D.L. STEWART: Taking over the world, one drone at a time


We have survived attempts to take over the world by everyone from Nazis to commies to yuppies. But do we still have enough fortitude left to outlast Jeff Bezos?

When Bezos recently announced plans to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, or whatever he happened to have in his pocket at the time, my stepson declared it was all part of a plot for Amazon to take over the world. I was skeptical, because occasionally he exaggerates. I’ve had to tell the kid a million times not to do that.

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But then I read a story in the business section of The New York Times a few days later saying Amazon’s move would “hasten its plan to — what else? — take over the world.” So now I’m worried.

Thus far, Amazon hasn’t intruded into my life very much, although I did discover I can’t watch a new television series called “I Love Dick” because I don’t have something called Amazon Prime.

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Still another story in the business section detailed how Amazon is on the verge of taking control of other areas. It has a grocery store in Seattle employing no salespeople or checkout lines, with delivery by Amazon Go drones. The company justifies that by pointing out how much time it will save us, because 16 percent of Americans spend nearly an hour shopping for food every weekend. I believe that. Last weekend I spent an hour in the checkout line behind a woman who paid for two weeks’ worth of groceries with quarters.

Mostly, though, all this automation is starting to look like another slip down the slope of unemployment. There are customer service robots in the aisles of Lowes in California to answer stupid questions about socket wrenches. Self-service kiosks at McDonald’s and Panera Bread. Pizza delivered by robots.

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Another story reported that something called Amazon Prime Wardrobe will make it the largest apparel retailer in the U.S. by the end of this year. Amazon controls 74 percent of e-book sales. It’s the dominant provider of cloud computing, which is used among others, by the CIA. Sort some reason, a relationship between Amazon and the CIA makes me just a bit nervous.

“… It has become increasingly clear that parts of every job will be automated,” the story predicted. Another report said that 58 percent of the jobs salespeople currently do will be automated in three years.

In other words, if Amazon keeps this up eventually we’ll all be unemployed and have nothing to do but sit at home in our Amazon Prime Wardrobe bath robes and eat potato chips from Whole Foods delivered by Amazon drones while we watch television.

On Amazon Prime.



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