Omnipotent Amazon

2018, Technology  -  42 min Leave a Comment
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It's an Amazon world, and we just live in it. Industrialization has given way to a new age where data rules the day, and Amazon stands at the mountaintop of that phenomenon. Consumers appreciate their vast selection of products, the fairness of their pricing options, and the convenience of fast delivery. The company is so popular that they now control nearly half of all online trade in the United States, and their influence continues to swell in territories around the world. In the glow of this stratospheric success, however, there are detractors who fault the company for intrusive data practices and potential privacy violations. Omnipotent Amazon profiles these growing voices of dissent while weighing the costs and benefits associated with the global giant.

Amazon collects reams of data - a volume that could fill as many as thousands of printed pages - on each of its users. From that data, they can create a fairly accurate personality profile. Most consumers view this function as an added convenience; a means by which the company can recommend additional products that might be of use to them.

Amazon's highly intuitive database knows your preferences, your relationship status and the most intimate details of your personal life. As illustrated in the film, it might be able to detect if you are pregnant before you even know it yourself.

Beyond the issue of data collection, the film also exposes the company's other misuses of power. Employee wages are stagnant, and as many as 1/3 of their employees are on government food stamps. The company pays very little to no taxes in the regions where they maintain their headquarters and distribution centers. Whistleblowers have testified to brutal and extreme working conditions.

Their sphere of influence includes space travel, news media and access to legislators. Some of their technologies have aided law enforcement agencies in matters of surveillance and facial recognition.

Omnipotent Amazon calls upon the expertise of data experts, consumer advocates to weave its cautionary tale. The consensus of their viewpoints is clear. While we might reap great benefits in the short run, the control Amazon holds over our society could result in a darker future for all of us.

Directed by: Martin Herzog, Marko Rösseler