Amazon Go, the new retail concept where you get to wait in line outside instead of at the cash register
, opened to the public this week. There’s no question that retail is changing, and the debate over Amazon Go quickly morphs into the larger debate about automation: who benefits? Will workers really be better off if their jobs are automated and corporations capture the resulting economic benefits provided by robots and AI?
Trains are also a big focus of this issue. After California’s high-speed rail project announced a cost overrun, much of the media and conservatives pounced to question whether it should move forward. Sydney, Australia is also having trouble with its trains after years of underinvestment.
Finally, I want to call attention to a fantastic writer who died this week. Ursula K. Le Guin leaned on anthropology to build fantasy worlds through which to apply a feminist, anarchist, and anti-colonial critique to our societies. She showed that the “science” in science fiction can also refer to social science, and became one of the most accomplished writers of the twentieth century.
We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art - the art of words.
For more on Le Guin and her work, see this Guardian piece
. She will be missed, but her words will not be forgotten.