After nearly a year of testing – plus a few highly publicized practice runs involving reporters from a handful of influential tech media outlets like the New York Times – Amazon will open its small-format Seattle test store, dubbed “Amazon Go” on Monday.
The store will feature cashier-free checkouts, allowing customers who install the “Amazon Go” app to simply pick up an item and walk out with it. The launch was supposed to happen earlier, but was delayed due to bugs, we pointed out late last year.
Details of the shopping experience provided to the mainstream media sound like something wholly different than what consumers are used to…
The Seattle store, known as Amazon Go, relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back. Cash registers and checkout lines become superfluous – customers are billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.
For grocers, the store’s opening heralds another potential disruption at the hands of the world’s largest online retailer, which bought high-end supermarket chain Whole Foods Market last year for $13.7 billion. Long lines can deter shoppers, so a company that figures out how to eradicate wait times will have an advantage.
Amazon did not discuss if or when it will add more Go locations, and reiterated it has no plans to add the technology to the larger and more complex Whole Foods stores.
The opening date, Jan. 22, could very well be remembered as a milestone in the history of consumerism, as Reuters pointed out. While many assumed Amazon would quickly adapt the Amazon Go format for use at its Whole Foods stores, the company says it presently has no plans to integrate the technology with WFM.
Bloomberg reported back in November that that the Amazon Go team had shifted from hiring the engineers and research scientists needed to perfect the platform to hiring construction managers and marketers necessary to build and promote the stores to consumers – a decision that likely signaled Amazon’s intentions to take the concept nation-wide.
But apparently Jeff Bezos has decided that crushing rival grocery stores is a conquest that could wait until 2019, or perhaps beyond. According to the NYT, there were 3.5 million grocery store jobs in the US, as of 2016.
However, according to NYT, there’s been speculation that Amazon could sell the system to other retailers, much as it sells its cloud computing services to other companies.
But rather than eliminating jobs, Amazon says its technology simply changes the role of employees, who will be assigned to different tasks. Though the impact that Amazon’s other businesses have had on retail and other industries would suggest that this notion is a fiction invented by the company’s communications department.
The Amazon Go prototype opened to Amazon employees on Dec. 5, 2016. At the time, Amazon said it expected members of the public could begin using the store in early 2017.
But, as Reuters pointed out, there have been some unexpected obstacles involving the store’s complex system of sensors and cameras. People familiar with Amazon’s operations said these included correctly identifying shoppers with similar body types.
Children who were brought into the store during the course of testing created mayhem by picking up items and putting them back in the wrong places. Hopefully, Amazon has since optimized its technology to account for this.
One Amazon executive told Reuters that four years of planning went into Amazon Go before the prototype store was even built.
Gianna Puerini, vice president of Amazon Go, said in an interview that the store worked very well throughout the test phase, thanks to four years of prior legwork.
“This technology didn’t exist,” Puerini said, walking through the Seattle store. “It was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”
“If you look at these products, you can see they’re super similar,” she said of two near-identical Starbucks drinks next to each other on a shelf. One had light cream and the other had regular, and Amazon’s technology learned to tell them apart.
The 1800-square-foot (167-square-meter) store is located in an Amazon office building in Seattle. In a brief description of the customer experience, Reuters explained that, to start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a gated turnstile.
In an interview with the Times, Amazon representatives were tight-lipped about how the store’s complex system of cameras and sensors would work, other than to say it involves sophisticated computer vision and machine learning software. The sensors are mostly out of sight, though customers can, in some areas, see clusters of small cameras hanging from the ceiling.
Ready-to-eat lunch items greet shoppers when they enter. Deeper into the store, shoppers can find a small selection of grocery items, including meats and meal kits. An Amazon employee checks IDs in the store’s wine and beer section.
Sleek black cameras monitoring from above and weight sensors in the shelves help Amazon determine exactly what people take.
If someone passes back through the gates with an item, his or her associated account is charged. If a shopper puts an item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from his or her virtual cart.
Clearly struggling to list off aspects of the shopping experience that would be familiar to customers, Reuters reported that products sold at Amazon Go locations contain price stickers similar to traditional grocery stores. But, judging by the Times’s description, most of the experience will feel completely alien: The paper described passing through the store’s turnstiles as similar to entering the subway.
The experience is more closely akin to shoplifting, the paper noted. But, assuming you have an Amazon, account, actually shoplifting from the store is exceedingly difficult, according to the Times – a testament to the sophistication of its system of sensors.
Also there are no shopping carts or baskets inside Amazon Go. Instead, customers put items directly into the shopping bag they’ll walk out with. Every time customers grab an item off a shelf, Amazon says the product is automatically put into the shopping cart of their online account. If customers put the item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from their virtual basket.
Once the store opens for business today, expect a rash of customer reviews and – considering mankind’s aptitude for rooting out flaws – complaints. However, one thing is clear: Regardless of the initial reaction, this is a glimpse into the future of the retail industry – a future that will inevitably require the employment of fewer humans.
In 2017 YouTube tried to silence, shadow ban and memory hole just about every content creator who was going against the status quo and challenging the system in any way. The “YouTube Adpocolypse” as it became known seemed devastating at first for those of us in the field of independent media…until the free market responded by building a new video sharing platform built off the steemit blockchain designed to give back to the very creators who build it up with payments in the form of SBD or cryptocurrency know as “Steem Dollars”. In this video Dan Dicks of Press For Truth interviews the creator of this revolutionary website Adrien who goes by @heimindanger on Steemit, about some of the recent updates the DTube team has made (including an exciting announcement about a new upcoming feature) and about how blockchain technology is currently disrupting traditional centralized platforms in favor of uncensored decentralized platforms.
According to Pulitzer prize winner Glenn Greenwald, the Israeli government — in partnership with Facebook — have begun aggressively targeting Palestinian voices on social media for censorship;
“The meetings — called for and presided over by one of the most extremist and authoritarian Israeli officials, pro-settlement Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — came after Israel threatened Facebook that its failure to voluntarily comply with Israeli deletion orders would result in the enactment of laws requiring Facebook to do so, upon pain of being severely fined or even blocked in the country… Ever since, Facebook has been on a censorship rampage against Palestinian activists…”
This isn’t much of a surprise though, considering the Times of Israel reported in early January of 2016 that the government’s military censor had been trying to control much of what could and could not be posted on Facebook.
Interestingly (or unsurprisingly), the Intercept claims Israeli calls for Palestinian bloodshed remain largely untouched by way of comparison.
Israeli leadership say they’re only targeting social media accounts that inspire “incitement” against their country and people, but critics — including myself — believe this is simply an indirect form of censorship, considering that they have a very well documented history of aggressively targeting and silencing media correspondents.
In fact, journalists frequently engage in self censorship to avoid the Israeli government’s reproach. I don’t blame them for this chosen course of action either, since Israeli forces have (successfully) targeted media personnel for assassination in the past, by simply using the excuse that they were affiliated with terrorists. Human Rights Watch has accused the regime of “war crimes” because of this.
They also recently arrested a woman for simply filming a live recording on Facebook, of an incident between her daughter and the military, claiming she was engaging in “incitement“. Israeli officials are quick to go after anything that even vaguely resembles resistance to their illegal occupations and colonization of Palestine.
It should also be mentioned that Israeli authorities passed a law to censor websites engaged in “promoting criminal or terror activity” — another vague generalization, ambiguous enough to justify shutting down any pro Palestinian website or group that rejects Israeli foreign occupation.
Facebook also recently deleted the Facebook and Instagram accounts of the head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov, simply because the U.S. government decided to place him on a list of people that should be sanctioned.
Now, don’t get me wrong, to the best of my limited knowledge this guy is a very bad person, but just because the U.S. government says someone should be sanctioned does not justify censoring them, for the obvious fact that the U.S. government has a long history of deception and corruption — as well as supporting dictators, drug lords and even terrorists — and thus simply cannot be relied upon to be the arbiter of Truth.
Germany’s government has taken even greater repressive steps towards imposing censorship; On January 1st The German Network Enforcement Law (NetzDG) was passed, which allows the authorities to censor any website they claim is involved in the spread of “hate speech,” or “fake news“. Social media outlets that do not obey the government’s demands, to have content removed within 24 hours (7 days for more “complex cases“), will be fined up to to €50 million (roughly $58 million).
According to the Guardian, far right wing deputy leader Beatrix von Storch had her Facebook account suspended as a result of this law, and is currently facing potential criminal prosecution because of her behavior.
The staunch nationalist politician was quoted as accusing the Cologne police department of appeasing “barbaric, gang-raping Muslim hordes of men” when they tweeted an Arabic Happy News Years message (they did the same in French, German, and English). Twitter temporarily banned her account as well for this.
Do I agree with her opinion or method of expressing it, no I most certainly do not. But this is a slippery slope that leads to irrational censorship, because emotions and feelings are starting to override logic and reason. When someone insults me online I debate with them, and rebuke them logically and intelligently. If they persist and are clearly irrational trolls I simply block them, just as everyone online can do when they are confronted with an unpleasant human being. It’s really not rocket science.
This censorship started long before this law even came into effect though. According to the New York Times, 36 homes were raided by German police for “hateful postings over social media” last year. And according to a posting made by Facebook’s European Vice President for Public Policy back on June 19, 2017, “In the last two months, we’ve deleted an average of 3,500 posts per week, which were reported as hate speech in Germany. This means we delete around 15,000 posts a month for hate speech in Germany.” A few months after this, “tens of thousands of fake profiles” were allegedly deleted by Facebook during the German election. How many of these were actually fake we most likely will never know, since Facebook’s customer service is shockingly awful and people tend not to pursue these things as a result.
French president Emmanuel Macron has just announced similar proposals to allegedly ban fake news. Like the German government, they intend to block any website they find fault with. In response to these overreaching intentions, French Twitter users have been spreading the hashtag #InventeDesFakeNews (or InventYourFakeNews).
Facebook’s willingness to compromise on freedom of speech, and their moral integrity, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise either. Back in 2016, several former employees told Gizmodo that they routinely manipulated people’s newsfeeds, and the world’s most popular social media platform was also caught conducting psychological experiments on their users back in 2014. Relevant to this blog in particular, the company has also made headlines on numerous occasions for engaging in censorship. Likewise, Twitter has also engaged in censorship on a number of occasions, including censoring the hashtags #PodestaEmails and #DNCLeak during the U.S. elections. Strangely, this censorship has hardly been addressed by the establishment media.
THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING Throughout history there has been an information war between the ruling class and the common people. The so called elite know that without us believing in their imaginary authority, they would never be able to rule over us, wage major wars, or turn us into worker ants for their unscrupulous system.
Since the internet’s introduction there has been a change in the world unlike any before. Activists, revolutionaries, and concerned citizens alike, are all now able to communicate in an unprecedented way. You see, the ruling class’s power historically, has firmly been rooted in our ignorance and inability to effectively communicate and organize rebellion. Naturally, as our access to information and social media have accelerated, so too has our ability to intelligently rebel.
The ruling class are well aware of this dangerous unfolding, and although it has taken them rather long to respond to this mass awakening (showing that they underestimate our power in my opinion), they are now taking more assertive steps to control our ability to access important information. Consequently, we can expect this censorship to only get worse, and it will be done under the guise of “preserving democracy,” or some other bullshit excuse that the unwitting and naive will cheer with ignorant fervor.
It should also be mentioned that although I have been highlighting tech giant abuses in this blog, I largely believe that Mark Zuckerberg and other social media bosses have very limited control over what they can and cannot actually do with their own companies, so placing all the blame on them would be wrong. I believe this is due to an antiquated power structure that has been in place for much longer than any of these companies have even been around, as vaguely mentioned by Facebook’s former executive Chamath PaliHapitiya. This system is much bigger than any one man, or one company, and is going to take a collective effort from a significant percentage of the world’s population to overcome.
GOOGLE IS HIRING 10,000 ADDITIONAL HUMAN CENSORS Google announced last month that it will be hiring an additional 10,000 human censors to police “problematic content” online. While this will most certainly be done under the auspices of fighting terrorism, hate speech, and the usual stories — and in many instances I presume they will — I know from first hand experience it will also be used as a tool of indirect censorship.
Amongst the many annoyances I have personally dealt with pertaining to online activism, I’ve also had my YouTube account shut down, and banned, with no proper clarification as to why except a broad set of ambiguous community guidelines which I allegedly violated.
Last year Google claimed it would fight “fake news,” but was caught instead censoring legitimate websites like CounterPunch, World Socialist Website, Democracy Now, American Civil liberties Union, and Wikileaks, amongst others. Certainly not the type of behavior one would expect from an organization with the ironic motto, “Do the right thing” (previously “Don’t be evil”).
Furthermore, as I documented in a previous blog, there are numerous verifiable instances of the establishment media spreading lies, inciting war (large scale terrorism), and deceiving the public, yet they aren’t being held to the same standard as smaller alternative media outlets, who are being censored for doing the same thing on a much smaller scale.
This is shamefully biased and wrong, if we are to earnestly purge deception from news media, it should be done indiscriminately and with objective concern for the Truth.
CENSORSHIP OF THE INTERNET IS ULTIMATELY CENSORSHIP OF KNOWLEDGE & TRUTH The internet does not merely represent technological achievement, it mostly represents the knowledge and ideas of millions and millions — and even billions — of people who dedicated their lives before us to fighting for a better world. And although these great thinkers and minds may no longer be with us, their thoughts, ideas, and teachings live on through the internet.
These teachings are then discovered by other people like us, who are lucky enough to have access to something as remarkable as the world wide web. We then learn from them and then expand upon them. We see the world around us, and try to figure out how we can create a better world by applying many of these teachings, and where possible we expand upon them through social media and other available platforms.
Being able to communicate and share our thoughts and ideas freely, is the key to furthering this great mission and progress, because mankind as is; dominated by war, racism, tribalism, elitism, poverty, inequality, injustice, and corruption, has yet to actually reach a state of authentic civilization — It is a great duty which we all share to help realize a decent world.
But when a group of powerful governments and elitist interests — that have ultimately profited from keeping us ignorant throughout history — start telling us that they are going to censor our thoughts, ideas, and regulate our ability to communicate under the cloak of benevolence, it means they are ultimately going to hide important knowledge from us; because all expression online — even the most irrational and idiotic — represent some form of knowledge, even if it is just the knowledge of what the most extreme elements of society are thinking.
Why should it be up to the ruling class to decide what knowledge is good, and what is bad? Do not all of us possess the ability to think for ourselves? Do not all have us have the ability to block or ban someone that is acting like a fool online? So how can we rely on the very elitist class that has benefited from our ignorance throughout known history to be in charge of the regulation of knowledge and information?? The answer to that last question is very simple, we cannot, and we would be very stupid to think that we can.
At the end (or beginning depending on your perspective) of our journey towards creating a better world, is the realization that we are actually the ones with the power not them. Their only real power resides in controlling our minds and what we believe. Without this, they literally have nothing. They become insane people running around making ridiculous demands and establishing rules using their imaginary authority — a course of action that would generally land someone in a mental institution, which is exactly where the overwhelming majority of them belong.
We must adjust intelligently to the changing of these times, and raise our standards accordingly my friends. Be precise when sharing information, fact check, and where ever possible, provide overwhelming evidence to prove your point. The censors are looking for reasons to take us down, so we must become more intelligent in our delivery.
Our ignorance has always been their power, but our disillusionment, and subsequent awakening — which is happening right now — will ultimately be their demise. I am not calling for a violent revolution, I am calling for a revolution of the mind.
We are many, and they are few. We just have to wake up and their bullshit game is over.
Access to porn-streaming sites have been attempted by British parliament computers more than 24,000 times over a six-month period following the general election last year, new figures have shown.
Official data examined requests made between June and October 2017, revealing that 24,473 attempts were made to reach porn websites, amounting to 160 requests per-day from computers that were connected to the parliamentary network.
A Press Association (PA) freedom of information (FoI) request shows there were 9,467 requests from both the Houses of Lords and Commons in September alone.
There has been a dramatic drop off in the number of requests to porn sites, from 113,208 attempts in 2016, down from 213,020 the previous year. The reduction follows a year of sleaze allegations that have dogged Westminster. Theresa May’s first Secretary of State Damien Green left his role after a retired-police officer accused him of having thousands of porn images on his desktop computer.
During an investigation, Green made “misleading” statements about allegations that police found pornography on computers in his parliamentary office in 2008 and was subsequently sacked by long-time ally May.
Despite Green’s removal, it seems many others are searching for porn at the workplace.
The figures also come after the so-called Westminster ‘witch hunt’ named dozens of MPs in a “dirty dossier”.
Parliamentary staff (who remained anonymous) listed a long line of politicians and aides believed to have behaved badly. Though some of the claims were of a sexual nature, many were not and were simply listing MPs relationships, many of which were common knowledge.
A parliamentary spokesman said: “All pornographic websites are blocked by parliament’s computer network. The vast majority of attempts to access them are not deliberate. The data shows requests to access websites, not visits to them.
“There are 8,500 computers on the parliamentary network, which are used by MPs, peers, their staff and staff of both Houses. This data also covers personal devices used when logged-on to parliament’s guest wifi.”
A separate FoI request showed there were also at least 2,751,755 attempts to access blocked websites on the parliamentary network from January to October 2017.
The internet is, by nature, plural. When entering it, we know that we’re bound to encounter many ideas, some of which we will not share. Especially in religious matters, it is important to respect others, and simply move on when encountering a post with which we disagree.
If we feel the urgency to offer a negative comment, what is the source of that feeling? Do we really want to help? Do we need to correct another’s ignorance? When we assume the role of custodian of orthodoxy, we proclaim that our understanding is superior to everyone else’s.
We are not on the internet to impose our views, but to share them freely with those of similar inclinations.
Half a century ago, outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “military-industrial complex” to describe the fascistic collusion between the Pentagon and America’s burgeoning armaments industry. But in our day and age we are witnessing the rise of a new collusion, one between the Pentagon and the tech industry that it helped to seed, that is committed to waging a covert war against people the world over. Now, in the 21st century, it is time to give this new threat a name: the information-industrial complex.
CLICK HERE for transcript and sources for this video
Near the end of 2014 Kim Kardashian set out to “break the internet.” She posed naked for pictures. This went great, getting 1% of entire internet activity on the day she did it. Now the worry is that such expressions of democracy will be gone when we lose net neutrality.
Net neutrality is a funny phrase. There certainly was net neutrality when leftist websites were blacklisted from Google. And when Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post. Not to mention that all the content we receive come from six large companies who own just about all the media we consume. It is odd to see people who solely consume corporate outlets such as MSNBC bemoaning the loss of net neutrality.
What may be more troubling than the loss of a supposedly free internet is that so many of us were fooled already. Even in a neutral setting so many of us preferred to consume the very same websites that will now be able to pay for advantages on the internet.
The term “fake news” has never quite told the whole story. The idea that there is some sort of liberal conspiracy being peddled by all mainstream news outlets is silly. These people are only liberal to hide their corporate agenda from liberals, and I suppose everyone who hates liberals. Once you count the liberals and the liberal haters you don’t have many people left. Moreover, the news isn’t necessarily purely fake that often. When ABC suspended Brian Ross it was essentially for spreading fake news. What is a more effective strategy than outward lying is telling part of the truth. Or just spinning speculation without ever presenting evidence, Russia interference in the US elections being the blueprint. All bets are off for imperialism though I think. The New York Times and the Iraq war come to mind.
The mass distractions we receive on the internet are not necessarily fake, they are just nonsense. Selfies posture as resistance. Memes function as political commentary. Angry trolling is a conversation.
The US has always been pretty good about free speech, we just are dumb enough to believe what we hear. It is rather ironic that it is now Trump who is banning words like “fetus” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when he himself was supposed to represent the censored silent majority, suffering under the reign of political correctness. Trump may be an authoritarian but Obama was surely one also. Look at his treatment of whistle blowers or his mass surveillance programs.
The main point here is that net neutrality has a limited value if we are echoing our corporate masters anyways. It surely is a right we deserve, and abandoning such a principle is another step towards authoritarianism. So to this extent the loss of net neutrality may be more problematic for its implications than its effect on an already docile population.
It’s not like the internet is the first thing to exit neutrality. For a country that is so outraged about private ownership of the internet where do we stand on private land? Our schools are being privatized. So are our parks. Our land, our water and our air. Is the water at Standing Rock neutral? How about air pollution? Who owns the air when certain people are profiting of of the pollution of it? Are people themselves even neutral? Look at worker relations or domestic violence. The elections are bought. Small businesses can’t compete against large ones. In a country where 1% of the population has more wealth than the bottom 99% we are worried about the neutrality of the internet.
The loss of net neutrality will effect all these things but maybe we can take this time as a chance to spend less time on the internet and more time with each other. That is not only loving each other but also learning from each other, as news sources. If one were to only read the “neutral” news you would think that mass shootings were more common than good deeds, that everyone looked like Kim Kardashian, that Russians lurked behind every corner and that the rich only gave to charities. A world at least a degree removed from realness has always been represented on the internet.
The news on the internet is the story of six very rich people. The world is full of many more than that. The hope would be that the loss of net neutrality might open doors for us to rely on other ways to connect with people and understand our world. So far though the fear of losing net neutrality has been met with a response bred by the internet. One of instant outrage, lacking reflection. Click bait that does more to break the internet than defeat it. At this pace it’s loss will be forgotten by the next royal wedding, and we will go on consuming the truth about the world from the people who profit from its demise.