Amazon Ditches 'Just Walk Out' Checkouts at Its Grocery Stores

submitted by Stopthatgirl7 edited

gizmodo.com/amazon-reportedly-ditches-just-walk…

Amazon is phasing out its checkout-less grocery stores with “Just Walk Out” technology, first reported by The Information Tuesday. The company’s senior vice president of grocery stores says they’re moving away from Just Walk Out, which relied on cameras and sensors to track what people were leaving the store with.

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83 Comments

Lvxferre

That immediately reminded me the story of the Mechanical Turk. Check the link for further info - to keep it short both are ways to hide human labour behind alleged automation.

Brunacho

I believe it was Molly White (@molly0xfff@hachyderm.io ) who said that every AI idea like this will eventually be revealed to be a mechanical turk. So far she seems right on point.

ccunning

You linked to the original Mechanical Turk. Perhaps you already know this but Amazon actually runs an Mechanical Turk service:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Mechanical_Turk

Lvxferre

You linked to the original Mechanical Turk.

Yup, that's intended. The original Mechanical Turk was a con, just like Amazon's "just walk out" service.

body_by_make , edited

The Amazon's Mechanical Turk was never a con. It's been known for a very long time that it's a way to outsource human tasks on a large scale cheaply. Like, a very long time. I think I first heard about it like 12 years ago?

Unless you mean the way it exploits poor countries for cheap labor. I wouldn't call that a con, but it is fucked.

FalseMyrmidon

He means the namesake, not the web service from the last 20 years.

Lvxferre , edited

By "original Mechanical Turk", I am clearly referring to the chess player inside a box. It was a con because the system was presented as an automaton, when it is simply human labour.

And I am calling Amazon's "just walk out" service also a con because it was touted as automatic, even if also being mostly human labour.

I am not calling "Amazon's Mechanical Turk" a con. It is exploitative, as you said, but it is not a con. People *know* that it is human labour, and Amazon does not try to hide it.

Is this clear now?

body_by_make

Yep, thanks

linearchaos

The automated walk out service wasn't a con. It was a shortsighted, honestly s* idea, that was never able to be brought past the human oversight stage.

Con requires intent. I'm absolutely certain they fully intended to make it a completely humanless system. They failed and drug their feet trying and now they've shut it down.

If it's a con, what's their long game? What are they gain from having humans watch the store remotely? Is it tech just so neat that they'll have a lot more shoppers than a regular store? Do they save so much in on-site staff that it's cheaper to run than a conventional store? There's no advantage here that would make it a worthwhile con. It's a failed moonshot that they ended up manning with people to see if they could make it work that's all.

ripcord

Just because it was a failure doesn't make it a con.

Flying Squid

The Amazon’s Mechanical Turk was never a con.

I wouldn't go that far. They heavily implied that you could make a decent living doing it, not 20 cents per survey or whatever it is.

Darkassassin07

According to The Information, 700 out of 1,000 Just Walk Out sales required human reviewers as of 2022. This widely missed Amazon’s internal goals of reaching less than 50 reviews per 1,000 sales.

Lmao.

Eager Eagle , edited

idk...

According to The Information, 700 out of 1,000 Just Walk Out sales required human reviewers as of 2022. This widely missed Amazon’s internal goals of reaching less than 50 reviews per 1,000 sales. Amazon called this characterization inaccurate, and disputes how many purchases require reviews.

if Amazon wasn't the source of this number, where is it coming from?

schmidtster

Amazon was using people to train the model, so at the starts it would be 100%, but eventually the goal would be to get near zero, maybe the average was 70% but when the ended it was near 40%?

Darkassassin07

Probably the '1000 people in india' reviewing that footage.

The rest of the articles linked in the above one are pay walled and I don't care enough to dig further.

errer

If the numbers don’t match your narrative, just make them up! That’s the Gizmodo way.

pdxfed

Or Amazon, if you don't like your employees having labor rights, just sue to have the NLRB declared unconstitutional with such awesome groups as Elon Musk's SpaceX.

pedroapero , edited

This feels so creepy to, being watched spending your money by slaves on the other side of the globe, and Amazon pretending it to be automated !

isles

Amazon pretending it to be automated !

Is it surprising for a company running a service called Mechanical Turk?

Llewellyn

Slaves?

graymess

Incredible. Their "AI" is just a bunch of people watching cameras in India.

bionicjoey

Goes to show the true state of the art for AI right now

Harbinger01173430

Meanwhile, my college machine learning model made to recognize three types of flower by sepal length: 92% success rate.

iAmTheTot

I'm not an expert but uh, I don't think this had anything to do with AI. It was just a scanner in a basket.

Squizzy

It did have AI, the cameras adjusted based on location, proximity, lighting, etc. They tracked you through the store and gavenyou a unique ID were trained to manage you being blocked from view by other shoppers.

Brkdncr

I sat in front of one of these ideas at an airport. People are just dumb. They couldn’t figure out how to get into the store. They didn’t understand how to pay by just leaving.

DeathsEmbrace

Never blame people for an issue with a system. If you have to blame the people then just admit your system is shit. It’s called idiot proofing and when theirs a bigger idiot proof it some more.

BearOfaTime

I've said the same elsewhere, and the idiots here downvote to oblivion.

It's so weird. This is a basic rule of building *anything* that engages with the public. How can anyone assume that *everyone* will simply "get" how an interface works?

yiliu

This is sort of implicitly true. You can't get people's money if they can't figure out how to use your product/service.

At the same time... People are pretty dumb.

Passerby6497

People are rather dumb, but that's why you design a system that even an idiot can use.

hark

I remember when this was going to be the future of physical retail and that it was part of the massive loss of jobs we would supposedly experience due to full automation. It reminds me of the hype surrounding AI and the overestimation of its capabilities and underestimation of its problems.

Theroux Sonfeir

What is preventing someone from just walking into a random store with no Amazon account and walking out with stuff?

glitch1985

The one I went to had a turnstile after you walk though the front door so you needed to scan the code from the app.

Panda

There was a video going around on Twitter when they first implemented this where people were just hopping the turnstile a la NYC Subway

KairuByte

What is preventing someone from doing that at Walmart?…

jkrtn

I don't know about Walmart but I heard Target will facial recognize you and deliberately wait across multiple trips until you have stolen enough to make it grand theft before taking action.

isles

Is that tracking distributed across stores or do I have license to steal $9999 from each one?

RGB3x3

Probably the amount stolen within the same state. But once you're committing crimes across state lines, you've got bigger problems on your hands.

And yes, they definitely share data across their whole company.

CoggyMcFee

Let us know what you find out

Neondragon25

I did Target security for a few months. Yes they build cases against people until it's criminal action. It's also not subject to one store. Rather I could just type in descriptions of people (apparent age, height, skin tone, etc) and it would search those descriptions. I could then match the person and add it to the running total. When I left I heard that some markets were rolling out an AI to track people. I can answer any questions if there's anyone who want to know more.

jkrtn

Do you know how long do they keep video for, or is it just eternity?

KoalaUnknown

Deleted by author

KairuByte

How would that be illegal?

KoalaUnknown , edited

Deleted by author

Encrypt-Keeper

The state constables posted at the exit usually lol

Flying Squid

I don't know where you live, but I've been in many Walmarts in the U.S. and they have private security who are never posted at the exit that I've ever seen. Mostly they just sit in an office and watch security cameras.

PriorityMotif

I've definitely seen actual cops standing at the front of the store. They're also there every day and park their cars up front in the fire lane.

Flying Squid

Maybe you've seen it, but it's not common in my experience.

I just traveled across four states and, because of the bad weather, we stopped at Walmarts along the way so my elderly mother could walk around and stretch her legs.

Not one cop.

Verat , edited

That's the thing that gets me where I live, the cops have reserved parking spots but they still choose the fire lane, I guess crossing the traffic lane to the building is a line they wont cross.

Furbag

"Just walk out" was a cool idea, but I'm not sure the way they tried to implement it would have ever been successful even if they had perfected the technology. The fact that they tried to disguise it as a fully automated system when they had a team of thousands of people overseas analyzing the footage is disturbing. I like the idea of just having the scanner in the basket much better. It's still more convenient/efficient than a checkout line or a kiosk and it helps you keep track of your total balance.

I've never actually been to one of these stores. They seem pretty scarce.

dyc3

My university just finished replacing one of the on campus convenience stores with a "just walk out" thing. The experience just felt kinda weird overall.

LordCrom

All this complexity and expensive tech just to avoid paying a couple of cashier's and bagboys. It amazes me

postmateDumbass

But the guy with the MBA had a graph showing it pays for itself in 38 years! (46 if you add consulting fees.)

FunkPhenomenon

good idea, poor implementation

frezik

They couldn't train an AI well enough to replace humans in the loop. That suggests it was a bad idea from the start. If it were possible at all with the current state of the art of AI, Amazon would be one of the companies that could do it.

Garbanzo

The Amazon near me has a "Just Fuck Off" policy. They redecorated the old Toys R Us building a few years ago and then never bothered to open the store.

Panda , edited

Joke's on them, I was already Just Walking Out without going to the checkout 😎

knotthatone

It's a shame this isn't working out, I was really hoping it would turn out to be a better way of doing self-checkouts.

The little convenience store on my way to work is nice, but I guess it falls apart in a larger store situation.

venusaur , edited

It worked really smoothly for me…the one time I went cuz it was such a depressing experience. Don’t get me wrong tho. I love self checkout. Amazon store sucks.

ripcord

What made it depressing for you?

venusaur

It just feels sad in there. The colors are sad, the products are boring, the cameras all over are dystopian. Even though there were other people there, it felt isolating. Too sterile.

ripcord

Gotcha. Never seen anything on them except this story (and maybe another at some point that mentioned they were opening some), so was curious.

venusaur

For sure. It’s an interesting concept but I enjoy going to the grocery store and this didn’t feel right.

AutoTL;DR

This is the best summary I could come up with:

Amazon is phasing out its checkout-less grocery stores with “Just Walk Out” technology, first reported by The Information Tuesday.

The technology allows customers to skip checkout altogether by scanning a QR code when they enter the store.

Though it seemed completely automated, Just Walk Out relied on more than 1,000 people in India watching and labeling videos to ensure accurate checkouts.

However, the spokesperson acknowledged these associates validate “a small minority” of shopping visits when AI can’t determine a purchase.

Amazon Fresh, the e-commerce giant’s grocery store first launched in 2007, has just over 40 locations around the United States.

Amazon’s push away from expensive tests like Just Walk Out may be a sign the company is looking to further expand its presence as a supermarket.

The original article contains 512 words, the summary contains 126 words. Saved 75%. I'm a bot and I'm open source!

flames5123

Damn… I go to a corner store Amazon Go almost every time I go into the office for a flavored seltzer. They have dog treats and my my dog loves going there every time.

I hope this is one of the convenience stores that it keeps open.

It was weird that last year they reversed the way you pay, making you pay/scan your code on the way out. So backwards to the “just walk out” motto. They went back on it less than 6 months later.

ExfilBravo

If they lose even a cent doing something new its right back to the old way every time. Can't let the share holders down I guess.

Andromxda

Could we please stop crossposting to 7 different communities?

Stopthatgirl7 [OP]

?? I didn’t post this anywhere else? Or even see it anywhere else?

Andromxda

I'm not saying you did this, but someone did.

Stopthatgirl7 [OP]

I scroll through to see if things have been posted before. If I don’t see it, I assume it hasn’t. And I use a client so I don’t see if there are cross posts because it doesn’t display them.

Zagorath

You can see from the screenshot you posted that it was only posted *one* other time in this community. And that was by me, posting many hours *after* this one. So you blaming @Stopthatgirl7@lemmy.world is very unfair.

As for why I posted it, simple: federation problems. I looked and didn't see it already posted, because for whatever reason, on my instance when viewing this community, it *didn't appear*. Only when someone else posted it and linked to this post on *their* instance did I ever become aware of it. If you look at this post on my instance you'll note only two comments show up, and that's because they're the comments I *forced* to show up by manually searching for them using a different instance's URL. (Not sure why, but even when *trying* to search for it, I can't get your post with the actual screenshot to show up on my instance, hence my reply to this comment instead.)

Andromxda

I'm not blaming any specific person, I'm blaming whoever thought it was a good idea to cross-post this 7 times.

As for why I posted it, simple: federation problems.

Ok sure, that explains it. I should have thought about that.

Zagorath

Eh personally I don't think there's a problems with cross-posting. They're different communities and different people might subscribe to them.

As for the federation issue, I don't think you *should* have thought of that. I know I didn't. Apparently it's a long-lived issue with lemmy.world federation. Anyone would have assumed federation issues were resolved a while ago.