By Thomas Lee, San Francisco Chronicle - February 23, 2017 -- Growing up in rural Indiana, Lowell Goss recalls with some sadness how the arrival of Walmart supercenters signaled the end of Main Street small businesses.
He sees the same thing happening today, only this time the culprit is Amazon. The online giant recently opened an automated physical store in Seattle, called Amazon Go, in which shoppers can pick out their groceries and leave without having to stop at a checkout station.
It’s just one test store, but Goss already envisions a pretty glum, dystopian future.
“Amazon Go makes people’s lives better (with lower prices and greater convenience), but it makes our lives worse,” Goss said. A store without workers “feels lonely. That feels isolated. It depersonalizes the experience in a way that we haven’t thought a lot about.”
Bottom line: “Amazon is corrosive to our communities,” he said.
Those are strong words, ones you might expect from a technophobe or community activist. But Goss was once a key Amazon employee. He spent a year, 2012-13, as director of user experience at Amazon’s Silicon Valley research and development arm, Lab126, where he worked on the video-streaming device Amazon Fire TV and other products.
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