Is this really the future you want?

This was first published on our sister blog, Alternative Estuary. It’s not often that we cross post between our blogs but given the issues covered in this post, we think it’s relevant to the audience we get for this blog. This is because it describes a small part of the dystopian future we’ve been warning people about for almost two years.

If any of you are wondering why, on our Alternative Estuary blog, we keep on putting up posts like this – Whoever controls the food supply controls the population – November 2, 2021 – encouraging people to take control of their food supply, here’s why… The supermarket giant, Sainsbury’s, are trialling a cashierless store in London: Sainsbury’s to open first checkout-free store in London using Amazon technology (16.11.21). Initially, it’s being trialled just using their employees from the head office nearby but it’s expected to open to the public on November 29.

Basically, the shop is fitted with technology that will interact with a smartphone app that will automatically deduct what you’ve spent from your account. If the big retailers decide this is the way shopping is going to go in the future, then a smartphone that was once seen as a bit of a luxury will become a necessity just to get hold of the basics in life such as food. At this point, we ought to remind ourselves about the environmental costs of smartphones: Three ways making a smartphone can harm the environment – The Conversation | August 28, 2018.

There are some people who will see a checkout free store as a high point of consumer convenience. There are others, like us, who will see this as another step towards dystopia. Not everyone has a smartphone. For the reasons listed in the piece from The Conversation, not everyone will want a smartphone. Any significant roll-out of stores like this will be blatantly discriminatory as those without smartphones face an increasingly restricted choice of where they can shop to buy food. This particularly applies to the elderly.

It’s easy to see how the technology Sainsbury’s are trialling could be linked to and meshed with other more discriminatory and oppressive technologies. Here on The Stirrer, we’ve written a fair few posts on the dark places these technologies could end up taking us to. Here are just a couple of them: Too much tech? – October 29, 2021 and: Situation report – October 2021 – October 11, 2021.

If as could well happen, the kind of technology Sainsbury’s are trialling at some point in the future is meshed in with vaccine passports that lead to digital identity, eventually overlain by some form of social credit, then we’ll be in a very bad place. Before anyone screams ‘conspiracy theorist’ at us, please take a look at the predictions we listed in Situation report – October 2021. A good number of them have come true, are in the early stages of being implemented or are definitely in the pipeline.

Imagine a future where entry to a food shop and the ability to purchase what you need is linked to a) having a smartphone b) having the requisite amount of social credit. Suppose you’ve been a bit ‘naughty’ and you recently been arrested on a protest. With all the technologies at their disposal, it would be easy for the authorities to punish you by pressing the relevant buttons to ensure you’re denied entry to many food shops. That’s if we let them get away with implementing this.

Note that Sainsbury’s are conducting this trial in a central area where there’s not a lot of competition. It’s a reasonable assumption that when these cashierless, checkout-free stores are rolled out, it will be in central business districts, shops attached to filling stations or stores in or adjacent to new housing developments. Basically, going for the kind of demographic who are willing to embrace this kind of technology without thinking or worrying about the social consequences.

Somehow, we can’t see Sainsbury’s rolling out stores like this in areas where there are a decent number of international food shops run by people of migrant origin. If they did, it’s a reasonable assumption that the proprietors of the international food shops will be gleefully wiping the floor with Sainsbury’s who may only have a few tech obsessed hipster types as customers. The same applies for the smaller towns that have managed to retain a healthy mix of independent food shops. This also applies to anywhere where there are genuine farm shops within easy reach.

To conclude, this is about how we want to source our food. Sainsbury’s are offering one route which is massively over-reliant on technology and can easily be re-configured to act as a form of control. With our Alternative Estuary project, we’re encouraging people to do what they can to gain as much control as possible over their food supply. The kind of dystopian technology the likes of Sainsbury’s are trying to foist upon us can and has to be defeated.

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