Google Launches New App for Lucrative Surveys

google

San Francisco, London — Google has launched a new app called “Google Opinion Rewards” which allows users make some profit after taking surveys which are usually conducted by certain companies.

The US Company said the new app is currently available for IOs users in the United States. A user can receive 99 cents for answering the survey’s questions through this app.

According to the German News Agency (DPA), Google stated that the surveys cover all topics and fields, from the favorite TV shows to the apps that people love to use.

The CNET.com website reported that the brain-picking surveys usually take less than 30 seconds and are always 10 questions or less.

The user receives a notification on his mobile device when a new survey is ready, and if he’s just not that into one of them, he can simply skip it. The money he earns goes to whatever PayPal account you’ve linked to the app.

Google’s Instant Translation Headsets are Likely Anomalous

Google

London, Asharq Al-Awsat — In light of having different accents and vocabularies in the same language, the Guardian newspaper concluded that the new Google in-ear translation headsets may not be a useful gadget.

A few months ago, Google has invented new set of earphones that can simultaneously translate spoken language directly into the ear of the listener, when coupled with the correct headset and software.

According to the Guardian, the aim of many new technologies is to remove speech from the process of communication, so the excitement generated by Google’s in-ear headphones seems curiously anomalous.

The British newspaper considered that the success of Google’s new headset is like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy starred by Douglas Adams, this represents nothing less than the first coming of the Babel fish, an aquatic creature that excretes simultaneous translations directly into its host’s ear canal.

The Guardian saw that Adams knew what he was doing. By making his Babel fish a naturally occurring phenomenon, he was implicitly acknowledging the impossibility of humans ever producing something “so mind-bogglingly useful”, capable of tackling not just the raw vocabulary of a language, but also the cultural baggage that goes with it.

The newspaper reported that interpreters in Brussels still regale newcomers with the tale of the newbie who translated, “En ces temps difficiles, il faut compter sur la sagesse normande” quite correctly. The problem is that, “In these difficult times, we must count on Norman Wisdom” has quite a different message for native English speakers.

But at least when humans fail in their translations, they are usually making some attempt to understand what it is they’re translating. To really screw things up, you need a computer.

The Guardian continued: “I have no idea who was responsible for the road sign “Cyclists dismount” being translated into Welsh as “Bladder disease has returned”, but I suspect something went wrong while copying and pasting.

The same with “Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i’w gyfieithu”, which is not Welsh for “No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only”, but means “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.”

Shuly Wintner, associate professor of computer science at the University of Haifa, quotes an early example of computer mistranslation in his 2005 introduction to computational linguistics.

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” was put through Altavista into Russian, he says.

“The vodka is excellent but the meat is lousy” may well have been true, but it almost certainly wasn’t what the writer was looking for.

Spare a thought, too, for translators working the other way around. Donald Trump’s incoherent speech patterns are currently driving Japanese interpreters to distraction. Such is the structure of Japanese that you can’t begin to translate a sentence from English until you know what it’s about.

“When the logic is not clear or a sentence is just left hanging in the air, then we have a problem … There’s no way we can explain what he really means,” one shell-shocked interpreter told the Guardian in June.

Google Responds to Complaints of Massive Media Companies

San Francisco, London – Following complaints from media giants like News Corp that their sales were suffering, Google has announced that subscription news websites would no longer have to provide users three free articles per day or face less prominence in search results, relaxing its rules.

For the last decade, Google’s “first click free” policy helped ensure that non-subscribers wouldn’t be stifled by paywalls when they clicked on news articles from searches.

Google, the largest component of Alphabet Inc., had contended that free samples would lead to increased subscriptions.

But apart from a few publications, online subscriptions haven’t taken off as intended, and media companies such as Wall Street Journal parent News Corp. increasingly complained that freeloading users were cutting into sales.

This year, the Wall Street Journal stopped abiding by Google’s policy, corresponding to a drop in search rankings but an increase in subscriptions.

According to Reuters, Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president for news noted: “Over the last year, we got clear indications that, yes, it was going to be important for publishers to grow subscription revenues.”

He said the number of news outlets with paywalls had reached a critical mass in the last year, to the point that it made sense for Google to start developing tools for them.

From here on, publishers will be able to choose how many, if any, free articles they want to offer to Google searchers. Google also plans to launch free software in the coming months for publishers that enables users to pay for content with credit card information that they’ve previously supplied to the search giant.

Google’s New Parental Control App Has Flaws

New York- The only consensus among parents about the right age for a child to have unfettered access to a smartphone is that there is no magic number.

But if you sign up for Family Link, which is Google’s new parental controls software for managing children’s Android phones, Google decides for you. At the age of 13, a child can choose to “graduate,” as Google calls it, or lift restrictions, getting the keys to the internet kingdom and all the good and bad things that come with it.

That’s too bad, because at first glance, Family Link has all the hallmarks of a winner. It is free, well designed and packed with thoughtful features for regulating a child’s smartphone use, like the ability to monitor how often a game is played or even to lock down a device during bedtime.

Yet nearly all of those benefits are undermined by Google’s decision to let children remove the restrictions the instant they become teenagers.

“The fact that the kid can graduate themselves is just preposterous,” said Jesse Weinberger, an internet safety speaker who gives presentations to parents, schools and law enforcement officials. “It takes the power out of the parents’ hands, which is a big no-no.”

Google made Family Link available for public testing in March, though the software is still in development and available for use on an invitation-only basis. Before it goes wide, I tested the parental controls for a week and assessed the features and policies with child safety experts.

The takeaway: If you are contemplating the purchase of an Android phone for your child but want to restrict access, there are better parental apps out there that give you more control. Or you could buy your child an iPhone, which has restrictions that can’t easily be removed.

An Overview

Family Link has lots of perks that may be a boon for parents. To set it up, request an invitation to the program on Google’s webpage and wait for an email with a link to install the software. The app is available for both iPhones and Android devices.

Inside the app, you can create Google accounts for your children, sharing information like their names and birth dates. Then when your child logs in to an Android phone, the device immediately requires you, the parent, to log in and install the Family Link app onto the device so it can be monitored.

From there, Family Link is a breeze to use. On the parent’s phone, tapping on the child’s account profile brings up a list of options. You can follow a child’s location, which can be useful for safety purposes or for picking the child up from school. You can also approve or reject apps that a child is trying to download — so if you’re reluctant about Snapchat or an addictive game like Boom Beach, simply block the apps. Parents can also get a weekly report to see how often a child is using a certain app, like a game, and choose to have a conversation with the child about using the software responsibly, or block the app temporarily.

Parents can also use Family Link to create restrictions for how children browse the web. You can turn on a filter that blocks mature websites, though Google acknowledges the filter is imperfect and some offensive sites may get past it. For a more nitpicky approach, you can also require the child to get permission for each site visited, blocking the ones you disapprove of.

Parents will probably love a feature called screen time, which can be used to set limits for how long a child can use a phone each day. For instance, you could give the child three hours of screen time on weekdays. You can also schedule regular bedtime hours that lock down the device at specific times — between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., for example. Before the device is about to be locked, the child gets a notification; when the screen locks down, the child will still be able to answer phone calls to talk to the parent or tap on an Emergency button to call the police.

Caroline Knorr, the parenting editor of Common Sense Media, which evaluates content and products for families, applauded the screen time feature, noting the difficulty of getting children to put down their phones. But she said sticking with time limits and schedules would be complicated. A child may not be done using a device to work on a science report by the time the screen locks down at 9 p.m., at which point the parent would have to manually unlock the device, she said.

“It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it thing where parents think, ‘Oh, great, this is going to solve all my problems,’” she said. “We’re all still learning this technology, and life is very unpredictable.”

Why 13?

All these neat parental controls start to come undone the day the child turns 13. At that point, Google gives the child the option to be free of the Family Link restrictions or stick with them — and I can’t imagine any child choosing the latter.

Saurabh Sharma, Google’s product manager for Family Link, said the policy was designed this way because 13 is when people can register for Google accounts without parental consent. That complies with a federal regulation in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which forbids companies from collecting data from children under 13 without a parent’s approval.

Yet I would argue that Google should design a policy with parents’ best interests in mind. It could let the parent decide when the child has demonstrated safe, responsible smartphone use and graduate from all restrictions. That might happen when the child turns 13, 15 or even 17. But the children should not be allowed to strip away settings just because they turn 13.

“It’s hard for me to understand why a parent would give a kid a phone and then turn off all the features through the app and then grant them all the features once they turn 13,” said Ms. Knorr of Common Sense Media. She said the age of 13 was related purely to the federal regulation, not safety or childhood development guidelines.

By comparison, Apple’s iPhone includes restrictions like limiting adult content on websites, turning off in-app purchases and preventing a child from burning through your cellular plans. The restrictions can be changed or removed only with the correct passcode set by the parent — it doesn’t matter how old the child is.

Google’s Mr. Sharma said Family Link was still in testing and the company was continuing to collect feedback from parents on issues including the age policy.

“This is a tricky subject,” he said. “It’s hard to figure out what works for every family.”

Bottom Line

If you agree that your child should get unrestricted access to a smartphone at the age of 13, Family Link is an excellent product. But how can parents ever predict that?

Ms. Weinberger, the internet safety expert, said she had heard stories from parents and children about a 9-year-old addicted to pornography, a fourth grader being “sextorted” by a 13-year-old, and child predators stalking minors through social networking apps. In other words, any child is subject to danger, no matter how old.

For Android users, Ms. Weinberger highlighted a parental control product called Qustodio, which lets parents monitor their children’s text messages, disable apps at certain times of day or even shut off a smartphone remotely — restrictions that don’t vanish the day a child becomes a teenager.

She called Family Link “depressing” because of the age policy.

“We want our kids to have some access and we want to be able to decide,” she said. “We need for Google in particular to be the leader on this.”

The New York Times

Information, Technology Shares Rise to Unprecedented Levels

London- Prices of information and technology shares stabilized this week, following seven trading sessions that witnessed consecutive rise by which the index sector reached a new historic level.

S&P index of this sector recorded an unprecedented level of 995 points last week before it dropped on Thursday to around 987 points, thus the index rose around 22 percent since the beginning of 2017 until August 2.

Silicon Valley analysts stated that the “sector has overcome the tension that resulted from the election of Donald Trump as the US president, especially when he revealed his intention to reduce the number of immigrants entering the US. Tech and internet firms were the first to object over this because their development and innovation depend on attracting talents from abroad.”

Analysts added that after the relapse of this threat, Silicon Valley firms shares witnessed additional rise that is still ongoing, because there is a clear vision in this sector unlike others. This is also supported by the growing profits not to mention optimistic forecasts made by analysts for the upcoming years.

S&P index, however, has changed in shape and content in 17 years – some firms went bankrupt, others lost its relative significance such as computers and phones industry firms while other firms integrated together. Meanwhile, firms of artificial intelligence, smartphones, social network, online payment, e-commerce and cloud computing were advancing.

Analysts saw that there has been a radical transformation in 17 years from the economy of computers and telecommunications industry to the internet of things. Intel value is now three times less and Cisco is less with 60 percent compared to its value in 2000.

In one year, Apple value rose 50 percent, Alphabet’s Google increased 18 percent, Microsoft inched up 28 percent, Facebook rose 37 percent and Amazon 31 percent.

Google Combats ISIS through Limiting Related Search Results

Google

Washington, Jeddah – The spokesman for the global coalition to defeat ISIS announced that May witnessed a drop of 92 percent in Twitter links that take users to pro-ISIS websites.

He told al-Hurra television on Friday that the coalition had set up a hashtag on Twitter aimed at directing users to ways to inform officials of any pro-ISIS content.

The hashtag explains that users are capable of defeating ISIS through the click of a button. If a user sees any ISIS content, they should click on the associated hashtag icon and they will be presented with a guide on how to counter the content.

The same method can be applied to Facebook.

Last week, Google unveiled new technology aimed at decreasing the user access to terrorist videos posted on the internet. This technology was a result of efforts by social media giants Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, which is owned by Google.

A YouTube spokesman explained that when people usually search for a specific video on YouTube, they write a keyword or a number of keywords into a search engine. What usually happens is that the desired video appears in the results. According to the new technology however, a short video about terrorism and terrorists appears in the results in order to warn the user against heading to a certain website or viewing a certain video.

He said that a redirect video appears when a user searches for terrorist or terror-linked videos.

This technology was used to combat racism on YouTube, he revealed. This same method could also be used in the war against terrorism.

In March, several major US companies withdrew their ads from YouTube in protest against it allowing racist, sexual and unethical videos from being posted on its platform. These companies included telecommunications giant Verizon and medical product heavyweight Johnson and Johnson.

The new technology was however criticized by free speech organizations. Executive Director of the Washington-based Center for Digital Democracy Jeff Chester said it was clear that ad companies are exploiting the war against violence, discrimination and terrorism to influence content on social media. This means that the credibility and neutrality of these sites is affected.

Google, on the other hand, considered that searching for principles of Islam could lead the user to sites connected to hate groups that promote violence instead of tolerance. The company therefore became meticulous in displaying results linked to Islam in order to prevent the promotion of wrong information about the religion. This will help limit misinterpretations of the religion, including its teachings on jihad and Sharia.

Several users, especially western ones, connect Islam to terrorist crimes, even though several Muslims in the West are often the victims of racist and hate crimes.

Google relied on mathematical algorithms to assess the search results and determine whether they are offensive to religion or not. If so, the search engine would prevent the display of the offensive websites in the search results. Users had in the past come across numerous websites that are filled with incorrect information on religion when using, for example, “jihad” and “Sharia” in keyword searches.

In addition, Google altered its autofill service, wherein in the past when a user typed in “does Islam…” in the search box, the autofill technology in the past would have completed the inquiry with “… permit terrorism?” The autofill result of “do Muslim women … need saving?” is also now a thing of the past with the new Google technology.

Google had adopted this same approach in combating discrimination against Christianity and Judaism.

Last week, YouTube implemented a new method of countering terrorism by redirecting users searching for violent and extremist content towards anti-ISIS videos. Aimed at targeting terrorist thought before its inception, instead of displaying ISIS videos, the user is shown a video of former ISIS members recounting the details of their ordeal when they were part of the terrorist group. They are also redirected to discussions by religious figures, speaking against extremist ideology.

Alphabet Profits Slide after Historic EU Fine

Google

Alphabet, the parent company of popular search engine Google, saw its slide take a hit on Monday in wake of the historic fine imposed on it by the European Commission.

Alphabet reported a quarterly profit of $3.5 billion, in a sharp decline from a year ago, with a massive $2.74 billion antitrust fine in Europe biting into earnings.

Word that success in mobile, cloud and YouTube is coming with higher costs also contributed to the slump.

The technology giant reported that revenue grew to $26 billion in the recently ended quarter, and that profit would have tallied nearly $6.3 billion if it were not for the fine levied on search engine Google by the European Commission.

Earnings for the quarter fell 28 percent from the same period last year.

Revenue was up 21 percent from the same quarter last year.

Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat said the report showed “strong growth with great underlying momentum,” as the company makes “focused investments in new revenue streams.”

Alphabet shares slid about 3.1 percent to $967.20 in after-market trades that followed the release of the earnings figures.

Reasons for the drop likely included the mixed blessing of Google use booming on mobile devices, bringing in more revenue but also paying more to websites hosting ads.

Alphabet also said it was spending more money on operating data centers, acquiring YouTube content, and its line of hardware, which were cited as growing businesses at the company.

In a verdict that could redraw the online map worldwide, the EU’s top antitrust sheriff, Margrethe Vestager, in June imposed a record fine on Google for illegally favoring its shopping service in search results.

The EU accuses Google of giving its multitude of services too much priority in search results to the detriment of other price comparison services.

The decision — if it survives an expected appeal process — could prove to be momentous for Google, as well as for competition law in general.

Investors have been concerned about what the regulatory trouble in Europe means for Alphabet, which gets most of its money from Google advertising while investing in “other bets” such as self-driving cars and life sciences.

Alphabet took in $248 million in revenue and posted a narrowed loss of $772 million in its “other bets” category in the recently ended quarter.

The rising costs, including what Google pays to drive traffic to its search engine, hurt operating margins more than most people had expected, said Doug Kass, president of Seabreeze Partners Management.

“This could be problematic going forward,” Kass said.

Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat, asked about margins during a conference call with analysts, said the company was focused on getting bigger.

“As we’ve often said, we’re focused on revenue and operating income dollar growth and not on operating margins,” she said.

Increasing costs, Porat added, are a result of more money going into high-growth products that she said would create value for shareholders.

Google and the EU are gearing up for a battle that could last years, with the Silicon Valley behemoth facing a relentless challenge to its ambition to expand beyond search results.

Brussels has already spent seven years targeting Google, fueled by a deep apprehension of the company’s dominance of internet search across Europe, where it commands about 90 percent of the market.

Google to Power Dutch Data Center with Solar Energy, Facebook to Build Housing in Silicon Valley

Google will purchase all the electricity generated by the largest solar park in the Netherlands over the next decade to power a recently opened data center housing thousands of servers, the US internet company and energy provider Eneco said on Friday.

It is part of Google’s ambition to switch its data centers and offices entirely to renewable energy this year, helped by the steep fall in prices for wind and solar energy.

The contract with Eneco, for which no financial details were disclosed, will supply renewable energy for “many months to come, maybe even years”, Google’s European energy manager Marc Oman said.

The agreement comes as the Netherlands makes a push to boost its renewable energy production and is investing 12 billion euros in 2017 in offshore wind farms.

The Eemshaven data center, which cost roughly 600 million euros and opened in 2016, is one of four Google operates in Europe.

In another tech-related news, Reuters said that the shortage of housing in California’s Silicon Valley has gotten so severe that Facebook Inc on Friday proposed taking homebuilding into its own hands for the first time with a plan to construct 1,500 units near its headquarters.

The growth of Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s Google and other tech companies has strained neighborhoods in the San
Francisco Bay area that were not prepared for an influx of tens of thousands of workers during the past decade. Home prices and commute times have risen.

Tech companies have responded with measures such as internet-equipped buses for employees with long commutes.
Facebook has offered at least $10,000 in incentives to workers who move closer to its offices.

Those steps, though, have not reduced complaints that tech companies are making communities unaffordable, and they have mostly failed to address the area’s housing shortage.

Internet User Information Trade Yields $151 bn in 2017

Internet User Information Trade Yields $151 bn in 2017

London- Selling data, or the so-called “Big Data,” has been discussed a lot recently, and it means the amounts of very large personal and professional information that can be analyzed to detect patterns, trends, groups, and situations relating to human behavior and interactions.

This data is a daily cumulative product of what internet and social media users provide from their personal information online, such as photos, personal data, comments about their lives, ideas and affiliations, their diet, travel, health, sport, income, sex, entertainment and cultural interests.

Four companies account for about 90 percent of this significant personal information – Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon – according to a report by International Data Corporation (IDC).

According to specialized reports, the volume of the digital world will amount to 180 Zeta bytes( ZB) (180 followed by 21 zeros) in 2025 due to the high demand for internet in various areas of our lives.

While Facebook and Google, for example, initially used data collected from users to better target their targeted ads, both companies and others have discovered in recent years that this data could be transformed into a number of “cognitive” services and contribute to boosting artificial intelligence. Some generate new sources of income by assessing users’ personalities by screening their writings and visualizing them for purposes that can be sold to other companies for use in their own products or even for use by governments for legitimate security purposes.

That income now forms part of the market values of technology and internet companies, which explains why traditional giants have gone beyond them in other sectors. For instance, the market value of Amazon has doubled 21 times in 10 years while the market value of the US retailer Walmart has increased only 1.5 times during the same period.

If Uber is valued at $68 billion, it is partly because it has the largest set of data on supply (drivers) and demand (passengers). This could benefit companies such as Tesla Motors, which relies on a huge amount of personal transport data to design its latest models.

Global data revenues and business analysis based on these data are expected to reach $151 billion in 2017, an increase of 12.4 percent from 2016, according to a recent report published by IDC that is specialized in research and consultations. The combined annual growth rate for the purchase of equipment, software and services for large data and business analysis for trade will reach about 11.9 percent in 2020.

The report said that annual revenues for both cloud services, data and analysis will increase to $200 billion by 2020.

Whole Foods Deal Shows Amazon’s Prodigious Tolerance for Risk

Whole Foods

New York- Joke all you want about drone-delivered kale and arugula. Amazon’s $13.4 billion bet to take on the $800 billion grocery business in the United States by acquiring Whole Foods fits perfectly into the retailer’s business model.

Unlike almost any other chief executive, Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has built his company by embracing risk, ignoring obvious moves and imagining what customers want next — even before they know it.

Key to that strategy is his approach to failure. While other companies dread making colossal mistakes, Mr. Bezos seems just not to care. Losing millions of dollars for some reason doesn’t sting. Only success counts. That breeds a fiercely experimental culture that is disrupting entertainment, technology and, especially, retail.

Mr. Bezos is one of the few chief executives who joke about how much money they’ve lost.

“I’ve made billions of dollars of failures,” Mr. Bezos said at a 2014 conference, adding that it would be like “a root canal with no anesthesia” if he listed them.

There was the Fire phone, for instance, which was touted as being crucial to Amazon’s future. It was one of the biggest bombs since New Coke. At one point, Amazon cut its price to 99 cents. That did not help.

For any other company, this would have been a humiliating experience with severe repercussions. Wall Street did not blink, even when Amazon wrote off $170 million related to the device.

“If you’re going to take bold bets, they’re going to be experiments,” Mr. Bezos explained. “And if they’re experiments, you don’t know ahead of time if they’re going to work. Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure. But a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work.”

It is an approach baked into the company since the beginning — and one that is difficult, if not impossible, for competitors to emulate. Consider how Amazon Web Services began as a small internal cloud computing project to help Amazon’s core business. Then the company started selling excess cloud capacity to other companies.

Before Google and Microsoft realized it, Amazon had created a high-margin multibillion-dollar business that was encroaching on their turf. They are still struggling to catch up.

If the cloud computing business just grew, Amazon Prime was a bold bet from the beginning, the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet for shoppers: Pay an annual fee and all shipping costs for the year are covered. Amazon’s shipping expenses ballooned, but revenue soared so much that no one minded.

“When you have such a long-term perspective that you think in decades instead of quarters, it allows you to do things and take risks that other companies believe would not be in their best interests,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with the investment firm Robert W. Baird & Company.

Amazon began, for those too young to remember, as a discount internet bookseller in 1995. In the headiness of the late-1990s dot-com boom, it became the symbol of how this new invention called the World Wide Web was going to change everything. Then, like many of the leading dot-com companies, it blew up. The world wasn’t quite ready for Amazon. It came very close to going under.

Mr. Bezos redoubled his focus on customers, largely closed the company off to the media and got to work doing some serious experiments. Amazon developed, for instance, the Kindle e-reader, which for a time seemed likely to kill off physical books entirely.

One thing the retailer did not do was make much money. In its two decades as a public company, Amazon has had a cumulative profit of $5.7 billion. For a company with a market value of nearly $500 billion, this is negligible. Walmart, which has a market value half that of Amazon, made a profit of $14 billion in 2016 alone.

Huge profits at Amazon were always put aside so the company could invest more. This has tended to drive both skeptics — there are still a few, even now — and competitors crazy. “Did Amazon Just Jump the Shark?” was the headline on an article on the investing website Seeking Alpha on Friday.

But the tens of millions of customers do not care whether Amazon is hugely profitable. They care if it is making their lives easier or better.

“Jeff Bezos is making shopping great,” said Chris Kubica, an e-book consultant and software developer who watches Amazon closely. “He’s made me come to expect better from every checkout counter. Oh, I can scan my entire shopping cart full of groceries in one go, without stopping, as I roll into the parking lot? Yes, please. Where do I park?”

After the company’s disastrous foray with the Fire Phone, Amazon could have done what many other also-rans in smartphones do and keep putting out devices that most people ignore in favor of Apple and Samsung devices. Instead, in 2014 it released Echo, a speaker that looks like a small poster tube. The Alexa intelligent assistant, which runs on it, can play music and tell jokes, and now Google, Apple and Microsoft are copying it.

“Bezos is ahead of the game, always,” said Sunder Kekre, a professor at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. “Be it drones or Amazon Go” — a grab-and-go shopping experiment that eschews human cashiers — “he is able to craft smart business strategies and position Amazon quite distinctly from competitors.”

As Amazon pushes on with its ceaseless experimenting, however, it risks being seen as less of a cute disrupter of the old and as more of a menace. It has hired many workers for its warehouses, but it is also betting heavily on automation. Amazon Go, after all, is an attempt to drain the labor out of shopping.

“Amazon runs the risk of becoming too big,” Mr. Kekre said.

Some Amazon critics would like the Whole Foods deal to be the trigger for reining in the company. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a frequent foe of Amazon, noted that the company is “rapidly monopolizing online retail” and that both Prime and Echo “are strategies for locking in consumers and ensuring they don’t shop anywhere else.” Amazon declined to comment for this article.

Where will it all end? Mr. Kubica has thought about this. Amazon can be understood as a decades-long effort to shorten the time between “I want it” and “I have it” into as brief a period as possible. The logical end of this would be the something Mr. Kubica jestingly called Amazon Imp, short for “implant” and also “impulse,” Mr. Kubica said. It would be a chip inserted under the skin.

“The imp would sense your impulses and desires,” Mr. Kubica wrote in an email, “and then either virtually fulfill them by stimulating your brain (for a modest payment to Amazon, of course) or it would make a box full of goodies for you appear on your doorstep (for a larger fee, of course).”

Every desire fulfilled. “I am sure that Amazon even now is building it,” Mr. Kubica said.

The New York Times