Finally, a Grocery Cart That Can Prevent an Ad-Free Moment of Existence

Alex Bitter, Business Insider:

Instacart will test ads on its Caper smart shopping carts at Bristol Farms grocery stores in Southern California, it said on Monday. These carts, designed by an AI startup Instacart acquired in 2021, have been tested in Kroger, Schnucks, Geissler’s, and Wakefern. The new ads will appear on a screen just above the handle on the carts, and the ads will even be personalized based on an individual shopper’s choices.

It is not as though most supermarkets are a pleasant ad-free existence today. In addition to the visual noise of shelves of product packaging, many chains yell ads at you over the in-store announcement system, and permit shelf-level marketing signage.

Albert Burneko, Defector:

This is one of those new technologies that’s useful primarily as a viewfinder on a dismal present and a future determined to be even more miserable. Nobody anywhere will like the smart carts. Nobody, anywhere, will find them not-obnoxious. Everybody who does more than a couple of moments of thinking about it will be horrified by the idea of humanity digging gigantic devastating holes in the ailing planet and mining out its contents for the purpose of putting tablet computers onto grocery carts so that they can perform a service repulsive to literally everyone. Nobody — nobody nobody nobody! — wants to live in a society characterized by inescapable omnipresent advertising for consumer products; no one yet born has yearned to have video advertisements take up ever more of their field of vision.

These “A.I.-powered smart shopping carts” — as they are nauseatingly described on Caper’s website — are pitched as a way to both generate revenue through advertising and reduce employment costs. It is the product of a bleak imagination. To be fair, it is unlikely I will be seeing these in my local grocery stores; the places I shop are nowhere near as fancy as Bristol Farms. But, still, nobody wants this.