Data theft means a real Big Bother
BIG shopper is watching you.
Experts have warned that American internet giant Amazon is using artificial intelligence to keep tabs on your every move.
“Amazon is much more than a retailer, it is a data mining business,” retail expert Brian Walker warned.
The online store’s Australian launch this week was branded a fizzer by shoppers and market analysts who criticised its poor choice, high prices and slow delivery.
But Mr Walker said the real business of Amazon was in the data it collected from its shoppers to predict what they were thinking.
“On a global level it is all around data and building encryption to get into the homes and businesses of people,” he said. “People are right to think Amazon is a game changer, but it is not because of price. Over time it will use algorithms and artificial intelligence to predict exactly what we want.”
Amazon says it has employed more than 1000 people in Australia. “But 75 per cent of their employees are computer coders,” said Mr Walker, who pointed to Amazon’s own recruitment ads for computer engineers in Australia.
He said the company boasts about employee numbers but the reality in America is that it has just doubled the number of robots manning its warehouse by 55,000.
Dr Shumi Akhtar from the University of Sydney Business School said the longterm impact of online retail meant jobs would be lost.
“The US retail industry faces growing problems, with nearly a dozen companies pushed into bankruptcy already in 2017 according to (ratings agency) Standard & Poor’s,” she said.
“Credit Suiss e estimates that as many as 8640 stores could close down by the end of 2017. The problem is e-commerce and advancement in digital technology.” However, she said Amazon was not competing on a level playing field. It has based its global headquarters in the European tax haven of Luxembourg, where it pays a fraction of the tax Australian companies pay at home. She said a recent ruling by the European Union ordering Amazon to pay $400 million in unpaid taxes was a “landmark court case on how Amazon shifted their revenue from high-tax countries to low-tax countries by showing massive operational expenses.” Australian Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan said the ATO will be launching forensic audits with other countries to make sure Amazon pays its fair share of taxes in Australia. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.
(Right) retail expert Brian Walker.