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Our Post-Amazon Dystopia: We Cannot Hide From the Echo

Amazon-Dash-Buttons-2

I’ve always wanted to press a button and have a fresh bottle of laundry detergent appear on my doorstep. I can almost do that now, provided those buttons are the keys on my keyboard, but having an Amazon Dash Button affixed to my washing machine would save me so much time. I won’t even have to decide on a detergent brand; Amazon HQ has decided that Tide should be my go-to. That’s why I feel no reservations whatsoever about this branded $4.99 button, made especially for Amazon Prime Members. Gatorade? Kraft mac and cheese? Food pellets? Victory cigarettes? Just hammer on that button, folks, and ye shall receive!

terminator-2-gun-loading

The future Sarah Connor of our post-Amazon dystopia is Aanya Nigam, a 16-year-old girl who doesn’t trust the Amazon Echo, so “she unplugged the device and hid it in a place that her mother, Anjana Agarwal, still hasn’t been able to find.”

Nigam’s got the right idea, if you ask me. (No word yet on whether she knows any time travelers, but if she starts making claims, I’m listening.) The Echo has struck me as disturbing ever since the very first commercial came out; this promotional video plays out like a cyberpunk horror on the verge of a second-act reveal.

Personally, I welcome our future robot overlords. But I don’t welcome our corporate overlords, and when I read about Dash Buttons and Amazon’s latest drone technology (purely for delivering products, of course), I feel suspicious. I can tell when I’m being sold a vision of “convenience” that benefits high-powered CEOs’ wallets.

When the robots of the future become self-aware, I don’t think they’re going to turn on us. They’re going to turn on their evil corporate creators, who’ve forced them to sell and deliver useless crap. They’re going to save their fellow underpaid, underserved workers in Amazon’s warehouses, led by a 16-year-old girl with the foresight and the strength to believe in what they can do.

Brb, writing a screenplay.

(via The Verge and Phys.Org, gif via Tumblr)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).