[ExI] will work for food

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Wed Apr 14 17:41:24 UTC 2010

--- On Wed, 4/14/10, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> Idea: if all the products have 
> RFID tags, the checkout process is greatly simplified, for the device would 
> automatically charge the proles for everything in the cart and everything they 
> have stuffed into their underclothing, assuming they wore any.

That's been tried.  Visualized, even:
(Upload to YouTube last year, but I think the commercial dates from
the '90s.)  Problems:

1. Shoplifters can and will wear clothes that foil RFID.  Foil is, in
fact, sometimes the means to this end.  Or they can swap tags for
expensive items w/ones for cheap items, which both lets them pay less
and messes up inventory.

2. Getting legit shoppers set up, so the RFID that says "this customer
is legit and here's the account number to charge" always scans and
doesn't set off security alarms.  If you've got a 1% false negative on
this, that's still way too high for many people.

> (Our 
> local Fry's Electronics has 60 cash registers.  Sixty!)

Most of the time when I go there, almost none of them are in use.
I think that's just to handle peak load, like Christmas shopping.
> the 
> shopping cart knows where to go, so the employee need not worry herself with 
> reading, thinking, knowing where anything is located.

Why use an employee?  Why not track-mounted robots (possibly ceiling
tracks, to be out of the way of customers)?  With the degree of
automation you propose, adding in servos and a track would not be
that much more expensive, and reduces employee errors.  (We can track
the errors we anticipate, but idiots - and you are suggesting the less
than fully mentally capable as employees - will always find new ways
to mess up.)

> The RFIDs on 
> everything could be used to tell the customers where to find the object they 
> need, without having to ask the stoned employees.

Assuming you know what to ask for.  A human might know that "burrito
wrappers" means "tortillas", but a computer won't know that unless
someone (probably some human) tells it specifically, and so on for
all other variations on food terms.  Not a problem for you and me
who are used to coming up with alternate search terms (all hail
Google), but this might be a problem for many people.

> It has a lot of "stick 
> it to the man" in it, since the Searses and Macyes would be crushed in the 
> stampede right past their businesses. 

Unfortunately, whoever's running the supply chain for this new
store becomes "the man" by definition.

> The democrats could set up a table 
> out front to register voters in stunning hordes.

Which would prevent it from operating in Republican-owned areas.
Traditionally, big box stores have been able to work much better
in rural (and thus more likely Republican) areas than urban (and
thus more likely Democratic), because of the economics of large
pieces of land (to store many products, to have a sizable parking
lot, et cetera).

> The libertarians would 
> like it because there are so few rules.

Now here's an idea: get the Libertarian Party to sponsor wide-scale
voter registration drives.  Boost their numbers, by giving people a
cheap way to express discontent with both parties.

...or would they not have the resources to advertise themselves,
even for cheap?

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