsClub.com. He says, “We’ll use all available technologies… to redefine the retail experience.” These new stores are being called “innovation labs” and “tech incubators.”

If you ever watched the Green Acres TV show, you’ll note this is a far cry from when residents of Hooterville ventured into Drucker’s General Store to pick up groceries and chat with Sam. It’s a new world out there.

The Eyes Have It – Stores Watching Shoppers

Here’s another technology advance. The next time you grab an item out of a cooler at a grocery or liquor store, there’s a chance you are being watched.

No, I don’t mean by a store camera behind you or to the side of you. I mean by a camera you can’t see in front of your face.

Cooler Screens is a company funded by Microsoft. It uses face detection technology to see shoppers’ faces. That’s for the purpose of determining their approximate age and gender.

After gathering this information, Cooler Screens can sell it to businesses that would like nothing more than to know who’s getting what. That way they can better target their advertising toward that demographic.

You Buy, They Spy

Iris-scanning is one of the ways Cooler Screens determines a person’s age and gender. And maybe their nationality.

They measure and analyze the width of peoples’ eyes. And the distance between their lips and their nose. As well as conducting other micro measurements.

Among the companies that have signed up to test out Cooler Systems technology are Nestle, MillerCoors and Conagra Brands.

Privacy rights advocates are not happy about this use of technology. And they fear it could extend to pharmacies.

Self-Driving Car Fails to Break

And now for an outdoor technology advance. If you were crossing the street and you saw a self-driving car approaching, what would you do? Run forward? Run back where you were? Or just assume it will stop?

Last year in Tempe, Arizona, an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a 49-year-old woman. While she was walking her bike across the street.

Now, there was a human “safety driver” in the car who should have applied the brakes when she realized the car wasn’t stopping. As it turned out, she was streaming a TV show on her phone at the time and apparently not watching the road closely enough.

Uber settled a lawsuit out of court with the victim’s family and temporarily grounded its vehicle fleet. But testing resumed nine months later in Pittsburgh.

What Do You Think?

Earlier I promised you a shot to chime in with your opinion about the rise in technology.

Do you like the idea of cashier-less stores? Or does that take too much of the human element out of shopping?

Do you like the idea of a cooler camera capturing your gender and age, then providing that information to businesses? Or is that an invasion of privacy?

Do you like the idea of self-driving cars? Or is there too great a chance the human safety drivers won’t be as focused as they should be?

Please feel free to respond to one or more of these questions. I’d love to hear what you think about all this.

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