Last week Amazon announced the launch of its brand spanking new store Amazon Go.
The ‘Just Walk Out’ technology works as online shopping: every time you pick up an item, it logs it into your virtual basket, until you put it back down again. When you leave the store, there is no need to check out: your account gets automatically credited with the items in your virtual basket, cutting out all need for customer service… ie, human contact.
Amazon go represents everything that is tech innovation and digital development in the 21st century. These are things to admire, and to be excited by! Yet I can’t help but feel a bit unsettled by it… Having worked on campaigns that aim to reduce loneliness amongst older people, for both Contact the Elderly and Anchor, I’ve come to realise that social isolation is not something that just older people feel.
Glued to our phones and tech gadgets, we are becoming less aware of our environment, and the people in it. We are so distracted that we often don’t look out for those around us, often bumping into people in the street, and not taking the time to absorb our surroundings. We’re now looking at everything through a digital lens (is this food Instagram worthy?).
We live in a world that is gradually becoming dependent on technology, leading us (I believe) to becoming an increasingly lonely society. A campaign launched earlier this year by the Samaritan’s highlighted just this problem. A thought-provoking video demonstrated how hard it is to really listen to those around us, and how easy it can be to miss warning signs for those we care about.
So as check-out-free tills and drone deliveries are revolutionary, I’m hoping we will still find ways to balance our digi-addictions and keep up the conversation with our fellow humans… It’s not just the oldies that like a chat at the tills!