Amazon Go Coverage Begs the Fake News Question — Is Tech Media Paid Shills or Actual Journalists?
Amazon recently announced their Amazon Go self-service convenience store model and tech media gave interesting coverage that is well-timed for the topic of fake news vs real journalism and real reporting. Let’s discuss the initial coverage of Amazon Go with tech media to ask the question do we have real actual technology journalists or reporters nowadays or do we just have shills? The bigger question is these tech media outlets are indeed shilling, are they violating commercial trade laws by tacit collusion creating unfair competitive environment against smaller tech players with selective tech coverage?
Amazon published a nice B-roll video of how their Amazon Go service works and this video is now being proliferated as the source of the technology innovation by various tech media outlets. However, the first statement caught my attention:
Four years ago, we started to wondered what would shopping look like if you could walk into a store, grab what you want and just go?
Four years ago, this technology was already being explored by various tech innovators and the technology was called the self-checkout market. Not only was the technology explored several years ago, but the self-checkout market business model was commercially released around the world in various formats. One such firm implenting self-checkout was Avenue C and here is their video, created almost four years ago:
The original use case for the self-checkout market was to address one of the biggest food deserts outside of urban cities — the corporate break room. Currently, corporate break rooms are filled with coin-operated vending machines offering unhealthy high carb sweet and salty snacks. The self-checkout market concept aimed to solve the corporate food desert problem by offering fresh fruits and vegetables and prepared food for corporate employees to simply pick from and use either their mobile phone or a stand-alone kiosk to complete the purchase.
Those four years ago, while Amazon was “wondering” about this technology, there have been several successful launches and use cases for self-checkout markets from a manufacturing plant in the Southeast to a school system in the Midwest that replaced their vending machine system with fresh produce and refrigerated prepared meals such as salads that were healthier. There were also successful rollouts of the self-checkout market in Brazil as well as throughout Europe by smaller technology firms several years ago. So now that Amazon launch their implementation in 2016, let’s look at what Natt Garun at the Verge writes:
Amazon Go [name drop] works by using computer vision and sensors to detect what items you’re taking out of the store. You start by scanning an app as you enter the Amazon Go [name drop] shop. You do your normal shopping, and the sensors throughout the store identify the items in your cart and charge them to your account when you walk out the door. It’ll feel like shoplifting, except you’re actually being watched by more cameras than you can imagine.
It is obvious the “shoplifting” reference is alluding to the original IBM commercial that arrived around the turn of the century showcasing RFID to perform self-checkout market concept. However, Natt Garun made zero reference in his article regarding the already established smaller technology players who already launched the self-checkout model. Actually, Natt Garun description does not make a lot of technical sense as I’m very keen to how computer vision, OCR and contactless asset tracking technology works — it’s sounds kind of made up mumbo-jumbo.
Oh by the way, I haven’t introduced myself but I’m kinda one of those tech experts out there you don’t hear about — the reason you may not heard of this African-American tech expert (a lot of tech people do know me btw, don’t kid yourself :) ) is because you reading tech media that does not wish to cover me the same way these tech writers did not cover the smaller players involved in self-checkout marketplace technology — but let me introduce myself in another article, let’s keep moving and stick to topic.
The issue I have and others should have in this style of reporting is what is being promoted here — the self-checkout technology or Amazon Go? Let me give you an example case of a past tech coverage and that is when Jay-Z acquired Tidal music service. When Tidal was first launched by Andy Chen, it was lauded as a unique high-fidelity streaming service by tech media. But when Tidal was acquired by Jay-Z, some of the same tech writers began attacking Jay-Z, the Tidal service and even trying to compare it to Spotify and there are several articles stating Tidal wants to compete with Spotify, a bigger name. This type of biased reporting where tech media focus on the bigger name (Spotify) than the merit of the technology (hi-def streaming) brings into question the true integrity of tech media reporting. Is tech media reporting really focused on the technology or just shills for larger status-quo tech firms?
As a tech expert and seasoned experienced individual in the tech industry, I feel tech media content writers has failed the overall technology sector by focusing on brand names versus coverage of amazing technology innovation. As I indicated above, the early version of the self-checkout market actually solved a problem — getting more healthy produce to corporate break rooms and replacing the coin-operated vending machines offering unhealthy sweet and salty snacks. What the tech industry lack is real reporting and journalism that have the knack and insight to research and report technology innovations and the problems and challenges that are solved. Instead we have technology bloggers and content writers with little depth and insight and only mention Amazon or Google all the time.
What the technology industry need is more seasoned tech veterans involved in publishing tech media who know how to research, go in-depth and not just name drop a popular technology company but know how to provide background, the problem/challenge, the proposed solution and the benefits as if they actually worked in the actual tech industry. We have too many talking heads and fakers running tech media and it need to stop. We need less newspaper sports writers and more ex-coaches and ex-players contributing their own perspective and insight based on experienced and techniques they honed to deliver the level of depth the consumer deserve to hear.
One of my concerns about the shallow tech news reporting is many are probably mistaken and think their reporting is based on freedom of speech when they may be violating trade laws designed to protect the marketplace with fair competition. And if a tech media organization or a writer with influence is promoting bigger players like Amazon Go and ignoring smaller players that already establish self-checkout operations, then we have to consider if a fair competitive marketplace is being disrupted by tech media writers and organizations creating a skewed narrative marginalizing smaller players in the innovation space.
I have no issues with Amazon Go or the technology, just that several years ago, my personal research with computer vision in real-world scenarios show flash mobs of unruly teens swarming into a CV-ran unattended retail environment will easily crash the sensors and computer vision object tracking system. This knowledge of the self-checkout model is based on my experience from my expertise and the tech industry is going to need more people like me who should be covering this subject matter with depth and not keep settling for the current tech writers and tech media organizations who appear to be nothing more than shills for the big guys.