Investigations show employees in India were behind Amazon's cashier-less marketplaces. Convenience does not work without exploitation.

A dog next to a woman holding an Amazon shopping bag

“Just walk out” was paid without a cash register: that's history now Photo: Lia Toby/empics/Picture Alliance

“Have you thought about tampons?” – In the unstaffed store, the artificial intelligence also kindly recommends adding cold medicine to weekend purchases. You can tell by the client's posture and voice modulation that a cold is coming. Digital ad prices adjust in milliseconds to fit the person in front of the shelf. There are no cash registers. The sensors recorded the merchandise and billed it directly to the credit card. Without waiting times or extra payment process, with the purchase already in the backpack, the customer walks out the door.

“Just walk out” is a concept from the Internet company Amazon for making purchases without paying. According to a report from the news portal. Information However, the experiment with cashierless grocery stores is ending. Apparently, the problem is not just the high price of the technology. The enthusiasm and willingness of customers to subject their behavior to the demands of technology, as is often the case when “new” ideas from the realm of digital exchange fantasies are used, also appear to fall short of customer expectations. supplier.

A notably critical aspect of Just Walk Out stores is the fact that, contrary to the original idea, a lot of invisible human labor has to flow into the stores. There are reports that more than a thousand click workers in India monitor all purchasing processes in Amazon stores in great detail.

The cashierless business apparently doesn't work as well as advertised. The fact that human manual labor is hidden behind a sterile façade of pseudo-digital worlds of experience, cleansed of any memory of blood and sweat, is not even news. Whether in Kenya, India or Nigeria, a growing army of low-paid digital precariat is busy processing wasted data from the world's richest regions.

The consequences are borne by the general public.

While machines record, process and feed back vast amounts of data into the ever-increasing digital background noise, people have to constantly compensate for increasing errors and inaccuracies. If they don't, services and products will become increasingly unusable.

Anyone who has ever tried to clarify a travel complaint or request to understand a form using an AI-controlled chatbot has already encountered systemic problems on a manageable scale. Not to mention the rapid spread of misinformation leading to potentially catastrophic and fatal decisions.

Because that is what happens when digital transformation is subject to the profit interests of international corporations: all non-commercial activity is excluded, while global monopolists seek to sell their dysfunctional services with the help of global colonial exploitation.

Dividends increase, while responsibility for the consequences of uncontrolled profit-taking remains with the general public. Whatever the name of capitalism's next big thing, there is one thing that will never change under certain conditions: even if it is occasionally developed and produced to satisfy a real need, the main concern is always profit. And this is largely generated in the brutal labor hells and sweatshops of this world. It doesn't matter if it happens in Manchester in 1850 or in Bangalore in 2024.