Amazon has a stated mission of selling everything under the sun. Jeff Bezos' vision of the future extends to the whole globe and beyond, if you consider his Blue Origin venture into the private space program race.
Amazon's most extravagant visions have a way of coming to life. Drone delivery once sounded far-fetched. Now it's happening. This suggests that it pays to examine how Bezos sees the future.
Here are some of the ways in which of Amazon's futuristic visions may play a larger role in your life.
Forging a world of infinite computing power
When asked about his vision for the future, Bezos referenced Star Trek in comparison to what he sees Alexa becoming: a ubiquitous computer that has unlimited resources constantly available to serve your every need. Add to that unlimited storage capacity with no bandwidth limitations and you have the future as Bezos' sees it, one free of server constraints and filled with infrastructure.
Today, you can ask Alexa to give you a weather report, give you the name of that actor in an episode of your favorite show, or play Elton John right now because really who doesn't like Elton John?
That just scratches the surface of what you can do with Alexa and what Amazon wants her to do in the future. Someday, this AI may be driving you to work while making dinner reservations for you and connecting you via video chat to a baby sitter.
With years of machine-learning and voice data entered every time a person interacts, Alexa now recognizes different accents and has some limited predictive capabilities when faced with an incomplete request. Today, Alexa can take the phrase "order a car" and recognize you want a Lyft based on patterns of behavior.
The goal is to build a service that can do almost anything for you, even before you even know you want it, as well as steal away smartphone users
Leading the trend of crowd-sourcing services
Outsourcing is often a term with negative implications leveled at companies that take their jobs to another country to enjoy friendlier labor laws and cheaper labor forces. But, it means something entirely different for Amazon. They don't see it as a negative term. In fact, they've bet a lot on the concept, launching multiple services that capitalize on it.
Consider Amazon Flex, a delivery service that uses everyday people to deliver products across the nation. They offer $18-$25/hour for the work and let people schedule themselves as contract employees. This Lyft-like model cuts costs and frees Amazon from having to retain too many full time employees.
Another example is Amazon's Mechanical Turk, a service that provides as needed employees to complete Human Intelligence Tasks (HITS).
These HITS let employees choose what tasks they perform, usually ones that AI struggles with, including previewing websites, finding information in images, rating search results, writing reviews, and article translation.
In both examples, the company took outsourcing, a policy many companies work hard to avoid, put a new twist on it, and spun it into two new money-making ventures.
With more and more people seeking alternative work environments and schedules, and more employers looking to cut costs by outsourcing labor, Amazon stands poised as a large influencer in crowd-sourced services in the years to come.
Piggy-backing on disruptive technologies
Recent examples of disruptive tech include the personal computer (PC), Windows, email, smartphones, tablets, social media, and the cloud. These technologies often faced an uphill battle breaking into markets as established companies fought financial losses the new technology promised to cause.
Amazon embraces this kind of disruption rather than resists it. The company built itself on the backs of previous disrupters like PCs, Graphic User Interface (GUI)s, and the Internet. By creating a digital storefront, they cut costs of maintaining physical stores and helped launch an entirely new industry in online retail.
Netflix paved the way for digital delivery of media that wiped out companies like Blockbuster. Amazon, keen to capitalize too, churned out Amazon Prime Video, combining their retail services with extensive resources to further disrupt the market Netflix created.
Amazon will be on the lookout to do more of this. See Alexa, a response to Apple's Siri, for an example of this going forward.
Amazon also purchased Whole Foods, not only disrupting supermarkets, but also creating a place for Amazon Lockers, where people can pick up whatever they've ordered online.
3D printers present another unique route for Amazon, wherein the company will offer customers the chance to design their own products and have them delivered instantly.
If the past is any indication, you can be sure that in the years ahead, Amazon will piggy-back onto new technologies and look to establish dominance in those fields, changing the way we all live our lives.