Amazonia for February 11, 2019

February 11, 2019

Amazon has been bulldozing away and pushing some jungle undergrowth into the parking lot of major media outlets. Let’s take a quick look at what’s shaking at the electronic bookstore on steroids:

In a New York We May Be Gone

I learned in “Facing Opposition, Amazon Reconsiders NY Headquarters Site, Two Officials Say.” The source? The Washington Post or what some of the DarkCyber researchers call the “Bezos Bugle.” The push back has ranged from allegations of subsidizing a successful company to suggestions that taxpayer money could directly benefit shareholders of Amazon. I learned:

In the past two weeks, the state Senate nominated an outspoken Amazon critic to a state board where he could potentially veto the deal, and City Council members for the second time aggressively challenged company executives at a hearing where activists booed and unfurled anti-Amazon banners. K ey officials, including freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), whose district borders the proposed Amazon site, have railed against the project.

Worth monitoring because if the JEDI deal goes to Microsoft, would Amazon bail out of Virginia?

Indiscreet Pictures and Allegations of Blackmail

Amazon once was a relatively low profile outfit. Then the rocket ships, the Bezos divorce, the JEDI dust up, and now a spat. One headline captures the publicity moment: “Jeff Bezos Says Enquirer Threatened to Publish Revealing Pics.” I don’t want to unzip this allegation. You can expose yourself to the “facts” by running queries on objective search systems like Bing, Google, and Yandex. Alternatively one can turn to the Daily Mail and its full frontal report on this allegedly accurate news story.

Movie Madness

I don’t know anything about the Hollywood movie game. I noted “Woody Allen Sues Amazon for $68 Million for Refusing to Release His Films.” In the context of allegations of blackmail, this adds another facet to the diamond reputation of the humble online bookstore. According to the write up:

Allen blames the studio’s unwillingness to release his films on “a 25-year old, baseless allegation against Mr. Allen” — specifically, Allen’s adopted stepdaughter, Dylan Farrow, telling the world that he sexually assaulted her when she was a child. The suit claims that Farrow’s comments shouldn’t affect the Amazon deal, since the “allegation was already well known to Amazon (and the public) before Amazon entered into four separate deals with Mr. Allen—and, in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract.”

Amazon is taking a moral stand it seems. Interesting in the context of the blackmail allegations. Another PR coup?

Accounting Methods or Fraud?

The Los Angeles Times reported that some Amazon delivery drivers’ tips were not paid to the drivers as an add on to their pay. The tips were calculated as part of their regular wage. “Where Does a tip to an Amazon Driver Go? In Some Cases, Toward the Driver’s Base Pay” reported:

Amazon guarantees third-party drivers for its Flex program a minimum of $18 to $25 per hour, but the entirety of that payment doesn’t always come from the company. If Amazon’s contribution doesn’t reach the guaranteed wage, the e-commerce giant makes up the difference with tips from customers, according to documentation shared by five drivers.

Is this an accounting method related in some way to Enron’s special purpose entities? But in the context of blackmail and a legal battle with Woody Allen, I am not sure how to interpret the LA Times’ report if it is accurate.

Amazon and Facial Recognition

Amazon has thrown some support behind the idea that facial recognition systems may require a bit of regulation. I learned about this interest in “Amazon Weighs In on Potential Legislative Framework for Facial Recognition.” The idea is that responsible use of facial recognition technology may be a good idea. The write up stated:

…Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a study that found Rekognition, Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) object detection API, failed to reliably determine the sex of female and darker-skinned faces in specific scenarios.

Image recognition systems do vary in accuracy. The fancy lingo is outside the scope of this week’s write up. Examples of errors are interesting, particularly when systems confuse humans with animals or identify a person as a malefactor when that individual is an individual of sterling character. Eighty percent accuracy is a pretty good score in my experience. Stated another way, a system making 20 mistakes per 100 outputs is often close enough for horseshoes. A misidentified individual may have another point of view.

Alexa Gets a New Skill

The Digital Reader reported that you can now have Alexa play a choose your own adventure audiobook. Amazon wants to make sure it has a grip on the emerging trend of “interactive fiction.” Perfect for the mobile phone, zip zip zip reader.

Baby Activity API

The engineers at Amazon have chopped another trail through the digital jungle. Programmable Web reported that Amazon’s new baby activity skill API let parents track infant data hands free. Parents should be able to track their baby’s data. Are third parties tracking the infant as well? The write up states:

The new API includes several pre-built interfaces for tracking specific data points, including Weight, Sleep, DiaperChange, and InfantFeeding. Amazon plans to continue adding to these interfaces in hopes of streamlining integration.

If a third party were to have access to these data, combining the baby data with other timeline data might yield some useful items of information at some point in the future. Behavioral cues, purchases, social interactions, and videos watched could provide useful insights to an analyst.

More Live Streaming and a Possible Checkmate for QVC

Amazon Live Is the Retailer’s Latest Effort to Take on QVC with Live Streamed Video” states:

Amazon is taking on QVC with the launch of Amazon Live, which features live-streamed video shows from Amazon talent as well as those from brands that broadcast their own live streams through a new app, Amazon Live Creator.

Will the Twitch model work for remarkable products like super exclusive Tanzanite? QVC may try to compete. DarkCyber believes that effort would tax the shopping channel in several ways. Some cloud pros might suggest putting QVC offering on a cloud service. Will AWS make the short list?

 Amazon Space

Atlantic reported that the electronic bookstore “has 288M sq. ft. of warehouses, offices, retail stores, and data centers.”

Quite an Amazon-scale week.

Stephen E Arnold, February 11, 2019

Comments

Got something to say?





  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta