Amazon Just Walk Out relies on Indian human reviewers

Occurred: May 2023

Amazon’s automated 'Just Walk Out' technology, initially touted as an AI-powered checkout system, was actually reliant on human reviewers in India.

Just Walk Out aimed to allow customers to bypass traditional checkouts by using cameras and sensors to track their purchases, and leave without checking out as they would get receipts afterwards. The system was supposed to save retailers money through 'operational efficencies'. 

However, the company was found to be quietly using approximately 1,000 'Machine learning data associates' in India to monitor customer transactions and label video footage to train the system’s machine learning model, resulting in accusations of opacity, hype, and hypocrisy. It was also accused of undercutting US workers.

In April 2024, Amazon announced that 'Just Walk Out' was proving overly time-consuming, would be discontinued at Amazon Fresh Stories and replaced with 'Dash Carts' and traditional self-checkout counters.

Just Walk Out had reputedly missed Amazon's internal targets of reaching less than 50 reviews per 1,000 sales.

Operator: Amazon Fresh
Developer: Amazon
Country: USA
Sector: Retail
Purpose: Automate check-out process
Technology: Computer vision; Deep learning; Machine learning; Object recognition
Issue: Employment
Transparency: Marketing