Rising Theft is Being Used to Justify AI Surveillance in Stores

If you’re tired of censorship and dystopian threats against civil liberties, subscribe to Reclaim The Net. Apparently, there is nothing those who should be preventing widespread theft in stores in the US can do to do their job – except introduce AI surveillance into the mix. That sounds like a very handy excuse, and will no doubt be convincing enough for those who are not well-versed in the problem of (biometric) surveillance tech. But those who are, are already wondering how the move might reflect on privacy and ethics of it all, and even on “consumer experience.” None of that is not stopping some of the country’s largest supermarket chains to start either considering or using what they call AI, in order to monitor customer behavior, both related to theft (euphemistically referred to as “shoplifting” – albeit on a “massive” scale) and to self-checkout errors. On the latter front, Kroger is reporting success – there have been more than 75% fewer such errors since Everseen Visual AI’s tech has come into play. The company provides the retailer with cameras that “watch” as shoppers scan and bag the products they’re purchasing. In case they are identified as simply taking something instead of actually buying it, the surveillance system is supposed to first alert them, and then the store’s staff. (What the staff are then supposed to do, which they are unable to do without this technology to stop “massive shoplifting” aka, “smash-and-grabs” – is not clear). But, said Kroger’s Senior Manager…Rising Theft is Being Used to Justify AI Surveillance in Stores