I thought I went to sleep with a clear head but woke up to a world very foreign to me, quiet and lonely. I woke up to an alien city where I was greeted by robots, cameras followed me everywhere and mind-reading machines knew exactly what I wanted. They could predict with 99% accuracy what I would like to eat, drink and wear.
Before I asked, they knew I wanted to go shopping in the hopes to meet people or whatever species they have. I was given a device that looked like a phone and levitating hover-board accommodated by flying drones to the nearest store. I walked into this sleek and modern looking store, with a minimalist vibe. The merchandise racks were all black and finished with wood veneer. The floors were polished concrete and to my surprise, classical music from our planet was playing, softly in the background. As I was strolling through the isles, I noticed cameras were nestled in the ceiling, inside the racks and everywhere I glanced quietly monitoring my every move. I did not see a single cashier, cash register, or self-service checkout stands. I thought I could simply walk in and grab what I wanted. I grabbed what looked familiar and left the store. As I was leaving, moments later my smart device buzzed with a notification on my screen that looked like a receipt detailing what I just bought, the amount I paid, how long I spent inside the store and items I liked but did not buy.
What I thought was amazing that they must have installed several hundreds of cameras tracking my every move, counting every item in my basket to perhaps start replenishing the inventory seconds later I leave the store. I approached what looked like information kiosk with a holographic screen. I was greeted by AI system, named Alexa. It asked if I needed any help. I was curious about the cameras and how they work. The AI system explained that cameras are necessary to produce a three-dimensional image of me along with touch sensors that build my bio-metric ID to ensure the accuracy of my purchase.
Would you like such a world where you never wait in line, do not need cash, or even open a wallet? A world where every business and agency knows so much about you that products and services are simply delivered to your door and offers whispered to your ear. In this world, even shoplifting does not exist and let alone employees as everything is automated and selected for you.
I wake up back in my bed and the first thing I grab is my phone. I look at the time and date and quickly realize it was a bad dream. As I was checking my emails and news I came across this article, from CNN that something like this is truly coming “Research has shown that as many as 7.5 million retail jobs are at risk of automation in the next decade alone — while selling you more stuff.” (I spent 53 minutes in Amazon Go and saw the future of retail).
Amazon has successfully opened up three such stores, two in Seattle and another in Chicago. They plan to expand into New York and San Francisco and, as many as 3,000 others by 2021. It is a difficult picture to imagine, but hopefully, it won't reduce the socializing factor and disconnected from each other in the pursuit of full automation and autonomous living. Many experts point out privacy concerns and that the consumers will have to waive their rights to privacy. Imagine nodding with your head right at the entry into the store for the AI to capture your moves and heartbeat to analyze your emotions and preferences while interacting with the product label.
The Industrial Revolution 3.0, helped us mass produce, while Industrial Revolution 4.0, took rovers to Mars and enabled satellites to stream from deep space. The Industrial Revolution 5.0 is coming soon, where man and machine will reconcile to work together optimizing production with unprecedented efficiency supported by human creativity. This will empower human talent and give us the spare time needed to enjoy and learn about ourselves. We are social beings with unmatched creativity and unlimited imagination. When we limit our interaction with nature, spend no time on a farm, socialize less, stop being creative and lack imagination, we get depressed and live our lives unhappily.