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VP959
22nd Jan 2018, 08:37
Just read this: Amazon opens a supermarket with no checkouts - BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42769096)

It seems that Amazon have come up with a brilliant plan to get even more personal data out of us, including our ID from facial recognition, along with our payment/bank details as well.

Am I alone in thinking this is a step too far?

When I go into a shop I don't want my face scanned and ID'd against some data base as if I'm a criminal. It's bad enough that shops correlate my name with what I buy, using credit/debit card details, without going this far.

I sincerely hope this doesn't go so far as to actually get installed in large supermarkets. My local corner shop will find that their business increases significantly if it does.

treadigraph
22nd Jan 2018, 08:58
To be honest, I'm not even particularly happy using self service tills in shops - I do prefer a little human interaction!

Meanwhile in Scotland...

Fabio the robot sacked from supermarket after alarming customers (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/01/21/fabio-robot-sacked-supermarket-alarming-customers/)

:ok:

Krystal n chips
22nd Jan 2018, 09:03
Sounds remarkably similar, to, erm, entering an immigration channel really...so no difference there then.

Of course, unlike immigration channels, with shopping, you always have the option of doing so elsewhere.

VP959
22nd Jan 2018, 09:21
To be honest, I'm not even particularly happy using self service tills in shops - I do prefer a little human interaction!


Me too, to be honest. It seems everything we do now is diminishing the level of human interaction we get each day, especially for those of us who have retired. The main thing I miss since retiring is having debates with colleagues about everything and anything.

Even the brief chat at a supermarket checkout is appreciated, and one of the reasons I use our local village shop/post office (apart from a desire to try and keep it open - the "use it or lose it" principle) is that the people there are always chatty, including many of the regular customers from the village.

I stopped using the library when it became automatic, for several reasons. Not talking to staff was one, the fact that the self-service machines were slow and awkward to use was another and the final reason was that I could download an ebook from the library at home more quickly and more conveniently, than driving there to select a book or two and sign them out. I much prefer reading real books to ebooks, but the library changes tipped the convenience balance far enough as for me to accept ebooks as a substitute.

goudie
22nd Jan 2018, 09:31
The same has happened in Banks. Mine is down from five tellers to two. Most things can now be done on machines

Same experience as you VP re library

ExXB
22nd Jan 2018, 09:34
Apple has been cashier-less for some years now. Nobody stopped buying Macs or iPhones ... And they e-mail you your receipt.

However their implementation involves a human being.

Ancient Mariner
22nd Jan 2018, 09:34
The same has happened in Banks. Mine is down from five tellers to two. Most things can now be done on machines

Same experience as you VP re library

Wow, you have a bank with tellers?
Where do you live, they've been long gone here in Vikingland.
Per

KelvinD
22nd Jan 2018, 09:37
K&C: One major difference with immigration channels; they don't store your bank details in immigration.
I think the idea of Amazon storing your bank details would fall foul of data protection legislation in the U.K. I seem to remember this says that a company can only store such information for as long as it is needed at the time of a transaction.
It's all a bit like "loyalty" cards. The main reason behind them is nothing to do with better service etc. It is simply so they can bombard you with unwanted literature/promotions via your letter box!

Krystal n chips
22nd Jan 2018, 09:49
K&C: One major difference with immigration channels; they don't store your bank details in immigration.
I think the idea of Amazon storing your bank details would fall foul of data protection legislation in the U.K. I seem to remember this says that a company can only store such information for as long as it is needed at the time of a transaction.
It's all a bit like "loyalty" cards. The main reason behind them is nothing to do with better service etc. It is simply so they can bombard you with unwanted literature/promotions via your letter box!

Kelvin D...fair enough about immigration and bank details, but I wouldn't like to bet on it to be honest because I'm sure they can access all the information about an individual they want to.

The DP Act may well negate Amazon in the UK, for a while, but when avoiding paying tax was not a problem, they probably won't feel discouraged in trying to skirt round this legal technicality.

Loyalty cards !...why people use them I will never know. Supermarkets have them for one reason, along with huge databases to profile customers precisely, and that's for the supermarkets benefit...not the customer.

It was interesting to read about "every little helps" attempt to "review" their card scheme recently had to be rapidly dropped however.

VP959
22nd Jan 2018, 09:51
It's all a bit like "loyalty" cards. The main reason behind them is nothing to do with better service etc. It is simply so they can bombard you with unwanted literature/promotions via your letter box!

Indeed. By accepting the terms and conditions attached to having a "loyalty card" you grant the shop the right to access and use your data pretty much as they wish. It's the whole point of the things, to gather and store data so they can better target advertising etc, and the small discount they provide is just a very cheap payment for the value of that data. In effect a loyalty card is just another product the store sells you - you get the small discount, they get all the data they need from you. The problem is that the majority of card holders haven't yet caught on that the cards are products that they are paying for, in effect.

treadigraph
22nd Jan 2018, 09:55
Paid off my mortgage slightly early a couple of years ago. I fondly imagined marching into my mortgage provider, requesting my balance to be paid, then going to my building society to request a cheque, then returning with cheque in hand - but no, "Please call this number to obtain your balance, then it should all be done on by transfers on-line"... What? Completely spoiled the moment...

VP959
22nd Jan 2018, 09:58
If personal data is held absolutely securely, then there is no major issue. The problem is that, time and time again, we see that commercial entities (and governments) are simply incapable of providing secure data storage.

A glimpse at the Darkweb will show the vast amount of purloined personal data that is available on sale, all of it illegally obtained, I suspect, and much of it probably as a consequence of hacking into larger personal data stores.

Do I trust Amazon to hold even more data about me than they already do? Absolutely not. They are so big that they have made themselves a prime target for hackers, and we already know that they store personal data that they openly said they didn't, so frankly they are well down on my list of organisations to be trusted.

cattletruck
22nd Jan 2018, 10:08
https://www.iphonefaq.org/images/archives/Hal_Eye1.jpg

I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

Got stuck in the 12 items-or-less supermarket isle last weekend when someone needed more customer service than normal. After 10 minutes of waiting it was clear it was nobody's fault but the supermarket's for not providing enough staff, then the jokes started, total strangers making funny around the absurd situation. Stick that up yer HAL-9000.

ExXB
22nd Jan 2018, 10:15
I am always surprised that people still want to queue at the cashiers when there is no one using the self service and scanner machines. And I’m not a youngster either.

cattletruck
22nd Jan 2018, 10:24
I suspect, and much of it probably as a consequence of hacking into larger personal data stores.

I suspect it's the senior managers making a secret buck on the side.

...self service and scanner machines.

They scare the living bejesus out of me as often in that little pen where they are installed there is much more happening in there than most people assume.

TWT
22nd Jan 2018, 10:26
I am always surprised that people still want to queue at the cashiers when there is no one using the self service and scanner machines

Maybe the customers queueing want to buy things such as cigarettes which are not on the supermarket shelves.

ExXB
22nd Jan 2018, 10:45
Maybe the customers queueing want to buy things such as cigarettes which are not on the supermarket shelves.hadn’t thought of that. It certainly explains the fresher air around the machines.

Well I’m OK with that, but I’m sure they will find a way around that challenge, as they have already done with booze.

Tankertrashnav
22nd Jan 2018, 10:49
I am always surprised that people still want to queue at the cashiers when there is no one using the self service and scanner machines. And I’m not a youngster either.

Always use the normal tills in our local Tesco. The staff are without exception friendly and chatty and it makes the whole shopping experience just that bit less of a chore. There are rarely long queues

A couple of weeks ago their was a big staff shortage because of the flu epidemic and so I used the self service tills to avoid the unusually long queues. I needed so much help from the roving assistant
because I kept mucking up the system that I may as well have waited and used the checkouts anyway.

btw ExXB you're a youngster as far as I'm concerned!

VP959
22nd Jan 2018, 10:50
A large amount of fraud comes fro the banks own call centre staff in far flung offices stealing data. They will all soon be replaced by AI so you will probably be safer.

Amazon already stores your payment info. Nobody is going to go to the trouble of hacking into Amazon to steal your grocery shopping list.

All this stuff is already happening. It is likely data has been gathered on us from this thread. Things will start moving into blockchain based technologies soon which will be harder to steal.


Accepted, it's the use of facial recognition technology that I believe to be the "step too far" in the title.

As I understand the DPA, at the moment Amazon would not be allowed to store records that included name, address, bank details AND unique biometric data (I may be wrong, I'm going on the police not being able to store biometric data for people who have not been convicted of a crime).

There's an exception for things like passports, because if you want one you have no choice but to grant permission for them to hold your biometric data, a bit like the way shops get around holding personal data obtained from loyalty card holders - they've been given explicit permission to by the person who signed up for the card, who have accepted it's Ts and Cs.

Trossie
22nd Jan 2018, 12:01
Just as it appears that Channel 5 are talking of taking 'Big Brother' off TV, Amazon introduce a 'Big Brother' supermarket. And people go along with it voluntarily! George Orwell would have been astounded. ... ... Or would he?

VP959
22nd Jan 2018, 12:31
Just as it appears that Channel 5 are talking of taking 'Big Brother' off TV, Amazon introduce a 'Big Brother' supermarket. And people go along with it voluntarily! George Orwell would have been astounded. ... ... Or would he?

It's uncanny really. They've even managed to persuade lots of people to buy bugging microphones to willingly install and connect to their own servers in order to eavesdrop on every word spoken within range. More amazing is that the purchasers actually believe that having their every word eavesdropped on, and perhaps recorded on a server in some other country, is a good thing...............

I hadn't realised until a few months ago, when the police obtained an order to get hold of stored recorded audio from the servers connected to these bugs, that they did actually store sounds they heard. In that case, if my memory is correct, an assault or murder was alleged to have happened and the police believed that the sound recordings held on the servers may have been useful as evidence.

Following that I had a look at the technology inside Alexa etc, and it seems these are just dumb boxes. They send digitised audio to a remote server, that then does the speech recognition etc, and sends back digitised audio to the speaker. The "smart speaker" is just a dumb "bug", with the addition of a speaker to pass information back to the occupants of the room.

It truly is Orwellian, except Orwell assumed it would be government doing this, when it seems that most of the power now rests with large multinational companies. I'm not convinced that government is really in control of many of the major i8ssues that shape and control our society. I think we've long since passed that responsibility over to the big multinational companies.

Trossie
22nd Jan 2018, 12:37
Where Orwell would have been astounded was that he saw this as being imposed and there was no way out. This is being voluntarily and gleefully entered into by the gullible masses! However, unlike in Orwell's predictions, this can voluntarily be turned off.

treadigraph
22nd Jan 2018, 12:50
I was initially reluctant to have email when we first got it around 1995! I certainly don't want Alexa earwigging my every sound.

People buy into all this technology because they think they must keep up with the times (or the Jones's).

I mean do you really need to do this...

Amazon Dash Buttons

VP959
22nd Jan 2018, 13:01
I will admit to loving some technology. I have our new house wired up with various sensors and a home made data logger that records the temperatures of lots of things, the relative humidity, the CO2 level, the energy generation (and energy consumption) etc, etc. I enjoy seeing how well I can use this data (stored on a USB stick and analysed about once a month or so using a spreadsheet) to improve the air quality, comfort level and efficiency of our new home.

I draw the line at sticking that data on the internet for anyone to use, for a lot of reasons. Firstly, I just value privacy. Secondly, it's pretty easy to correlate data like this and use it for nefarious purposes. For example, just looking at the pattern of room temperature variation and CO2 level would give a pretty accurate means of determining whether anyone was at home, so giving a tech-savvy burglar useful info.

When I owned aeroplanes it used to annoy me that the registration and my name and and address was on a publicly accessible data base, G-INFO. Anyone could just see me fly off from the local airfield from the reg, then pop around for a bit of burglary, knowing I was away for a while.

denachtenmai
22nd Jan 2018, 13:35
btw ExXB you're a youngster as far as I'm concerned!

No comment. :{

4mastacker
22nd Jan 2018, 15:01
Ordering condoms by Amazon Dash? They'll have to have a bloody quick delivery service!!

radeng
22nd Jan 2018, 15:03
TTN,

Like you, I want the human touch. Had to cheer up one of the very good looking middle aged cashiers the other week - she had said 'Have a good weekend, darling' to this woman who promptly moaned at her for being too familiar! I did tell her of the problem in Cornwall some years back when an American woman complained officially after going into a police station and being addressed 'how are 'ee, me luvver?' a pretty traditional Cornish greeting. That cheered her up...I've got to know a number of the Tesco cashiers and they are all friendly. One of them worked for the same company as I did back in the 1980s....

treadigraph
22nd Jan 2018, 15:07
Ordering condoms by Amazon Dash? They'll have to have a bloody quick delivery service!!

They may come quickly...

Krystal n chips
22nd Jan 2018, 15:18
"the energy generation (and energy consumption) etc, etc. I enjoy seeing how well I can use this data (stored on a USB stick and analysed about once a month or so using a spreadsheet) to improve the air quality, comfort level and efficiency of our new home.

Erm, most energy suppliers provide something called a Smart Meter....and, it's free !....tells you everything you need to know strangely enough.

Buster11
22nd Jan 2018, 15:26
To be honest, I'm not even particularly happy using self service tills in shops - I do prefer a little human interaction!

Re. Treadigraph's comment, human reaction in a supermarket is the very last thing I want. I've no wish to stand in line while the muppet at the front waits to load all her purchases into a bag before remembering that she's going to have to pay, and then fumbling about in a handbag to find cash or credit card (PIN probably wrong for the first few tries). I thought women were supposed to be good at multi-tasking, so you'd imagine that having the means of payment ready before arriving at the front of the line might be a good start.

On a slightly related topic has anyone else noticed how the laser scanners at Lidl and Aldi don't seem to require the item to be lined up correctly in order to be read? Speeds things up a lot.

VP959
22nd Jan 2018, 15:35
On the topic of laser scanners, I was tempted to use one of the hand-held ones, where you scan stuff as you chuck it in your trolley, then just pay at the end, until I looked at the terms and conditions. In order to sign up for one you have to agree to the supermarket collecting and using any personal data in any way they see fit, so in effect they are like loyalty cards, just another way of getting around some of the limitations of the DPA.

I did ask if I could sign up for one with out agreeing to the data retention, use and sharing part of the terms and conditions, and the answer was a very definite "no", which pretty much confirms why they've introduced them.

I'm tempted to go back to paying in cash, as all this data gathering, sharing, selling on etc is getting to be a bit to much, and little or none of it adds any value to anything I do, as far as I can see.

ExXB
22nd Jan 2018, 15:37
Self-service scanners in our shops here read the bar codes any which way. They are also pretty good at not reading the code twice. According to the helpful clerk it is a feature, not a bug.

The urban myth that women are good at multitasking is perpetuated by women. I don’t think any man actually believes it.

Ex Cargo Clown
22nd Jan 2018, 15:39
I will admit to loving some technology. I have our new house wired up with various sensors and a home made data logger that records the temperatures of lots of things, the relative humidity, the CO2 level, the energy generation (and energy consumption) etc, etc. I enjoy seeing how well I can use this data (stored on a USB stick and analysed about once a month or so using a spreadsheet) to improve the air quality, comfort level and efficiency of our new home.

I draw the line at sticking that data on the internet for anyone to use, for a lot of reasons. Firstly, I just value privacy. Secondly, it's pretty easy to correlate data like this and use it for nefarious purposes. For example, just looking at the pattern of room temperature variation and CO2 level would give a pretty accurate means of determining whether anyone was at home, so giving a tech-savvy burglar useful info.

When I owned aeroplanes it used to annoy me that the registration and my name and and address was on a publicly accessible data base, G-INFO. Anyone could just see me fly off from the local airfield from the reg, then pop around for a bit of burglary, knowing I was away for a while.

This wasmy first thought. Doesn't take a genius to know if someone has set the alarm, they're not at home. Most people with phones are constantly tracked, and you can track them as well.

VP959
22nd Jan 2018, 15:53
This wasmy first thought. Doesn't take a genius to know if someone has set the alarm, they're not at home. Most people with phones are constantly tracked, and you can track them as well.

This was something I was aware of with iPhones, as someone at work had demonstrated how straightforward it was to locate one, as long as you knew the user's phone number, but it was only around a year ago I realised that Google had added tracking code into Android, such that even if you had the location option turned off, Google were still gathering and recording tracking information, albeit only at the mast connection level.

I found that there is a way around this, don't use either an iPhone or an Android phone/tablet. With an Android phone or tablet it's pretty easy to switch to an operating system that's open source and has none of the privacy invading features that are inherent in other systems. AFAIK, there's no way of doing the same with an Apple device, they are generally locked down to prevent stuff like this.

I changed my Sony tablet over to run LineageOS, which seems pretty good. It's much faster than Android and still runs all the apps I need, including some open source apps that are in my view, better than some commonly used ones from Google. It has no Google connectivity at all, so your data goes a bit further, as there is none of the constant transmission of data back to Google servers that happens with the stock Android. The only slight downside is having to side load apps using the built-in APK loader, but that's dead easy - you just have to remember that it's up to you to make sure stuff is safe to load, but that's not exactly hard to do.

KelvinD
22nd Jan 2018, 15:54
Many years ago, I signed up for a Sainsburys card and this later morphed into a Nectar card. Somewhere along the way, they dropped all my data so I had a card that worked for things like the self-scanning thing but the system hasn't a clue where to send any rubbish mail to. When making purchases, I deny all knowledge of the card and I am a happy chappy!
Buster: I have just returned from a quick outbreak of shopping at my local supermarket where I invariably use the self-scanning gizmo. Bish, bash, bosh! 30 seconds to do a dozen items. The laser scanner scans on 2 planes, so you don't need to carefully place your item on the horizontal screen; a quick wave in the general direction will suffice. Coupled with the "wave your card at the PIN machine" makes for a very swift exit!

Krystal n chips
22nd Jan 2018, 16:00
On the topic of laser scanners, I was tempted to use one of the hand-held ones, where you scan stuff as you chuck it in your trolley, then just pay at the end, until I looked at the terms and conditions. In order to sign up for one you have to agree to the supermarket collecting and using any personal data in any way they see fit, so in effect they are like loyalty cards, just another way of getting around some of the limitations of the DPA.

I did ask if I could sign up for one with out agreeing to the data retention, use and sharing part of the terms and conditions, and the answer was a very definite "no", which pretty much confirms why they've introduced them.

I'm tempted to go back to paying in cash, as all this data gathering, sharing, selling on etc is getting to be a bit to much, and little or none of it adds any value to anything I do, as far as I can see.

It doesn't make one iota of difference how you pay, card or cash ( unless you keep the cash in a big box under the bed of course ) because as everybody knows, we all leave a nice digital trail every day.

That, and the UK can bask in the glory of being one of the most surveillance obsessed societies in the world anyway.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/06/tony-porter-surveillance-commissioner-risk-cctv-public-transparent

VP959
22nd Jan 2018, 16:01
Many years ago, I signed up for a Sainsburys card and this later morphed into a Nectar card. Somewhere along the way, they dropped all my data so I had a card that worked for things like the self-scanning thing but the system hasn't a clue where to send any rubbish mail to. When making purchases, I deny all knowledge of the card and I am a happy chappy!
Buster: I have just returned from a quick outbreak of shopping at my local supermarket where I invariably use the self-scanning gizmo. Bish, bash, bosh! 30 seconds to do a dozen items. The laser scanner scans on 2 planes, so you don't need to carefully place your item on the horizontal screen; a quick wave in the general direction will suffice. Coupled with the "wave your card at the PIN machine" makes for a very swift exit!

If someone came up with a dodge to enable all these tracking cards to become useless for tracking, but still allow the user-beneficial services to work that would be great.

The other thing that bothers me is that there seems to be a flurry of devices that are all a part of this great new interconnected world, but in the race to get them to market the manufacturers seem to be skimping on security. We've had a spate of devices that can either be openly hacked very easily, or can have their data streams intercepted, covering everything from internet-connected sex toys (!) through children's toys that can be easily hacked, to the ludicrous situation with so-called smart meters, that are so dumb that they won't work if you change supplier, as we are advised to do from time to time to get the best deal (and in our case the daft things won't work as there is no mobile signal available locally, anyway).

Krystal n chips
22nd Jan 2018, 16:35
If someone came up with a dodge to enable all these tracking cards to become useless for tracking, but still allow the user-beneficial services to work that would be great.

The other thing that bothers me is that there seems to be a flurry of devices that are all a part of this great new interconnected world, but in the race to get them to market the manufacturers seem to be skimping on security. We've had a spate of devices that can either be openly hacked very easily, or can have their data streams intercepted, covering everything from internet-connected sex toys (!) through children's toys that can be easily hacked, to the ludicrous situation with so-called smart meters, that are so dumb that they won't work if you change supplier, as we are advised to do from time to time to get the best deal (and in our case the daft things won't work as there is no mobile signal available locally, anyway).

Not entirely correct regarding Smart Meters...but, there again, when it comes to a spot of self aggrandizing expertise here on JB, factuality is but a minor detail....

https://freepricecompare.com/smart-meter-compatibility-issue-on-energy-switching-know-everything-you-need/

That "ignore" button helps a lot for some therefore.

G-CPTN
22nd Jan 2018, 19:34
Like you, I want the human touch. Had to cheer up one of the very good looking middle aged cashiers the other week - she had said 'Have a good weekend, darling' to this woman who promptly moaned at her for being too familiar! I did tell her of the problem in Cornwall some years back when an American woman complained officially after going into a police station and being addressed 'how are 'ee, me luvver?' a pretty traditional Cornish greeting. That cheered her up...I've got to know a number of the Tesco cashiers and they are all friendly. One of them worked for the same company as I did back in the 1980s....

The lady behind the desk at Mr T Escos greets me as 'flower'.

I sometimes invent excuses to talk with her.

It quite makes my day.

Blues&twos
22nd Jan 2018, 20:37
The CO-OPs near me have been refurbished over the last year or so. They have fitted several self-service checkout machines, which in theory is handy if you've only got a few bits and there's a queue at the real checkouts. I've used this type of machine in Tesco often, without too many problems.
The CO-OP machines, however, are utterly, utterly useless. No-one now uses them. They go into error usually the second a bag is put in the bagging area, and there are long delays between scanning an item and the system recognising what's been scanned. The staff were frequently apologising for the machines. This may be another reason that VP959 sees no-one using them even though there's a queue.

reynoldsno1
22nd Jan 2018, 20:46
To be honest, I'm not even particularly happy using self service tills in shops ...

I do - and they normally have a lurker there to check your age if you're buying booze, or using your own bag, or the barcode won't scan ... but if there's a till free I'll use that as it's usually quicker. I'm what they call a pensioner in the UK.

SpringHeeledJack
22nd Jan 2018, 21:22
I recall speaking to an acquaintance in 2006 who was about to launch a trial store where a preregistered customer would be able to walk into a store and put items in their bag and walk out again. All 'purchases' were recorded by RFID tags on the items and on the customer (perhaps by a fob or tag ?). I remember listening incredulously and doubting that it would work in the UK, where a good few might just walk in and walk out helping themselves. The trial was in Germany, but i never heard anything more in the ensuing years.

I find facial recognition too much, but looking at the rush for the iPhone X with it's FR tech, people are enchanted, more than deterred. I might be wrong, but it's starting to feel just a tad oppressive at times.

One Outsider
22nd Jan 2018, 21:25
Imagine what will happen when insurance companies get a hold pf your shopping data. Or the HNS.

G-CPTN
22nd Jan 2018, 21:42
'We' accept the tracking that mobile telephones inflict upon us (akin to wearing an electronic tag) - the public not only offered no objection, they actually rushed to adopt these devices despite rejecting identity cards as being too intrusive.

Funny old World . . .

One Outsider
22nd Jan 2018, 21:55
Yes, G-CPTN, but only because it is completely hidden that your position is monitored. That is why all who are eager to collect and use your personal data is doing their utmost to kept their data collection hidden from you.

The fact is that everyone have lost control of their personal information and privacy. Those responsible are continuing to keep that fact from the public and keep pretending that they are just trying to "improve the customer experience".

MG23
23rd Jan 2018, 02:31
You will be advertised to whether you like it or not, wouldn't you prefer to be shown things you may actually want to buy that items you have no interest in?

'Targeted advertising' has to be one of the biggest scams since the beginning of the Internet. After all this trouble that companies go to to try to track me, all they use it for is sending me adverts for... things I already own.

'Oh, you posted about buying a car. So I'm going to send you ads for cars for the next three years. Clearly if you bought a car, you'll be eager to buy another one.'

Complete and utter garbage.

I've only ever once intentionally clicked on an Internet ad. And then I bought it from someone I know instead.

vapilot2004
23rd Jan 2018, 02:54
All of the complaints in this thread can be rightly laid at the doorstep of the board of directors of your friendly "neighborhood" conglomerate. Free enterprise, "progress", and profit.

The self-service revolution began in the states with petrol stations. Airlines followed not long afterwards. Both offered discounts and perks for going human-less, and the majority of the public, not unlike their corporate overlords, chose money over people.

It is true, as a few have mentioned that the youth are partly to blame, as they would much rather interact with a machine than a person, cost savings aside.

obgraham
23rd Jan 2018, 03:36
So, VAP:
Would you rather that we still:

Had to go into the bank and line up at the teller to get some cash?
Got rid of the airline check-in kiosks and went back to lining up for the check-in clerk (like in Europe)?
Had to wait at the gas station for the surly attendant to come out and scrape your car?

Well, all of those can still be done. But I view the automation and self-service of these as progress.

vapilot2004
23rd Jan 2018, 05:55
I'm providing explanation, G, not complaint, really.

I accept change and generally don't mind the automation, unless I have an issue that requires a bit of, err, finesse, or, when the things go TU and no help is to be seen for miles around. Given the choice, I prefer to be attended to by a fellow human, preferably a friendly*, and I like the fact that my business supports their job.



*When offered the choice of machinery or a grouchy bars toward, I'll go for the machine every time.

Ancient Mariner
23rd Jan 2018, 06:18
So, VAP:
Would you rather that we still:

Had to go into the bank and line up at the teller to get some cash?
Got rid of the airline check-in kiosks and went back to lining up for the check-in clerk (like in Europe)?
Had to wait at the gas station for the surly attendant to come out and scrape your car?

Well, all of those can still be done. But I view the automation and self-service of these as progress.

No check in kiosks in "Europe"?
Strange, in this part of Europe they've been around for ages. And here we dropped ATMs about the time they became popular over there. ;)
Per

vapilot2004
23rd Jan 2018, 06:39
I recall being told not so long ago that the Brits that invented the ATM. She was an Irish gal with green eyes, and I had little reason to doubt her.

VP959
23rd Jan 2018, 06:56
One of the things that concerns me most is that the companies putting in place these systems are being untruthful about their reasons, and few people seem to bother to look beneath the veneer of their supposed benefits to the consumer in order to find out what is really driving the companies to invest in this technology.

There's an old saying that you need to follow the money. Take automated checkouts, of the older type. One person can oversee around 6 of these, doing age checks, fixing the odd product that's the wrong weight, so the store saves 5 jobs by installing 6 automatic checkouts. That's pretty clear in terms of cost saving to the store.

Loyalty cards have already been mentioned, the data collected from them is far more valuable to the company than the small discounts they give, and it's notable that as the price of data comes down, as a consequence of other data acquisition methods, companies are trying to reduce the already small benefits.

The hand-held self-scanners give the company a double whammy. They get to keep and use the same data they would get from a loyalty card, and they save staff numbers by reducing the demand on conventional checkouts.

The biggest cover up has to be "smart meters". The primary reason the energy companies want to introduce them is to solve a problem they've been batting with for years. Wholesale electricity is sold at a price determined every half hour, based on supply and demand, and varies a great deal through the day, as well as through the year. Until now, suppliers have had no way of applying half hour variable tariffs to customers, as they have never had a fine enough data set. Smart meters solve that problem, as they allow the tariff rate to be changed through the day, and the customer informed of this variable price. The saving to the suppliers could be significant, as they no longer have to bear the risk of estimating the average wholesale price over a long period of time in order to set the tariff rate for customers. They can just pass on the changes, plus profit and their overhead cost, as they happen. Sadly the technology seems to have let them down a bit, with the SMETS1 meters proving to be unable to be swapped between suppliers easily, and the newer, and more secure, SMETS2 meters being very slow to roll out.

I was a bit puzzled about the whole smart meter TV advertising campaign, because years ago, when we switched to British Gas (we've since switched away again) they gave us a free indoor "energy" meter display. It wasn't that accurate, but did show how much we were using at any time in exactly the same way as the ones being supplied with "smart" meters do, (and the "smart" meter ones are just an inducement to have one of these meters fitted, nothing more). I recently mentioned to the meter reader that comes around a couple of times a year that he'd be out of a job when we all had "smart" meters. He replied that he wouldn't, as he'd still have a legal requirement to check the meter, and anyway the "smart" meter cannot deal with generated/exported energy, so he had more than 20 years work just reading generation meters.

I think the penny is beginning to drop about data gathering from devices like phones, tablets, PCs etc, as there seem to be more stories about this. It does seem odd that the police have to jump through hoops to get this data, when the companies that have free access to it can use it more or less as they wish. It's almost as if we have given these companies more control over us than the police.

obgraham
23rd Jan 2018, 07:02
No check in kiosks in "Europe"?Well they don't seem to show up on my (admittedly infrequent) flights there. Still have to stand at a desk recently.
The last 2 years: Turkish,Air Malta,Lufthansa,TAP,Delta & United.

Heading back in 3 weeks -- we'll see about BA. Hopefully things are better now. But praying that the level of service does not decline to the levels of our US godawful carriers.

obgraham
23rd Jan 2018, 07:08
Speaking of intrusiveness getting worse: automobile insurance. Major US insurers are already pushing to install a monitor in your car. State Farm's device tracks speed, acceleration, and hard braking.

And then they decide how much to charge you.

Soon we won't be able to opt out of it. SOB's.

KelvinD
23rd Jan 2018, 07:19
I recall being told not so long ago that the Brits that invented the ATM
And they did.
obgraham: Insurance companies in the UK have been insisting on these gizmos for some time now in the case of young drivers. And they are now becoming available on a voluntary basis for anyone else.

ExSp33db1rd
23rd Jan 2018, 07:52
and then fumbling about in a handbag to find cash or credit card

meanwhile muttering ... " I know it's in here somewhere, I'm sure I brought it"

A few years ago they would then produce a cheque book and start writing a cheque, at least we seem to have stopped that exercise ?

'twas all easier when my Mum gave me a straw basket, a list, and a pound note, to go to the grocers, where a man in a white coat would run around like a one armed paperhanger collecting the items from my list and putting them in my basket, then he'd give me two bob change and I'd walk home. Now I have to do all the work myself, then struggle with the weighing and paying machines, or put up with some teenage stranger asking me what sort of day I've had, and if I tell them in detail they quickly lose interest, so why ask ? And what twisted dwarf designs the overhead signs for the aisles ? Why does one have to be super intelligent to find Kleenex ( or similar ) tissues, why aren't hand tissues, kitchen towels, bathroom toilet paper all filed in the same aisle, instead of different categories in distant aisles known only to themselves, aren't they all "paper goods" ?

and by the way... a pox on all the damned Loyalty Cards, Coffee cards, petrol discounts systems etc. Why don't the retailers just knock a couple of bob off everything and have done with the lot of it ? LIFE would be a lot easier.

I sometimes regret that "man" invented the wheel, it has led to all this nonsense.

Ancient Mariner
23rd Jan 2018, 08:57
Well they don't seem to show up on my (admittedly infrequent) flights there. Still have to stand at a desk recently.
The last 2 years: Turkish,Air Malta,Lufthansa,TAP,Delta & United.

Heading back in 3 weeks -- we'll see about BA. Hopefully things are better now. But praying that the level of service does not decline to the levels of our US godawful carriers.

I don't think it is who you travel with, but where you travel to/from. Most regular airlines have kiosks at Oslo Gardermoen (OSL) and Sandefjord Torp (TRF). You can even check in at the train station if you travel by "Flytoget" to OSL, and that was started 2009/10.
Manpower is expensive over here. I haven't been to my bank since I had to go there to sign the papers when we bought a new house a couple of years ago. No need to, all's done on the 'net.
My wife sold a traditional Norwegian costume the other day, and was paid in cash. Two thousand pounds for a used dress. :hmm:
She went to the bank to deposit, no humans involved in the transaction.
Since I hate standing in line, I welcome each and every opportunity to avoid it, Orwell's 1984 be damned.
Per

ExXB
23rd Jan 2018, 09:09
Why would you check-in at a counter or a kiosk, when you can do it online? Baggage drop? We have machines for that too.

Europe is not in the dark ages.

Krystal n chips
23rd Jan 2018, 09:20
I'm sure there was probably a bunch of old men complaining about the increased use of the telephone once upon a time.

You don't have to use Facebook, Amazon, Self service or loyalty cards if you don't want to. Leave it to the younger generations who value automation and ease of use.

Personally I have no problem with it.

I get emails from Amazon showing me books I might like which I usually do as they are based on previous purchases. My Spotify creates playlists of music that I might want to listen to based on my previous ones. I get in my car and speak to Google to say where I want to go if I don't know the way and it puts the route in my GPS without having to take my hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. Should I be lost I can even just say take me home as it knows my address. I could say take me to my mothers house and it will. I get vouchers through the post for items I actually buy or to eat at places I actually go to. And I don't worry about this as I have nothing to hide.

The fact companies won't give my details to the police only shows how robust their privacy policies are. This info is very valuable to them so they are not likely to sell it or give it away.

If you could compare two people going about their lives. One only using a non IT based system for everything and another with it all linked up and automated, the result would seem light years apart.



First, well done for getting something correct....not quite a precedent I admit, but, comparatively rare enough to warrant a mention. Nobody has to use any forms of IT or automation if they don't want to.

However, it's the bit about, erm, getting lost that's quite amusing. You see, there are those rather old fashioned bits of metal called....road signs and, worse still because they are still printed, publications called....maps.

For old technology, they work remarkably well....if you know how to use and read them that is.

Tankertrashnav
23rd Jan 2018, 09:38
... and, worse still because they are still printed, publications called....maps.

There is a discussion on Facebook about Ordnance Survey maps which apparently can now be downloaded onto your phone, tablet etc. The IT crowd were busy scoffing about why anybody would bother with a bit of paper when it could all be on your device. When the question was posed - "what do you do when you are lost in the Cairngorms and your battery dies?", there was no answer!

Also when somebody queried why magnetic variation was not shown on the downloaded version, one of the IT geniuses asked "What is magnetic variation?"

:ugh:

Krystal n chips
23rd Jan 2018, 09:53
There is a discussion on Facebook about Ordnance Survey maps which apparently can now be downloaded onto your phone, tablet etc. The IT crowd were busy scoffing about why anybody would bother with a bit of paper when it could all be on your device. When the question was posed - "what do you do when you are lost in the Cairngorms and your battery dies?", there was no answer!

Also when somebody queried why magnetic variation was not shown on the downloaded version, one of the IT geniuses asked "What is magnetic variation?"

:ugh:

Reminds me of a former poster on here whom I had the misfortune to know, albeit only in passing thankfully.

He had decided to get a PPL and thought that navigation was dead easy, no need for maps for example because, well, technology would provide all that was needed...he thought it amusing to have infringed the Waddington zone one day flying VFR, having missed the large conurbation and cathedral located just to the North as he headed East...difficult to do really...as far as I'm aware, thankfully the AAIB were never troubled by his cavalier arrogance as he ceased flying. Even managed to fly to GLA as a scheduled pax when intending to fly to, erm EDI.

Ancient Mariner
23rd Jan 2018, 10:29
GPS, with paper map backup, that's me.
Except last March on our way to a hotel in Lima. Just picked up the rental car with GPS, @ 23:00 hrs the thing went black, charger kaput. Interesting.
Besides, cheaper to update GPS than bying new maps.
Per

treadigraph
23rd Jan 2018, 10:36
A few years ago I drove my niece and my mum from Purley to a hotel at Drighlington near Leeds without reference to a map or GPS. Niece was astounded. How did I do that? No map... no GPS... She was, like, OMG!

A22s, M25e, M11n, A14w, A1n, M62w, A62n, A650w, first right, Premier Inn on the left. What's difficult about that? I did check the M62/A62 junction on Google Streetview first, just make sure there were no gotchas!

goudie
23rd Jan 2018, 11:55
I've never had satnav and as I rarely go far these days have no need for one.
Some years ago I accompanied my brother driving to southern Spain when we came across a blocked road. The satnav took us on an alternative route and eventually we were back on track. I was quite impressed.
Needless to say he didn't have any maps!

obgraham
23rd Jan 2018, 16:01
I don't think it is who you travel with, but where you travel to/from.I expect you are right, Per.
Much of the check-in claptrap seems to be involved with meeting silly requirements of TSA for any flight that might involve USA. However, I don't see why it all can't be done just once, instead of the 5 or more places I got reviewed en route to my flight at Schiphol one recent morning.

I realize that mentioning logic and TSA in the same breath is folly.

G-CPTN
23rd Jan 2018, 16:36
we came across a blocked road. The satnav took us on an alternative route and eventually we were back on track. I was quite impressed.

Satnavs are very good for that - particularly when you are in a 'foreign' (ie unknown) area.

MG23
23rd Jan 2018, 17:07
You don't have to use Facebook, Amazon, Self service or loyalty cards if you don't want to.

How are you going to log into a site that requires you to use Facebook to log in, if you don't use Facebook? How are you going to use a human-staffed checkout at a store if they've all been replaced?

Heck, pretty soon you won't even be able to get a burger at McBurgerShack if you don't have a smartphone to run the ordering app (which will presumably then sell your order history to medical insurance and 'targeted advertisers').

VP959
23rd Jan 2018, 17:39
How are you going to log into a site that requires you to use Facebook to log in, if you don't use Facebook? How are you going to use a human-staffed checkout at a store if they've all been replaced?

Heck, pretty soon you won't even be able to get a burger at McBurgerShack if you don't have a smartphone to run the ordering app (which will presumably then sell your order history to medical insurance and 'targeted advertisers').

I think a lot of people just do not get your last point. Facebook, as an example, is a massive data correlation company, probably the best in the business. They don't make money by seeing your interested in sausages, so serving you adverts for them, they make money by correlating as much personal data about you as they can and selling it on to the highest bidder.

Health insurance is a great example, perhaps not so applicable here in the UK with the NHS, but probably equally applicable to life insurance. If a company comes along and presents an insurer, to use just one example, with a package of personal data that includes your eating, drinking, driving, web browsing, TV viewing etc habits, it's not a great leap to see how an insurance company might be interested in that data, as, together with the self-submitted data and that they have obtained from medical examinations, would be very valuable in both setting the premium they will charge you, or even whether they will insure you at all.

We're already seeing that with devices that log your driving habits and are used to set car insurance premiums, and a logical extension of that is to apply it to health and life insurance. If you don't drink, have a nice healthy diet, don't spend hours sat watching the TV etc, then you don't have a problem. For those that do they could find that in this great age of data sharing they become a liability.

Sallyann1234
23rd Jan 2018, 17:45
All correct, VP.
Except they don't sell it to the highest bidder. They sell it to as many companies as are willing to pay the price.
And judging from the number of new staff they are going to recruit in London, it's a very profitable business.

Trossie
23rd Jan 2018, 18:29
"the energy generation (and energy consumption) etc, etc. I enjoy seeing how well I can use this data (stored on a USB stick and analysed about once a month or so using a spreadsheet) to improve the air quality, comfort level and efficiency of our new home.

Erm, most energy suppliers provide something called a Smart Meter....and, it's free !....tells you everything you need to know strangely enough.

Let's just have the first bit of that sentence that KnC tried to quote from, vizI will admit to loving some technology. I have our new house wired up with various sensors and a home made data logger that records the temperatures of lots of things, the relative humidity, the CO2 level, ...

These 'Smart Meters' that 'tells you everything you need to know strangely enough', do they tell you about the temperatures of lots of things, the relative humidity, the CO2 level?

Have I missed something, or has someone not read something, or has it been some 'selective quoting' to sound 'clever'?

(I've got a very efficient and very old fashioned 'smart meter'. Mine has one of those wheels that 'whizz' around when I'm using a lot of electricity and is almost stationary when I'm using very little. Or... is it the meter that's 'smart' or is it that I'm 'smart' enough to be able to understand and interpret it? Best still is that it doesn't tell anyone else anything about what I am doing at any particular time unless they come and ask me to see it directly, usually when they want to take a meter reading although I normally take it myself and send it to them when appropriate. In other words, I have a say over who has access to my data and when. To me that's smart!)

vapilot2004
24th Jan 2018, 00:57
Facebook and Google both wield great potential power in having enormous piles of data with which to learn about people individually, and their social patterns collectively and ultimately, through their platforms, how their subject's thoughts and actions can be manipulated.

Krystal n chips
24th Jan 2018, 05:35
Let's just have the first bit of that sentence that KnC tried to quote from, viz

These 'Smart Meters' that 'tells you everything you need to know strangely enough', do they tell you about the temperatures of lots of things, the relative humidity, the CO2 level?

Have I missed something, or has someone not read something, or has it been some 'selective quoting' to sound 'clever'?

(I've got a very efficient and very old fashioned 'smart meter'. Mine has one of those wheels that 'whizz' around when I'm using a lot of electricity and is almost stationary when I'm using very little. Or... is it the meter that's 'smart' or is it that I'm 'smart' enough to be able to understand and interpret it? Best still is that it doesn't tell anyone else anything about what I am doing at any particular time unless they come and ask me to see it directly, usually when they want to take a meter reading although I normally take it myself and send it to them when appropriate. In other words, I have a say over who has access to my data and when. To me that's smart!)

Well to answer your first question, yes, you have missed something albeit this is generally true irrespective of the context.

You see, I am bemused as to why anybody would wish to spend their time collating data to then pore over on a spreadsheet.

I find the smart meter quite useful however...saves me removing my shoes and socks to give me extra calculation capacity for a start. Air cond ?....open / close window as required. Heat retention?....same for doors.

I do have fire and carbon monoxide alarms however.

Love the last paragraph though .....lets be honest here. The arrival of the abacus in Yorkshire is still being hailed as a quantum leap in technology, so I can't blame you for sticking to the tried and tested really.

KelvinD
24th Jan 2018, 06:10
Re the GPS v Map thing. I prefer using a map (paper or electronic) but I have to admit to using GPS and Mrs Google to help me out the day before yesterday. My brother had a couple of lads doing a job in Wimbledon and they had an urgent requirement for some steel banding. It took some time to locate a distributor with some in stock and they turned out to be in Hayes and he asked me if I could collect and deliver it for him (he is based on the Wirral, while I am darn sarf in Hampshire). I checked a map and tried to memorise it and off I went. The road works and sundry other diversions meant that I had to stop and check the map for the last mile or two, while in Hayes. Having collected the stuff, I again checked the map for a route to Wimbledon, set off and got it wrong! I knew something was awry when I saw signs for Hounslow. Because of the difficulty with stopping anywhere, I gave in and asked Google to plot a course, turned on the Mrs Google voice and had her direct me. A God send!
Meanwhile, my youngest lad (in his twenties) has gone to Snowdon for a week to indulge his passion for landscape photography. He has the smart phones, iPad etc but the first thing he did upon arriving in Caernarfon was to source and equip himself with a selection of OS maps. I am glad he chose to abandon the technology and to go for the compass and paper option!

ExSp33db1rd
24th Jan 2018, 07:10
Also when somebody queried why magnetic variation was not shown on the downloaded version, one of the IT geniuses asked "What is magnetic variation?"

A student pilot recently asked me... What's a sextant.

one could weep.

One might revile those of us who eschew I.T. and the modern way, but ... on another thread is the sorry tale of a Boeing 737 that only just got airborne on the full length of the available runway, because .... it appears ( from what I've read so far ) that the crew inserted the wrong temperature data into the magic I.T. stuff and then only opened the throttles as much as was determined, incorrectly, by the gadget. One might have thought that any reasonably experienced pilot might have considered that the amount of "push" he gave the throttles didn't seem enough, but then ... I suppose he just hit the auto-throttle button and let all the I.T.toys do their job without actually being physically in the loop, which seems to be the modern way.

Years ago I flew with pilots who were ex-WWII, some of whom couldn't cope with the then modern radio instruments to align themselves with the runway, i.e. use VOR radials. or ILS approaches, but drop out of cloud too high, not lined up and say ... " The runway's over there,Sir" Never forgetting the Sir of course, and they would straighten up and fly an immaculate hand held approach and landing, using only their eyes and hands.

Don't forget the old gag, "Welcome aboard the world's first fully automatic pilotless aircraft, and sit back secure in the knowledge that nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong."

As a start .. driverless cars ? Forget it, and bring back the grocer with his white coat, who did all the work that we now have to do ourselves in the supermarkets.

Example of progress ... Barclays Bank in the UK keep writing to me to visit my "local branch" to give them a copy of my signature, which they seem to have lost at some time over the last 50 years. I live in New Zealand. Doubtless the letter has been "Auto" written by some I.T. programme that has no conception of the address that it "auto" prints.

Was mankind right to invent the wheel ?

wiggy
24th Jan 2018, 07:49
Baggage drop? We have machines for that too.


TBH having seen the problems some have with self service bag drop and those wrap around sticky labels that would beat a black belt in origami into submission I reckon self service baggage drop is indeed “a step too far”.

VP959
24th Jan 2018, 07:51
Being deliberately provocative, and getting back to the original story that started this thread: Amazon opens a supermarket with no checkouts - BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42769096) , I wonder how it would cope with several shoppers wearing burquas?

The aren't saying for sure how the technology works, but it must collect enough biometric data to be able to positively identify an individual. If it can do that with people wearing clothing that is all-enveloping, then perhaps a better use for the technology might be in screening people for hidden weapons or bombs.

That then begs the question as to whether the technology in use includes the same sort of body scanners that effectively "see" through clothing, to the underlying flesh outline. If it does, then that opens up a more interesting can of worms...................

surely not
24th Jan 2018, 09:37
I try not to use the self service checkouts mainly because they are taking away yet more jobs, The youngsters getting their first taste of wage earning with part time jobs, the OAPs boosting their pensions with part time work, the Uni students getting holiday work to help pay off their student loans.

The population is living longer and the Govt is spending more money looking after them, but people resent the taxes needed to pay for this. At the same time we seem to be hellbent on taking away jobs that people can do to maintain some self reliance.

Never mind 1984, life is starting to mimic the Aldous Huxley book, Brave New World.

wiggy
24th Jan 2018, 09:50
I try not to use the self service checkouts mainly because they are taking away yet more jobs,

+1........

surely not
24th Jan 2018, 10:01
The new IT jobs are fine for the youngsters perhaps, but not for a lot of the older people you find on check-outs.

Ahhh well it probably isn't too long until autonomous aircraft are introduced and the numbers of pilots required drops hugely. I will happily watch as you advocate letting those jobs disappear as it is the natural way of things................

Trossie
24th Jan 2018, 10:12
I try not to use the self service checkouts mainly because they are taking away yet more jobs,

Add me to that list. On the very rare occasion that I have gone through a self service checkout (usually due to a younger member of the family saying "it's quicker") there has been some item that somehow has needed the attendant's assistance and the whole process has take longer. No, I stick to check-outs with people at the till: you can exchange some pleasantries with them and get smile. The self service checkouts deprive you of that pleasure.

(The abacus in Yorkshire? It's great as no electronic Big Brother has any link to what I am calculating!!)

VP959
24th Jan 2018, 10:26
No they don't. They do exactly what you suggested they didn't do. If you don't want to Facebook to store your data then do not use Facebook, it really is that simple. Too many people think the internet is a free service. All these websites cost a lot of money to set up and run. It is not a charity run just to let people find out what their friends are up to, it's a business.

Having the communication and social channel that FB provides, completely free is a good thing and would have been unthinkable just a couple of decades ago. The fact you may get some adverts that are tailored to your interests is a small price to pay. We all spend many hours on here over the years yet some put add blockers on which to me is like watching TV without a licence.

Facebook and others do not sell your data. It is way too valuable to them for that.



Again, completely wrong.

Except that Facebook reluctantly admit to being one of the very best data correlation companies around, and they can't make all that revenue from streaming targeted ads, as that doesn't come close to their total revenue stream.

Sure the "free" service they offer is the enticement to get data, in just the same way as store loyalty card discounts. As Sallyann1234 said, they can and do sell that data to anyone, and that is where much of their income comes from. It's one reason they are not so worried about loss of advert revenue by offering censorship, whereas other services that are more dependent on advert revenue are.

Reverserbucket
24th Jan 2018, 10:32
Working on a checkout is not a skill needed by anyone. Let these jobs disappear and be replaced by the masses of IT related ones that have sprung up over the last decade or 2.
Jobs will always be made redundant by technology whilst at the same time creating new ones.
I've worked with people who have come from the IT industry and almost without exception, they demonstrate poor social skills, don't interact easily with colleagues in a team environment or show much empathy for others. This may sound broad-brushed but based on my experience, this is what I've observed. By contrast, and although not well paid, cashier work offers plenty of human contact and is a great opportunity for youngsters to develop some personal skills whilst doing something meaningful as well as practicing a bit of basic numeracy and not staring at a screen for hours on end (they do that at home).

I also prefer to use the service checkout rather than self-serve for much the same reasons mentioned by others but also because I enjoy the human and social interaction (not every time of course) but if you shop in the same places regularly, you will understand.

Sallyann1234
24th Jan 2018, 11:00
Facebook and others do not sell your data. It is way too valuable to them for that.

That depends how you define 'sell'.
Advertisers on e.g. Facebook pay them to send targeted ads over their sites, using the data collected by Facebook. The raw data may not be sold, but the result is the same.
Perhaps you may prefer it to be said that the 'use of the data' is sold.

VP959
24th Jan 2018, 11:08
Sorry but they don't. If you can prove they do I would be interested to hear about it. I spend a lot of money every month on Facebook advertising and I do not get given any personal data whatsoever. In fact they are very much against it.

Let's apply some simple logic and see where it takes us (as sure as hell Facebook are not going to release their customer list).

You said earlier, quote:


Facebook and others do not sell your data. It is way too valuable to them for that.


Now, something only has a value if someone else is willing to buy it, that's economics 101. People hoard stuff hoping it will increase in value so they can sell at a profit, people pay what they do for a house, car or whatever because they perceive that it has value.

Why should a multi-billion dollar company collect something and not sell it, as, by your logic, it only has value to them? To use an American term (that I personally dislike), how do they monetize all this "valuable" data to generate revenue?

We know it isn't just by ad serving, as the numbers don't stack up. Targeted ad revenue isn't massive, and is one reason that companies that do rely on that as their major revenue stream have been changing their policies in the opposite direction to Facebook (YouTube is a good example, where they've recently changed the criteria before they will start to share ad revenue with content creators).

VP959
24th Jan 2018, 11:42
Targeted ad revenue also brings in billions for other big players, like Google. However, two of the big players, who also seem to be two of the best at collecting and correlating data, Facebook and Amazon, generate revenues that seem high for the amount of advertising they deliver.

It's pretty damned obvious that the level of detail that both Facebook and Amazon have about people who use their services is massive. Let's take an example. They will know what your diet is, how old you are, whether you may have an illness, what medications you buy, what sort of mood swings you may have,, etc, etc, all because people freely give them all this information, all the time.

That is incredibly valuable data, far, far more valuable than just knowing someone's age, gender and shopping preferences. Are they seriously just going to sit on that and not try to make money from it?

Take another example, that's similar. Why are Google investing so much money in collecting medical records and developing software to correlate those records? What's more, why aren't they charging anything to those that are giving them those medical records, in fact they are offering diagnostic tools as a reward?

A few quick sums shows they are unlikely to come close to getting their investment back, even if they do sell their diagnostic aids well, which begs the question as to where the revenue will come from. We already know that the data they've been given isn't adequately anonymised - I mentioned this in another post where I managed to de-anonymise my own, supposedly anonymised, medical records in less than an hour, just using what was available freely on the web as correlating data. A company with good correlation systems could do this in fractions of a second, and so have fully detailed medical records for any set of supposedly anonymised data they were given. Clearly this data has a massive value to people like insurers, lenders, employers etc.

VP959
24th Jan 2018, 14:19
There is no selling off site of personal details. This info is so valuable as people pay fb to use fb to advertise. If they sold the details then they would lose revenue from fb adverts so it wouldn't even make sense.

In effect they are selling personal records, though. You've said yourself that you can choose your target demographic when buying advertising from Facebook. So, by definition, Facebook have sold you a service based on personal records.

Advertisers like yourself are extremely unlikely to be the only people who use the massive data banks that these companies have accumulated, either. The value of that data to so many non-advertising related businesses is massive, and not at all restricted to just those who want to place advertising business. Why on earth would Facebook (and the same applies to Microsoft, Amazon, Google and others) invest so much money in exceptionally good correlation software techniques if all they wanted to do was offer targeted advertising?

One of my former colleagues (our old IT manager) reckoned that Facebook's ability to correlate data from multiple sources in order to add value to it was at least as good as, perhaps better than, similar correlation techniques used by our security services. In terms of the shear volume of personal records they hold their capability probably exceeds that of either the UK or US security services, too. I've seen demonstrations of anti-terrorist data correlation techniques (but obviously don't have the details of the way they work) and it's impressive to see just how easy it can be to put together a personal dossier that is very comprehensive.

With everyone leaving a digital breadcrumb trail, data correlation has become big business, and is one of the areas where Facebook (and probably Amazon and the others) lead most government agencies, in terms of capability.

What they are selling is a service, using that data, just as they are selling you a service using some of the same data. The fact is they have far more data about anyone who's used their application than they need for just targeted advertising, just as the other companies do (although my personal view is that some of the big players are probably playing catch-up with the likes of Facebook and Amazon)

As for google collecting medical records, there are numerous fields these companies are getting involved in. We will have to wait and see what they offer in the future but there would be no way Google would collect medical records to sell that info. They would be writing their own death warrant.

How would we ever know what data has been sold/exchanged? Pharmaceutical companies would just love to get their hands on the real-world performance of both their, and their competitors products. Very few organisations actually do comprehensive correlation of this data at the moment, and it's surprising just how misleading much of it is. Health insurance providers in countries that rely on private insurance for healthcare provision would clearly be extremely interested in more accurate data, particularly if it was tied to an individual.

I've recently a volunteered to become a reviewer for an international organisation that collates and correlates research studies and medical trial data and which collectively tries to sift out any bias and either reach a firm conclusion or state unequivocally that there is just inadequate reliable data to say for sure whether any particular treatment or medication is of benefit. It has been a bit of an eye-opener to see just how much of a mess some of the supposedly reliable data is in, and how flawed a lot of the studies have been that have been intended to show the efficacy of some treatments. I can wholly understand why Google wants in on this. The organisation I've applied to help relies on volunteers and is non-profit making, but a company with good data correlation capability, with access to the same data, together with the added correlation from medical records, could produce an extremely valuable data set, and I'm absolutely certain it could, to use that rather unpleasant (to my ears) term, monetize it.

VP959
24th Jan 2018, 15:14
I agree that it is possible, but not at all easy, to opt out of the data gathering that these companies use in order to earn revenue. Facebook is pretty easy to opt out of, just never use a Facebook service or visit a link to a Facebook page, as visiting a link will result in data collection, and will usually either give a pop-up requesting more data/membership or just gather data that is allowed (including your browser profile as a tracking and ID aid) , plus, in all probability, tracking data (unless you explicitly set up your machine, router, browser etc to stop this).

In some cases you cannot opt out of the data collection, or if you do choose to you will find that in fact you have not opted out of some of the "hard wired" data collection. For example, every single user of Windows 10, and all those using older versions of Windows that have accepted updates without specifically opting out of those that enable data collection, have accepted a clause in the terms and conditions that grants Microsoft the right to, in their words, straight from their Ts and Cs:

Personal Data We Collect
Name and contact data. We collect your first and last name, email address, postal address, phone number, and other similar contact data.
Credentials. We collect passwords, password hints, and similar security information used for authentication and account access.
Demographic data. We collect data about you such as your age, gender, country and preferred language.
Interests and favorites. We collect data about your interests and favorites, such as the teams you follow in a sports app, the stocks you track in a finance app, or the favorite cities you add to a weather app. In addition to those you explicitly provide, your interests and favorites may also be inferred or derived from other data we collect.
Payment data. We collect data necessary to process your payment if you make purchases, such as your payment instrument number (such as a credit card number), and the security code associated with your payment instrument.
Usage data. We collect data about how you interact with our services. This includes data, such as the features you use, the items you purchase, the web pages you visit, and the search terms you enter. This also includes data about your device, including IP address, device identifiers, regional and language settings, and data about the network, operating system, browser or other software you use to connect to the services. And it also includes data about the performance of the services and any problems you experience with them.
Contacts and relationships. We collect data about your contacts and relationships if you use a Microsoft service to manage contacts, or to communicate or interact with other people or organizations.
Location data. We collect data about your location, which can be either precise or imprecise. Precise location data can be Global Position System (GPS) data, as well as data identifying nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots, we collect when you enable location-based services or features. Imprecise location data includes, for example, a location derived from your IP address or data that indicates where you are located with less precision, such as at a city or postal code level.
Content. We collect content of your files and communications when necessary to provide you with the services you use. This includes: the content of your documents, photos, music or video you upload to a Microsoft service such as OneDrive. It also includes the content of your communications sent or received using Microsoft services, such as the:

- subject line and body of an email,
- text or other content of an instant message,
- audio and video recording of a video message, and
- audio recording and transcript of a voice message you receive or a text message you dictate.


Additionally, when you contact us, such as for customer support, phone conversations or chat sessions with our representatives may be monitored and recorded. If you enter our retail stores, your image may be captured by our security cameras.

Google Ts and Cs also allow them to read and use the content of emails sent and received via their services; in effect Google is collecting and correlating data in the same way as Microsoft, or Facebook. In effect anything written in an unencrypted ** email using one of these systems or services is being looked at an data gathered from it to be correlated with other data to build up a personal profile of every user.

I agree that there is the potential to use some of this data for good, too, but equally there is the potential to use it to disadvantage some. Whether you take the view that having a number of large corporation controlling large banks of data on a very marge number of individuals is good, in the sense that there is an altruistic element to this that will benefit the whole of mankind, is a personal decision for anyone that chooses to use them.

My personal view is mixed. I think there may be an altruistic element to this, but that right now it is massively outweighed by the potential to disadvantage those individuals who may have an illness, be in some other personal difficulties. The potential is there for this data to be used to exclude individuals from access to insurance, finance, health care etc, in some countries. Whether that is seen as a good or bad thing comes down to your personal viewpoint.

I can say that I'm typing this on a machine that is connected to a router that has a large blacklist of known data collection servers (run by several companies) and that blacklist includes all the current ad server/ad tracker services that are well known (people regularly sniff these out and update the list I use). I also don't have any of the data collection services running that Microsoft, rather sneakily, added, hidden amongst normal updates, plus I run through a VPN that does a reasonably good job of hiding my true location, in terms of spoofing my IP address. By nature I'm afraid I don't trust any of these large companies; a view based on their observed behaviour over the past few years.



** encrypting emails "may" possibly stop Google (to choose one of the "free" email providers") from reading the content and adding that data to their data base, but it probably doesn't work for Microsoft operating system users, as the encryption occurs after the OS has had access to the unencrypted text, I believe.

VP959
24th Jan 2018, 16:47
OK, I still really don't understand what the issue is with advertisers sending you adverts for items you could be interested in rather than those you have no interest in.

I don't understand why anyone would not want to help the software you use be improved by sharing your usage patterns etc. We all use items such as mobiles etc. that benefit from a user interface designed using this data.

I don't understand why people expect to have the free use of a well maintained site such as Pprune, Facebook, Twitter etc. without contributing just by letting adverts be shown.

I do understand why people would not want actual specific personal data to be sold or shared with other companies. Most companies do not do this, at least the reputable ones. If they do then you should avoid them.

Like you say, it is a personal choice and you obviously know how to stop most of it. Most people don't mind enough to go to the trouble of even ticking a box and opting out.


I think we're on essentially the same wavelength. I have no problem with targeted advertising, as long as there is a way that I can choose not to be subjected to it, and I accept that by doing so I may not be able to use or access some services. That's my free choice, and in my view that is how it should be.

The problem I have is that most of these companies are, IMHO, inadequately transparent about what they are doing and what personal data they are extracting from you and using.

Some will fairly argue that they have obtained your explicit consent, for example Microsoft require your consent to give them access to pretty much any personal data they want as a condition of using Windows 10 - you cannot install it without specifically agreeing to do this in their terms and conditions, but equally that same company installed personal data snooping code in updates to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users machines WITHOUT explicitly telling those users they were doing this. It took some snooping to discover what was going on, plus a bit of work to remove the offending code updates (which, BTW, doesn't impact the functionality or security of the OS at all).

Google, as another example, provide options in Android for turning off some data gathering options, including location data. However, as recently revealed, turning this off may not actually turn it off at all; Google were still gathering user location data even with this option supposedly turned off. Equally, in terms of level of trust, Google collected masses of wifi data when they were driving around with their Streetview cars, taking photos. They had no reason to record all this personal wifi location data at all, but did so anyway, without getting any permission from users, and stored it.

As another example, there was a police case recently where the police obtained a warrant to gain access to sound data that had been recorded on Amazon servers from a smart speaker, even though no "key word" was believed to have been used, because they felt that the audio might aid them as possible evidence. The implication is that audio data from these devices may be transmitted and recorded without your explicit knowledge - it's not at all clear how much audio is collected, or whether it is used to augment the personal data dossier that they build for every user.

So it comes down to trust, and our personal judgement as to which companies to trust and which not to trust. I will freely admit that I do not trust any company that accesses my personal data without obtaining my explicit permission, and I wish to be able to control exactly how much personal data I share with any of them. I choose to share some personal data with this website, for example, but in part that goes back to the day I joined, when Danny was running it. If I was to think about joining now, I may choose not to, as at the time I joined I felt Danny was reasonably trustworthy, and I really don't know very much at all about the current owners.

Right now, getting enough information to make a decision as to whether to use any online service is getting to be pretty challenging. To allow my Sony tablet to work securely I had to root it and change the operating system from Android to LineageOS, which is truly open source and which allows you to have no Google code running on it at all. That works fine, in fact it's faster than it was when running Android, and the battery lasts longer, but it's not something I would suggest everyone do, as it does require a bit of fiddling with the unit that both invalidates the warranty and which could render it inoperative if you make an error in the process.

Similarly, most of my PCs (except this one) run Linux, which again is reasonably secure and free from any form of snooping code. That just leaves browser settings and security, but it isn't hard to set up a non-Google or Microsoft browser to be reasonably secure. About the only things that's challenging is to prevent tracking using browser profiling, but even that is possible with a bit of effort.

tdracer
25th Jan 2018, 00:46
There have been predictions of massive unemployment due to mechanization/automation pretty much since the industrial revolution. Hasn't happened, at least not long term, don't expect it ever will. Every new technology creates a disruption when it makes certain jobs/skill obsolete, but the bottom line is people adapt, and the associated improvements in efficiency and productivity mean that the average person's standard of living is massively better than it was a century ago, and live like royalty compared to the 1700's.
For some reason when they remodeled the grocery I frequent, they got rid of the self checkouts, but the local home improvement store I frequent still has them and I'm a regular user. I love being able to go in, find what I'm looking for, walk over to the self checkout, scan the item, stick in my credit card, and leave. The checkout seldom takes more than 60 seconds. Sure, if I'm doing a major project and have a basket full of stuff, I head to one of the manned checkouts (they'll also call over someone to help me load if I have something big and heavy) - but if it's just one or two items it's so much faster to do the self checkout.
Since the new Amazon store is here in Seattle, it's been getting a lot of attention, and it's almost all positive (there was one article bitching that the Amazon CEO had made $2.5 billion due to the increase in Amazon stock price this week - his reward for putting all those checkout people out of work). Radio dude I was listing to on my way home this afternoon noted that he walked into the Amazon store to get his lunch. He picked up a pre-packaged salad and a drink and walked out - total door to door time 1 minute 13 seconds (apparently that gets printed on the electronic receipt they send you).
There has been talk for years of stores where everything has an RFID chip - you'd walk in, collect what you want, and walk out through a scanner that would charge your credit card (my understanding is the Amazon store uses a different technology with sensors that monitor when something is removed from the shelf). Personally, those few friendly words I exchange with the checker generally don't compensate for the five minutes I had to wait in line to get there - I look forward to the new technology.

surely not
25th Jan 2018, 07:40
There has been talk for years of stores where everything has an RFID chip - you'd walk in, collect what you want, and walk out through a scanner that would charge your credit card (my understanding is the Amazon store uses a different technology with sensors that monitor when something is removed from the shelf).

Can it cope with people who pick something off a shelf, read the labels, inspect the potential purchase, decide against buying it and put it back onto the shelf?

VP959
25th Jan 2018, 07:54
Can it cope with people who pick something off a shelf, read the labels, inspect the potential purchase, decide against buying it and put it back onto the shelf?
Apparently so.

The big unanswered question is how the biometric data is being acquired with such accuracy. They seem to use several sensors, but not, as far as we know, fingerprint or retinal scanning.

Facial recognition may be a big part of it, but that often doesn't work that well with people who have their heads or faces covered. Gait analysis is reasonably effective, but really just as confirmation that someone is who you already think they may be.

My guess is that they are probably using a combination of techniques, and that the main one may well be whole body scanning, as used at some airports, which can effectively "see" through clothing and then pattern match the shape of the naked body underneath.

They are clearly being a bit cagey about the sensors used, as they don't want others to know how they are doing it, but the above would be my best guess.

Whether we all would be happy with them having that much biometric data, including, in effect, digitised facial and, perhaps, naked body images (if they are using body scanning techniques), is another matter.

Whether we trust that this data will be held securely and not used for another purpose is another big question to be answered, in my view.

ExXB
25th Jan 2018, 08:22
RFID chips still too expensive.

Krystal n chips
25th Jan 2018, 08:28
Can it cope with people who pick something off a shelf, read the labels, inspect the potential purchase, decide against buying it and put it back onto the shelf?

That's all very well, but, can it cope with those of us who are dedicated to buying those reduced items as the labels seem to need frequent human input of the bar code.

SpringHeeledJack
25th Jan 2018, 09:09
My guess is that they are probably using a combination of techniques, and that the main one may well be whole body scanning, as used at some airports, which can effectively "see" through clothing and then pattern match the shape of the naked body underneath.

Is that what those arches are at UK airports as you exit the blue/green/red channels after baggage reclaim ? Only seen them the last 2 years or so.

VP959
25th Jan 2018, 09:38
Is that what those arches are at UK airports as you exit the blue/green/red channels after baggage reclaim ? Only seen them the last 2 years or so.

Some airports have them, some don't. They do reveal the naked body under your clothes, so are useful for being able to spot anything untoward that a passenger may have hidden under their clothing. My understanding is that at airports that have body scanners, you can still request a "pat down" check, if you're concerned at someone seeing through your clothing. Some body scanners also try to blur or obfuscate the images of genitalia from the operators screens, I believe.

They've been around a fair time now. I remember seeing a demonstration of the technology by Qinetiq, at the Farnborough show, a fair time before I retired, so at least 8 to 10 years ago. There was also quite a stir in the media about the operators being able to see intimate details of passengers, hence the opt out provision with the "pat down" option.

Krystal n chips
25th Jan 2018, 09:52
Erm....the lighter side of technology ( sent by a friend )

A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture in Montana when suddenly a brand-new 2018 BMW advanced toward him out of a cloud of dust. The driver, a young man named Cliff in a Brioni® suit, Gucci® shoes, RayBan® sunglasses and YSL® tie, leaned out the window and asked the cowboy, "If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?"

Bud looks at the man, who obviously is a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, "Sure, why not?"

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell® notebook computer, connects it to his Apple iPhone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop® and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany ...

Within seconds, he receives an email on his Apple iPad® that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL® database through an ODBC connected Excel® spreadsheet with email on his Galaxy S5® and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet® printer, turns to the cowboy and says, "You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves."

"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves," says Bud.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on with amusement as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then Bud says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?"

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not?"

"You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government", says Bud.

"Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, “but how did you guess that?"

"No guessing required." answered the cowboy. "You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You used millions of dollars worth of equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don't know sh*t about how working people make a living - or about cows, for that matter. This is a herd of sheep.”

“Now give me back my dog.”

ExXB
25th Jan 2018, 10:30
Some airports have them, some don't. They do reveal the naked body under your clothes, so are useful for being able to spot anything untoward that a passenger may have hidden under their clothing. My understanding is that at airports that have body scanners, you can still request a "pat down" check, if you're concerned at someone seeing through your clothing. Some body scanners also try to blur or obfuscate the images of genitalia from the operators screens, I believe.

The question was about the arches on leaving the baggage hall. I don't think these have scanners, but one never knows.

At security, I believe the full body scanners no longer show the naked body, but indicate areas the official should be focusing on. i.e if a baddie had a gun hidden in her bra it wouldn't show the naked boob, but indicate that the boob should be inspected.

VP959
25th Jan 2018, 10:37
The question was about the arches on leaving the baggage hall. I don't think these have scanners, but one never knows.

At security, I believe the full body scanners no longer show the naked body, but indicate areas the official should be focusing on. i.e if a baddie had a gun hidden in her bra it wouldn't show the naked boob, but indicate that the boob should be inspected.


That makes sense. I remember at the time that the technology was being demonstrated by Qinetiq there was a fair bit of concern about operators being able to see intimate details. Having the machine just as a means of highlighting areas of interest for a more detailed search seems a reasonable way around the privacy concerns that I remember being talked about a fair bit at the time.

Tankertrashnav
25th Jan 2018, 10:51
That scanner thingie reminds me of the ads in the 50s and 60s where you sent off a postal order for half a crown to Gamage's Bargain Basement to receive an amazing device that allowed you to see through walls, etc, and become a secret agent. Large number of young lads must have been disappointed to find the damn things didn't work when they pointed them at the girl next door and discovered that her dress remained disappointingly opaque!

SpringHeeledJack
25th Jan 2018, 11:40
The question was about the arches on leaving the baggage hall. I don't think these have scanners, but one never knows.


Indeed it was metallic arches after baggage reclaim and any customs/blue channel. I'm curious to know what they are detecting, but perhaps more so if it might be hazardous to the body. As it's not announced, or pre-warned I'm assuming that it must be implied agreement by walking through it (not that there's any other choice!).

VP959
25th Jan 2018, 11:54
I've done a bit more digging around and it seems that the Amazon store technology may (or may not) be as invasive as previously suggested.

All customers do have to ID themselves as they enter the store, using a QR code scanner. The store then tracks individuals as they move around and records what they pick up off the shelves based on location and weight sensors on the shelves (so it can tell if something has been picked up and put back, for example).

What's not been revealed (presumably for commercial confidentiality reasons, amongst others) is how they are very accurately tracking individuals around the store, from sensors that can only really use biometric data in some form. There is reference to multiple sensors and an implication that the system does not rely on just a single biometric ID methodology, but that's as much detail as I can find easily.

Tracking people from CCTV images is a reasonably well established technique, but all the demonstrations I saw of this (as a part of the London 2012 security arrangements) weren't that convincing. It seemed to work well in open spaces, but not that well in crowds or when switching from one camera view to another, even with physical location data being passed over as a part of the camera hand over process.

Somehow, Amazon has some up with a way of remotely being able to identify an individual and accurately tie them to the ID they used as they entered the store via the scanners. I think there are a fair few people in the security services that are practically wetting themselves over being able to get their hands on this sort of accurate biometric tracking, even without the initial QR code ID part.

Be interesting to see if any more details are revealed as to what sensors are being used, particularly if they are using some form of body scanning technology that can "see" through clothing to be able to positively ID an individual from their body shape.

My best guess is that they may well be doing this, but reducing the body shape to some form of unique hash code at the sensor, so that no images, as such, are used beyond the sensor itself. That would seem to be both a logical way to do it, and one that removes most of the privacy concerns that might otherwise have arisen (and I'm guessing that they have disclosed how the system works to all the Amazon staff that have been using it during the development trial stage).

tdracer
25th Jan 2018, 20:20
Somehow, Amazon has some up with a way of remotely being able to identify an individual and accurately tie them to the ID they used as they entered the store via the scanners. I think there are a fair few people in the security services that are practically wetting themselves over being able to get their hands on this sort of accurate biometric tracking, even without the initial QR code ID part.
You need to have a special app on your phone - hence I suspect they don't use biometrics so much as simply track your cell phone.
I do wonder what they do if two people are standing right next to each other when one removes something from the shelf...

VP959
26th Jan 2018, 07:49
You need to have a special app on your phone - hence I suspect they don't use biometrics so much as simply track your cell phone.
I do wonder what they do if two people are standing right next to each other when one removes something from the shelf...

I doubt that would work well, TBH.

If the app has location services enabled, so is able to transmit GPS position when requested, then that's still only going to pin someone down to within a couple of metres, far less inside a store where the chances are the GPS DOP will be a lot higher.

Tracking using the phone's regular tower ping will be far too slow, most phones only interrogate the nearest tower every few tens of seconds, so someone could have moved tens of metres between pings.

Using Bluetooth for tracking may be possible, but not at all easy, especially not in a crowded store where you need to track dozens of people simultaneously. All these methods would almost certainly fall over if a customer was to make or receive a call using their phone in the store, too, I think. It seems common in our local supermarket for people to be wandering around using their phones, too.

Krautwald
26th Jan 2018, 08:10
Not against technology and progress. But I am old-timey concerned for all the ordinary people. If forced to choose, I could live in a world without automated supermarkets but not in a world where all the menial workers are obsolete. You can either feel sorry for them now and exercise some restraint, or you will have to fear them later.

tdracer
27th Jan 2018, 20:08
Tracking using the phone's regular tower ping will be far too slow, most phones only interrogate the nearest tower every few tens of seconds, so someone could have moved tens of metres between pings.The cell 'towers' are located all over the store - constantly communication with the phone via the special app. Resolution is centimeters... Suspect it's tough on battery life when you're in the store though.
Still not sure how they deal with two people standing right next to each other...

G-CPTN
27th Jan 2018, 20:16
Consider two people who enter the store together.
One 'shops' then hands the items to the other and they part company and leave the store separately.

VP959
27th Jan 2018, 20:30
The cell 'towers' are located all over the store - constantly communication with the phone via the special app. Resolution is centimeters... Suspect it's tough on battery life when you're in the store though.
Still not sure how they deal with two people standing right next to each other...

If that's the case, then it disables the phone for any other use whilst in the store, as the main phone voice/data link (whatever type) can only handle a single active connection at any one time, but it can switch between them very quickly.

It would also use some of the phone users data allowance all the time that they are in the store, so effectively you're paying for data all the time you're in the store.

Finally, every tower transceiver, no matter how low power, has to be registered and in communication with the service provider. If Amazon have managed to negotiate with every service provider in order to operate a system like this then they've clearly invested a great deal into the project.

tdracer
27th Jan 2018, 21:44
If that's the case, then it disables the phone for any other use whilst in the store, as the main phone voice/data link (whatever type) can only handle a single active connection at any one time, but it can switch between them very quickly.Most (all?) modern phones can readily deal with voice and data at the same time - heck I can google something while holding a phone conversation on the same subject (been there, done that).

VP959
28th Jan 2018, 08:20
Most (all?) modern phones can readily deal with voice and data at the same time - heck I can google something while holding a phone conversation on the same subject (been there, done that).

Yes, via the same connection. There is (in effect) normally only a single full duplex transceiver in the phone, and voice is just data anyway on the mobile network, so in reality there is just one data stream to and from the nearest tower.

If the Amazon system is using a large number of micro cells inside the store in order to get accurate RDF data, using 3D triangulation, then every single one of those microcells has to be connected to the phone user's network in order to allow both calls or data to be used by the phone whilst the store is also tracking it. That implies multiple contracts with service providers with Amazon for every single microcell in the store.

I guess it's feasible, but given the other tracking technologies available then it doesn't seem likely. I would have thought they would have used the easiest/cheapest methods they could find, and I doubt that setting up multiple microcells, with multiple contracts with service providers, would be either the easiest or the cheapest way to track phones.

There's also the problem that it tracks the phone, not the person (and Amazon have already admitted that one of the early glitches was in accurately detecting differences in body size, which implies they are scanning for biometric data, not just tracking phones), so if a couple enter the store, one has their phone QR read and the other does the shopping, the system is going to fall over. Even something like a phone battery going flat, or a phone being turned off, would stop it working if it used this technique.