Amazonia for July 8, 2019

July 8, 2019

Even though many Amazonians celebrated the Fourth of July with their Amazon-ordered grills, spatulas, aprons, and Whole Foods’ goodies — the company’s Bezos bulldozer pulverized some small shrubs and a big tree or two. Here’s a selection of Amazon’s harvest from the previous week.

A Glimpse of the Future of Government IT Procurement

JEDI has not been awarded. Australia, however, has decided upon a country wide Amazon AWS deal. Australia will use the Amazon platform for its government IT. If the deal holds and the system works, traditional procurement approaches will be kicked to the side of the Information Highway. The idea is standardization, lower costs, and efficiency. The fact that these benefits may be difficult to quantify and deliver is beside the point. For details, navigate to “Australia-Wide AWS Deal Could Signal the End for Legacy IT Procurement.” DarkCyber wants to remind you, gentle reader, that the country is a member of the Five Eyes group. Most of the members behave in surprisingly similar ways. Amazon could land IT deals in Canada, the UK, New Zealand, and the United States. JEDI is important to big outfits like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and the companies in these firms’ orbits.

Amazon’s Delete Does Not Delete

I know. Delete means gone, disappeared, vaporized into the ether. Well, not at Amazon. Amazon allegedly retains Alexa recordings even if an authorized user deletes them. There are many different reports about this Amazon approach to deletion. These come from IAfrican to Silicon Republic. Devices can listen. Amazon sells its own line of surveillance devices. Now these devices are migrating to other countries; for example, the UK. Will delete mean retain in other countries too?

What Happens When an Amazon Third Party Seller Fools You?

That’s a good question. I received a pair of hiking pants allegedly with a 36 inch waist. My leg would not fit through the pants leg. I sent the pants back and asked for a replacement pair. I got the replacement with a label stating 36 inch waist. Same problem, my leg would not fit. Never got to the waist. I gave up.

No more. I just gave up.

Amazon Can Be Held Liable for third Party Sales, Court Rules” suggests a different path. DarkCyber learned:

Wednesday’s ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia reversed a lower court decision, and has the potential to expose Amazon to numerous lawsuits related to defective or counterfeit products sold by third-party sellers on its site, Reuters reported. Up to now, such lawsuits have been batted away by Amazon, but this may no longer be the case going forward.

DarkCyber buys hiking pants at a local retail store. That outfit has a dressing room, not a court judgment, a procedure, and merchants who can be surprisingly clever humanoids.

Amazon’s Approach to Smarter Work

The Verge reported about Amazon’s semi-secret conference called re:MARS. At the conference Amazon revealed smart software and smarter robots. According to the write up:

re:MARS is the first public version of Amazon’s secretive MARS (machine learning, automation, robotics, and space) conference. MARS is usually a private event where a few hundred scientists, creatives, and business types are hosted by Jeff Bezos. They eat canapés, attend group meditations, and discuss technologies that will make or break the future. The chat is pretty much the same here in Vegas. But instead of 200 select attendees, there are 3,000 of us shuffling around in lanyards, backpacks, and comfy shoes. And instead of luxury workshops on blacksmithing and sausage making, there are seminars on how to build better robots, smarter AI, and maybe even colonize the Solar System.

Amazon seems to be more “public”. In addition to getting publicity, the Verge quotes one attendee as saying:

“It seems like they’re trying to get the smartest people in the same building and get them to talk to one another,” said Michael Bell, a PhD candidate and research fellow at Harvard’s School of Engineering who was demoing the university’s latest work with soft robotic grippers. “People have come by and asked me whether they can use these things to clean up the oceans. You don’t really get that at other conferences.”

Amazon, therefore, is innovating in conferences as well as drone surveillance within a geo-fenced area. (See the Tuesday, July 9, 2019, DarkCyber for more about this five year old Amazon innovation.)

The conference was interrupted by a pro-animal protester. The author of the write up suggested he felt like a package on a conveyor belt. Plus robots are in the Amazon future.

Chug, chug, chug goes the Bezos bulldozer.

Cat Flap with DeepLens

Digital Trends revealed that an Amazon employee connected the smart DeepLens video camera to an automatic pet door. The link up work. The feline can no longer bring dead animals into the Amazon worker’s home. The Rekognition image recognition system seems to work well for dead birds, deceased squirrels, and terminated rats. People? DarkCyber can only point to the next story in this week’s Amazonia.

Amazon Facial Analysis: Some Blind Spots?

An online information service called Jezebel published “Amazon’s Facial Analysis Program Is Building a Dystopic Future for Trans and Nonbinary People.” DarkCyber has a hunch that this means that Amazon’s facial recognition is [a] inaccurate and [b] biased. You will have to judge for yourself. DarkCyber noted this passage:

Rekognition, in particular, has some prodigious—and highly concerning—blind spots, especially around gender identity. A Jezebel investigation has found that Rekognition frequently misgenders trans, queer and nonbinary individuals. Furthermore, in a set of photos of explicitly nonbinary individuals Rekognition misgendered all of them—a mistake that’s baked into the program’s design, since it measures gender as a binary. In itself, that’s a problem: it erases the existence of an already marginalized group of people, and, in doing so, creates a system that mirrors the myriad ways that nonbinary people are left out of basic societal structures. What’s more, as Rekognition becomes more widely used, among government agencies, police departments, researchers and tech companies, that oversight has the potential to spread.

As Amazon becomes less secret and marginally more open, criticism of Amazon has increased. DarkCyber is not convinced that facial recognition systems vary much from developer to developer. Nevertheless, Amazon image technology is being sold and applied in interesting new ways.

Amazon and Automation: Job Losses? Yep.

Amazon’s Future Vision of AI, Warehouse Bots and Alexa” is an exclusive look at Amazon’s artificial intelligence and automation work and how it may impact jobs.” In a nutshell, humans will have a tough time getting hired after Amazon’s vision is implemented. The write up points out:

Amazon executives say they don’t see gloom and doom in AI and automation, noting that they continue to hire thousands more people to work alongside their warehouse bots and to create the latest machine-learning code.

By the way, code camps may not provide the ticket to future employment. One can give Amazon’s training programs a try. Universities are embracing the Amazon way. Student loans? Not an Amazon problem.

Amazon to Add Jobs in the UK

Forbes reports that Amazon will add 2,000 jobs in the Brexit-challenged country. If those hires take place, Amazon will employ 29,500 people across its more than 17 locations. Forbes suggests that these will be low wage jobs in the Amazon “fulfillment network.” That euphemism translates to warehouses for the DarkCyber team.

Amazon Prime Twitches

DarkCyber has noted that Twitch has out delivered on the Hong Kong riots as YouTube sat back and mostly ignored them. Many of the people with whom Amazon talks after our lectures about Dark Web Version 2 are not clued in about Twitch. Learning about Twitch might be a good idea. Who knows you, gentle reader, might become a streamer.

Amazon wants to be more Twitchy if the information in “Twitch Will Join Amazon Prime Day with Giveaways, Events and QVC Style Live Show” is accurate. QVC is a 24 hour a day live shopping cable TV show. Twitchers stream 24 hours a day, right? Probably a coincidence. DarkCyber highlighted this passage from the write up:

Given its push for more live video, it only makes sense that Twitch would get involved with Prime Day in this way, too. Beyond Twitch’s plans for live video, the streaming site is also offering a number of giveaways and hosting live events.

Perhaps this time Amazon live shopping will deliver the bucks that company needs to pay its taxes, innovate, and support charities. Perhaps?

AWS Security

Cloud computing offers benefits and drawbacks. On the drawback side of the teeter totter is security. “AWS CISO Talks Risk Reduction, Development, Recruitment” reports that:

To mitigate this risk [from insider threats], Schmidt launched an initiative within AWS to radically reduce employees’ access to data by 80%. This was a large number, he noted, and one he partly chose to raise eyebrows – and partly because of its effectiveness. Reducing data access by 10 or 20 percent wouldn’t have had the same effect; an 80% cut forced investment in security tools.

Amazon AWS itself figures in some security issues; for example, data left exposed on AWS systems can be discovered and compromised by bad actors. To cite one example: Navigate to this TechRadar report. Data from Fortune 100 companies were exposed online. The write up, however, does not address that real time, here and now risk. Insider threats are a problem, but are they more significant than the security methods in place for AWS customers? Taken together, is it possible that Amazon has more security issues than some perceive?

Amazon Goes North to Alaska

Amazon’s delivery service has expanded to Alaska. According to Business Insider (pay wall may apply):

Amazon Air is adding another gateway to its network of airports: Anchorage, Alaska. Amazon’s in-house air cargo fleet, which will total 70 planes by 2021, is key to the e-commerce behemoth’s plan to achieve one-day shipping for its Prime members this year.

Alaska is closer to some of Amazon’s providers. FedEx and UPS are likely to dismiss Amazon’s ambitions, but DarkCyber believes that Amazon can disrupt because it may have a slight advantage: Lower wages due to some of its policies.

Amazon: South to Buenos Aires

The New York Times (gentle reader, you may have to pay to access the source article,” reports that AWS will set up a data center in Argentina. This is the seventh data center Amazon has set up in an area which contains the actual organic, green Amazon.

Partner and Integrators

Last week was a quiet one for Amazon’s partner / reseller category.

eLogic Learning is now partners with AWS. Training courses will be parked in the Amazon cloud. Source: MarketWatch

Velocity Technology Solutions is now a strategic collaborator with Amazon. DarkCyber does not know what a strategic collaborator is, but it appears to have something to do with moving to the Amazon cloud. Source: MarketWatch

Amazon: A TV News Focal Point

Love Amazon? Want to know how it changed your life. ABC has the answer. View the video at this link.


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