An uncomfortable number of people have made peace with the fact that tapped phones and arbitrary observation are just the price we have to pay to fight terrorism. But being spied on by our chocolate chip cookies? Where’s the line, government?
Hyperbole aside, this is actually happening. Mondelez International, the company behind brands like Chips Ahoy and Ritz, plans “to debut a grocery shelf in 2015 that comes equipped with sensors to determine the age and sex of passing customers,” according to The Washington Post.
Ha ha, what? Yes, this is happening, but according to Mondelez, the company is just trying to make sure you take home the chocolate chip cookies that are best for you. The plan will help people who aren’t sure they want to buy a package of cookies get that little extra “oomph” to put some in their cart.
The Mother Nature Network did a good job of putting it into layman’s. Per MNN:
Here’s how it may work: You’re in the cookie aisle. You pick up a box of cookies. A tiny camera, probably hidden, will scan your facial features for your age and sex. A computer will quickly determine if you’re a good target. The spying camera realizes you’ve been standing there for a minute. A sensor on the shelving picks up a change in weight. You obviously have cookies in hand but haven’t put them in your cart yet. Oh no! You need help making a choice! A screen may start playing a commercial for the cookies or a coupon machine may spit a little money saving incentive to help you out.
Scary, right? Right, but that doesn’t mean you need to stand for it. Knowing enough about this program will help you make informed decisions, like, deciding that you don’t want to be manipulated into buying anything any more than you already are.
If you start seeing this pop up in supermarkets, let the stores know if it makes you uncomfortable. Historically, consumers have had enormous power to effect change in the market. For instance, many grocery store chains now refuse to carry genetically engineered salmon if it requires FDA approval. That’s because of you.
Additionally, Starbucks agreed to take carmine (a natural food dye literally made from bugs) out of its products after consumers cried foul.
So, the moral of the story is, if you don’t want chocolate chip cookies to spy on you, complain. It’s the American Way.