Amazon is 25 years old. What will the companys next chapter look like?


this marketplace podcast is brought to you by smart water smart water is on a mission dad fresh thinking to the world that's why they created two new ways to hydrate smart water alkaline with nine plus ph helps keep you hydrated while you're on the move and smart water antioxidant without its selenium helps you find balance fear body and mind and now you could order smart water by saying alexa order smart water yourselves will think yourself smart water that's pretty smart the next twenty five years of amazon yep you guessed it world domination from american public media this is marketplace tech demystifying the digital economy i'm ali would amazon turns twenty five this week and if you look back at nineteen ninety four eddie tiny online retailer that just sold books most people would not have thought it would turn into a company that touches how we shop how we compute watch tv and movies and actually still yes how we reads books and it made us wonder if someone could predict what the next twenty five years of amazon might look like such as a futurist friend of the show amy webb is the founder of the future future today institute she says amazon's ambitions are everywhere providing cloud services ws government by a metric scanning hey i healthcare space and all the little alexa gadgets that are keeping tabs on you in the house once the boxes and the things we've ordered arrived at at are homes the data pipeline get shut off if you're suddenly now talking all of the different devices in your home speakers microwaves refrigerators medicine cabinets that data pipeline gets turned back on that's important because it opens up new possibilities for data collection all kinds of additional biometric data like what's their emotional state has the cadence of their voice changed are they manic are they depressed i mean we're talking about significant ecosystem which in many ways is making her lived easier but the ways in which that's happening is is pretty invisible to us well now part of your job than in other potential roadblock this to imagine different scenarios for how the future could go in this most recent digital trend report several of those scenarios hinge on regulation water the dangerous for amazon there you know this is not nineteen eighty four so i don't think it's analogous to eighteen t a an eighteen t getting broken up into baby bells in the eighties were we you know at that point we were talking about powerful but relatively singular kind of technology today were talking about technology is the onsite silos technologies that in fact power these other pieces and parts of ecosystem so if you were to try to come in and break up amazon because you feel like amazon has an outsized influence 'em i'm not entirely sure how you could even do that an also and we kind of rely on them i mean it's not like the federal government has a pocket cloud like a second clouds sitting around waiting to to get used is their competition absolutely so a huge part of their business is the cloud and microsoft soft is it is enormous competitor in that space a when we're looking at e commerce alibaba could pose a serious threat to amazon be challenge here is that there's no transparency so there's no transparency and a howard data are being scraped scraped unused there's not a lot of understanding around how decisions are being made this is the challenge that amazon faces over the next twenty five years how does the future of government and had his competition get fostered and how does everybody win in an era in which a are democracy in the in the laws that we have don't necessarily play well with the waves are technology has evolved right let's talk about the book for a second the big nine how the tech titans and they're thinking machines could warp humanity there's a lot in their body i of course one of these companies is amazon and i wonder what do we want to keep amazon from warping humanity like when you say warp is that in a bad way oh it's in a bad way and let's you know let's i will just yeah there's no reason to sugar coat it on the scenarios that i that i described in detail are driven by data and there's one in which things turn out pretty well and there are two in which things definitely do not turn out well not just for americans but for everybody living today on here here's what i'll say you know there are nine companies that have an overwhelming amount of power and say over they artificial intelligence ecosystem system threerun china a sixer in the united states and amazon i think of those six at the moment is probably the the most powerful and perhaps even most important or amazon plus google but but were talking about some very big companies the companies themselves i don't think are evil and i don't think that the people within these companies are intentionally trying to put humanity in harm's way i think the problem is that the systems that govern are business and the regulatory frameworks that we have relied on the in the past and the geopolitical situation which is become tenuous i think the problem is that technology development was sort of left to do its own thing offer many many years and we're now starting to see how a as we've rushed to commercialize some of these products and demonetized them that aliens developmental track hasn't necessarily been 'em thought through with you you know humanity in with everyday people 'em at its core focus at the center of all of this so here's what i wonder 'cause your super smart you have just you know and you have pulled together these threads into this predictive into this narrative you've described jeff basis also super smart and a person who's good at connecting dots and building a narrative at what point given the power that you describe is it also amazon's responsibility to connect those dots and predict that you know follow that same narrative and operate the business accordingly you know the point is now it has always been amazon's responsibility it has always been google's responsibility do you see any sign that that's happening whereas business still the first school we're in a situation where we've got a publicly traded companies that have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders and we have ceos who have grand plans for the future money is what they need they don't need activist word takeovers they don't need problems with the markets you know that that will derail some of their plans 'em so so the problem is it's just like it's it's eight systems level issue now that being said did i absolutely do not buy when when i hear you know facebook is one of these companies you know when i hear executive level leaders say we were just focus on a product were just building an axe you know and they are shirking next implications if it's the case that we get to a point where things went ri it's not because it with an accident it's not because nobody saw it coming it's very likely in these cases because somebody made a decision and that prioritized speed over safety also to be fair ambition could be smaller like jeff basis could take amazon private end still accomplish a lot of things but clearly not all of the things that he wants to accomplish on the way to world domination like it seems like there's sort of an inherent tension there could because the god complex is overriding the responsibility to not warp humanity yeah well i'll tell you this i don't i don't know him personally only 'em i do know some or mark zuckerberg i should be very like mark zuckerberg or tim cook or you know you don't hang out and play tennis on the weekends i don't know these people personally 'em and i think you do if you were running an organization at this level so you know i work with a lot of ceos and executive teams all around the world i think if you were playing at their level you have to fit a certain psychological profile 'em i think in order to achieve that kind of success but i think again you know any smart person person who is working on the future knows that it's not just about finding cooling products and services 'em the you know anytime you are connecting those dots and looking down the road to see what the implications look like you are inevitably looking at risk skin opportunity i think the test of great leader and the testimony great american company that will withstand geopolitical change an will become the kind of company the generations from now people look back on with pride those companies and those people are gonna be the ones who modeled risk and opportunity and when when we saw risk we you know it was mitigated in advance not because it wasn't necessarily the best financial

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