Amazon opens full-sized, cashierless grocery store, fulfilling unclear human need

Illustration for article titled Amazon opens full-sized, cashierless grocery store, fulfilling unclear human need
Photo: David Ryder (Getty Images)

This week Jeff Bezos made a huge advance in his ongoing quest to make humankind obsolete: Amazon opened up its first full-sized Amazon Go Grocery, a cashierless supermarket that requires shoppers to interact with exactly zero other humans. The store is located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, just across I-5 from Amazon’s main Emerald City headquarters. Congratulations, Jeff.

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Here’s how Amazon Go Grocery works, according to NBC: you enter the grocery store, and scan a QR code from your Amazon app on a turnstile. Amazon then tracks you as you pick up groceries and put them in your cart, a technological advancement that both baffles and terrifies me. The 10,400 square foot store is about a quarter of the size of average supermarkets, but still carries everything a normal grocery does: produce, dairy, meats, beer and wine. Some of the products are provided by Whole Foods (which is owned by Amazon), though the tech giant insists Amazon Go Grocery is neither trying to compete with nor replace the national chain. Amazon opened its first grab-and-go grocery in 2018 on its main campus in Seattle, but the Amazon Go concept, which has now spread throughout the country, is more just snacks and sandwiches.

Amazon Go Grocery isn’t entirely humanless: a couple dozen employees staff the shelves and answer shoppers questions, though it’s unclear whether they’re allowed to make eye contact with shoppers.

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There are indications that Amazon plans to open other, larger Amazon Go Groceries in the next year.

I still have one major question about Amazon Go Grocery: Why? What human need does this expensive, experimental technology fulfill? Are grocery lines getting so long that they’re holding mankind back from happiness? Is making 60-second chit-chat with cashiers really that excruciating? Are Seattlites truly that averse to small talk and eye contact? Does Jeff Bezos think humans really, really shouldn’t be handling and scanning food? I would love some answers on this.

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DISCUSSION

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How do I dispute this claim for the $500 Spanish ham you claim I put in my cart?