This is my response to the latest TechCrunch article: Walmart unveils an AI-powered store of the future, now open to the public.
Every time I see this kind of AI-in-retail application, I somehow feel sad. It’s because of the introduction of retail AI is often designed to one particular goal, which is to encourage consumers to buy more foods and goods by analyzing the buying behavior and removing whatever obstacles between the seller and buyer.
To me, this is totally against a food crisis which we will face in the near future. Even worse, more food and good consumption lead to more logistics that will cause more gas consumption. Electric trucks are coming, but it will take decades for every logistic company to adopt them.
In the ideal world, all foods and goods will be produced nearby a consumer neighborhood. Thanks to the innovation happening in plat factory and 3D printing, we are seeing some of them becoming reality. I’m a big fan of startups that are tackling a non-animal based protein problem.
AI should be used to foster the latter, not to drive the current consumption heavy economy. In the long run, the companies that use AI to create a sustainable economy will gain trust from consumers and eventually win.