Amazon launches B2B marketplace in India
E-commerce giant Amazon has launched a new B2B marketplace in India.
The launch was announced on Wednesday, and within 18 hours Amazon Business had 100mn products for sale from a total of 15,000 sellers.
The company is targeting SMEs in India through the platform which it has piloted in Bengaluru and Mangaluru.
Sectors targeted by Amazon Business include technology, services and manufacturing, as well as schools, universities and offices.
Vice President of Amazon India, Manish Tiwary, has stated the pilot was a successful learning experience.
“Now we have started the wholesale across the country and plan to scale it up. We are extending the same benefits for business buyers much like in our consumer focused platform.”
He added, “There is a potential of cross-selling and purchasing among other merchants who are selling on our business to consumer (B2C) platform.”
Tiwary stated the B2B industry is currently fragmented, and small-to-medium businesses have huge potential and importance in overall output for India.
The company had received many requests over the past four years from customers and sellers like who wanted to buy in bulk with the correct paperwork. The new service will allow any business with a GST (Goods and Services Tax) number to register and all products sold come with a GST compliant invoice, allowing buyers to easily claim tax credit.
Amazon Business also plans to offer value added services such as analytics. The platform was launched in 2015 in the US.
Amazon’s Asian rival Alibaba announced plans to build its wholesale business in India recently, and continued to build partnerships in logistics, banks and NBFCs.
Chinese Firm Taigusys Launches Emotion-Recognition System
In a detailed investigative report, the Guardian reported that Chinese tech company Taigusys can now monitor facial expressions. The company claims that it can track fake smiles, chart genuine emotions, and help police curtail security threats. ‘Ordinary people here in China aren’t happy about this technology, but they have no choice. If the police say there have to be cameras in a community, people will just have to live with it’, said Chen Wei, company founder and chairman. ‘There’s always that demand, and we’re here to fulfil it’.
Who Will Use the Data?
As of right now, the emotion-recognition market is supposed to be worth US$36bn by 2023—which hints at rapid global adoption. Taigusys counts Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, and PetroChina among its 36 clients, but none of them has yet revealed if they’ve purchased the new AI. In addition, Taigusys will likely implement the technology in Chinese prisons, schools, and nursing homes.
It’s not likely that emotion-recognition AI will stay within the realm of private enterprise. President Xi Jinping has promoted ‘positive energy’ among citizens and intimated that negative expressions are no good for a healthy society. If the Chinese central government continues to gain control over private companies’ tech data, national officials could use emotional data for ideological purposes—and target ‘unhappy’ or ‘suspicious’ citizens.
How Does It Work?
Taigusys’s AI will track facial muscle movements, body motions, and other biometric data to infer how a person is feeling, collecting massive amounts of personal data for machine learning purposes. If an individual displays too much negative emotion, the platform can recommend him or her for what’s termed ‘emotional support’—and what may end up being much worse.
Can We Really Detect Human Emotions?
This is still up for debate, but many critics say no. Psychologists still debate whether human emotions can be separated into basic emotions such as fear, joy, and surprise across cultures or whether something more complex is at stake. Many claim that AI emotion-reading technology is not only unethical but inaccurate since facial expressions don’t necessarily indicate someone’s true emotional state.
In addition, Taigusys’s facial tracking system could promote racial bias. One of the company’s systems classes faces as ‘yellow, white, or black’; another distinguishes between Uyghur and Han Chinese; and sometimes, the technology picks up certain ethnic features better than others.
Is China the Only One?
Not a chance. Other countries have also tried to decode and use emotions. In 2007, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a heavily contested training programme (SPOT) that taught airport personnel to monitor passengers for signs of stress, deception, and fear. But China as a nation rarely discusses bias, and as a result, its AI-based discrimination could be more dangerous.
‘That Chinese conceptions of race are going to be built into technology and exported to other parts of the world is troubling, particularly since there isn’t the kind of critical discourse [about racism and ethnicity in China] that we’re having in the United States’, said Shazeda Ahmed, an AI researcher at New York University (NYU).
Taigusys’s founder points out, on the other hand, that its system can help prevent tragic violence, citing a 2020 stabbing of 41 people in Guangxi Province. Yet top academics remain unconvinced. As Sandra Wachter, associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said: ‘[If this continues], we will see a clash with fundamental human rights, such as free expression and the right to privacy’.