Amazon has been at the forefront of technological development for years now, and while its services were nothing short of essential during the early stages of the pandemic, the company might be beginning to push too far.
The venture into the creepy zone began last year. The Verge reported last July that Amazon introduced a smart shopping cart that allows customers to check out without the need for a cashier.
The “smart cart” only works if you log into your Amazon account before entering one of their brick-and-mortar stores. The device is able to detect what items you are putting your cart (up to two bags) and checks you out digitally when you walk through a special lane.
Seems innocuous enough, right? It would be if that’s where it ended, but the insatiable march of progress always demands more.
The Verge additionally reported on April 21 that Amazon will be expanding their palm-scanning Amazon One technology to Whole Foods stores in the vicinity of Seattle. While the technology has been used since October in Seattle-area stores carrying the Amazon brand, the Whole Foods expansion is the company’s largest one yet.
Prospective customers register their palms at kiosks in Amazon One-supported stores, the outlet reported. They can then associate the palm scan to a particular credit or debit card, as well as the customer’s Amazon account.
But how does the technology itself work? How can Amazon actually recognize your palm?
Amazon’s FAQ page explains that the human “palm is made up of tiny, distinct features on and below the surface, many that are indiscernible to the human eye or a standard camera.”
“In seconds,” the Amazon One device begins “a process of proprietary imaging and computer vision algorithms capture and encrypt [a] palm image.”
From this image, “Amazon One uses the information embedded in your palm to create a unique palm signature that it can read each and every time you use it.”
Yeah, that’s going to be a no from me. Digital privacy is one conversation, but there’s something deeply uncomfortable about the idea of Amazon keeping my palm scan in storage. It’s more than unlocking a device once my own genetic information leaves my immediate control.
This is even more of a concern considering the fact that Amazon, in particular, is known for its usage of biased facial recognition technology in its effort to create a large-scale home surveillance network.
The scariest part of all is that this is extremely useful technology. Assuming that everything works as it is supposed to, it could grow rapidly and revolutionize in-store shopping, further increasing the power Big Tech has over our lives.
Fortunately, Americans seem much more skeptical of palm-scanning than they do of smart shopping carts or online ordering. Twitter users from all over the political spectrum came out against Amazon One technology.
This is literally the exact thing those Christian Revelation conspiracy propaganda films where about. Whatever the case, I’ll pass.
Less because I think it’s a secret plot by the antichrist, and more that I’m not keen on Amazon having my biometrics
— Don (@VertexNo9) October 12, 2020
Love to give my biometric data to monsters resting atop hordes of stolen lucre for a few seconds of convenience.
— BrokenMirror (@BrokenM26988174) October 11, 2020
A way to get screwed over hard. Imagine getting jacked on the streets, your family is there with guns to their head. “get this stuff for us, NOW! No funny business or they die!” And suddenly you’re in a world of trouble as you scan in and are at their mercy.
— A Wolf (@Kelly_R_Flewin) October 12, 2020
— Del Rypto (@Del_Ryp) October 11, 2020
Hopefully, Amazon One never catches on and our biological information is safe. I can think of numerous things I’d want more than to be a human scanner.
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