It is 1994. It costs $3 per hour to access dialup internet, consumers are using 3.5-inch floppy disks, Mosaic is the web browser it-girl for a split second, and every teenager has gone emo listening to Nirvana. Oh, what a time to be alive. This was also the year that Amazon and Yahoo! opened their web portal doors. But only one of these soon-to-be technology titans would flourish during the onslaught of bubbles and recessions and thrive no matter how the economy performs.
When Jeff Bezos founded Amazon 25 years ago, he decided he was going to change the world and become a billionaire in the process. Suffice it to say, Bezos and Co. transformed our day-to-day living, from the way we shop to jubilantly welcoming a digital spy into our homes. Amazon has become its own ecosystem – and it is just getting started.
From humble beginnings selling books online from a garage, Amazon has transformed into a trillion-dollar business that will soon own the planet. And it will not be done by force, but through satisfying consumer demand. Maybe Earth will be renamed Amazon, and we will all be called Primes. As we have learned, anything is possible.
The last quarter-century has been impressive, so the obvious question is: What will 2034 look like?
Do You Hear an Echo?
Like a lot of corporations, Amazon has not been immune to the allure of government contracts. It is reported that the company could soon enter into a $10 billion deal with the Department of Defense to develop a cloud system. Although the proposal seems innocuous, it could be the first step toward something more malevolent that could affect our liberties. Let’s be candid: The intelligence agencies would love to get their hands on Amazon’s enormous infrastructure, from customer information to real-time data – if they haven’t already.
The Echo device is a terrifying piece of technology because there are so many privacy concerns. Yet, the market is signaling that there is a demand to be voluntarily spied on for the sake of convenience and deals. The latest developments highlight that we should be more diligent.
Liberty Nation’s technology extraordinaire, Laura Valkovic, wrote in November 2018:
“Although Alexa is not ‘supposed’ to record until it hears the user say a programmed ‘wake word’ –usually ‘Alexa’ – to trigger a recording (which is sent to and stored on Amazon servers), the fact that the device constantly tracks for ‘wake words’ logically suggests that it is always listening to its surroundings. Numerous incidents and privacy breaches have revealed that Alexa has access to much more information than Amazon is letting on.”
In other words, Big Brother is watching. But this isn’t achieved through government mandates. Instead, consumers are choosing to dole out $100 to be monitored all the time by the Ministry of Love – no word yet if the body will be headed by Marianne Williamson, girlfriend.
What’s wrong with the public? Americans lambast the federal government’s odious surveillance state (rightfully so), but then millions purchase a personal digital assistant that is always listening a la The Lives of Others.
There is no accounting for the public’s taste.
It’s Time to Go Crypto
Mark Zuckerberg recently released the details of Libra, a cryptocurrency that allows users to pseudonymously purchase items, send money to others with nearly zero fees, patronize third-party wallet apps, or cash out your Libra units of currency. Facebook is not fully controlling Libra; instead, it will maintain a single vote and depend on an open-sourced blockchain. But it is establishing a subsidiary called Calibra that will manage Facebook’s crypto efforts and ensure users’ social media data will not coalesce with the currency, to prevent ad targeting. Indeed, a lot of people are frightened of Libra, including the federal government, which has requested that Zuckerberg hit the pause button on development. But if the social media juggernaut can get into the cryptocurrency game, then why can’t Amazon?
For years, there has been speculation that Amazon would start accepting bitcoin. Amazon has acquired several cryptocurrency-related domain names and even launched a disappointing digital currency in 2013 that was on the same level as Air Miles or frequent flyer points. But the website may bypass the top dog in crypto and launch its own virtual currency. Some experts believe that it is only a matter of time before Amazon delves into crypto. Changpeng Zhao, CEO of crypto exchange Binance, recently tweeted:
“For any internet (non-physical) based business, I don’t understand why anyone would not accept crypto for payments. It is easier, faster and cheaper to integration than traditional payment gateways. Less paperwork. And reaches more diverse demographic and geography.
Amazon will have to issue a currency sooner or later.”
Amazon could do one of two things. The first is issue a finite number of Amazon Coins. The second is to institute an inflationary monetary initiative that matches the company’s growth rate. This would be another layer in the Amazon ecosystem: award coins to application developers, encourage in-app purchases, and reward customers with these digital coins. Considering how immense Amazon is, there are many options the website could consider.
This is Amazon’s world and we’re just living in it. Soon, it will be the solar system, then the galaxy, and then the universe. Perhaps Amazon will go beyond the four-dimensional continuum and ascend to an apotheosis that not even extraterrestrials of the seventh, eighth, or ninth dimensions can comprehend. Amazon can do anything it wants. That typically what happens when you are worth $1 trillion.
Twenty-five years ago, Amazon sold its first book on the dial-up internet and took several days to ship. Today, shoppers can purchase a house on their smartphones and have it delivered for free. In the next 25 years, will customers be able to purchase a teleportation device that allows you travel back in time to dance with Rita Hayworth in a speakeasy, or have a cozy tête-à-tête with Simone de Beauvoir over a cup of tea?
Amazon can do anything it wants. Just be sure that you have a Prime subscription so you are eligible for free two-day shipping for your time machine package.