2030 - Speculations About The Future (Tomorrow?) | Final Part
Updated: Feb 8, 2021
This is a short fictional article which concludes the four-part series called "2030 - Speculations About The Future (Tomorrow?)". The purpose of the series has been to propose scenarios that might materialise during the present decade and beyond. All projections were based on developments taking place within the present context. Some of these developments might slow down and come to a complete halt. Others might accelerate and eventually become permanent. The scenario below is very unlikely to happen. In fact, it looks impossible. If Amazon is to disappear, it will probably happen in a more conventional way, such the company being taken apart due to anti-monopolistic considerations, but discussions about 3D-printing led me to imagine this short story. I can only work with what I have in terms of assumptions. Thank you for having taken the time to read this four-part series
Business Section of The Times Of Tomorrow | 12th of December 2028
The Fall Of Amazon
On the 10th of December 2028, three weeks after its final profit warning, Amazon filed for bankruptcy. The company founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 and which was once part of the famous Big Five along with Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook, made the announcement right before its share price dropped to an all-time low on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading on Amazon shares was quickly suspended and all hope for recovery has been wiped out. The mighty Amazon which ruled the world for twenty years is dead.
How did this happen? Back in 2021 when Jeff Bezos stepped down from the role of CEO to become Executive Chair of the Amazon Board, it was widely expected that the golden age that the company was going through would last for a very long time. After all, the Covid-19 pandemic had transformed Amazon into a critical survival tool for Western citizens. Lockdowns and heavy restraints on mobility meant that ordering online was no longer an option: it became as essential as water and electricity within households. Besides, Amazon's mastery of logistics was becoming sharper and sharper. It had successfully integrated drones within its delivery system and had made spectacular inroads within new fields ranging from over the counter drugs, that were once only available in pharmacies, to virtual reality services. How is it possible that this behemoth crashed and burned so quickly?
Everything started in February 2021 when an underground internet community that calls itself "The GAFA Slayers" joined forces in the most unlikely manner. The members of this community were inspired by the Gamestop Reddit Army where retail investors shook multi-billion hedge funds to their core by attacking them on their own battleground. The GAFA slayers reasoned that they could apply the same logic to challenge Amazon. There was one key difference though: they would do so by exploiting a major development that Amazon had completely failed to anticipate. This development was the arrival of 3D-Six, the AI-powered software that took three-dimensional printing to a completely different level and which granted the masses cheap access to what was once an elusive technology. The origins of 3D-Six are hard to pinpoint but this much has been confirmed: it is an opensource software that spread like wildfire over the internet and is believed to have been modified at least five million times by coders all over the world. The GAFA Slayers acted on the basis of three simple, but extremely powerful, assumptions:
Highly environmentally conscious young people no longer wanted to order online. They viewed this as incredibly wasteful and wanted technology and means that would enable them to produce every non-essential good at a reasonable cost. The Covid-19 pandemic created an "Indoor Generation" that viewed dependence on big corporations as extremely unhealthy.
Sorting out the hardware that could maximise the power of 3D-Six would effectively create a situation where it would no longer be necessary for consumers to depend on Amazon with regard to more than half of the goods that were marketed on its website.
Last but not least: minimalism had replaced consumerism as the dominant mindset in Western countries. It was all about doing more with less and happiness was no longer seen as a function of the amount of goods and services consumed.
And so in November 2021, the GAFA Slayers secured enough funding to launch the first prototype of Hephaestus, a compact hardware that could, through its link to 3D-Six, print high-quality parts of everyday objects that ranged from furniture to electrical appliances. It was the start of a revolution: one where the masses would own their production lines. The name Hephaestus was chosen in reference to the Greek God who served as the blacksmith of the gods and was worshipped in the manufacturing and industrial centres of Greece, particularly Athens (source: Wikipedia article on Hephaestus). The rise Hephaestus was slow at first but it quickly caught fire as word spread across the world when videos of the hardware were purposefully leaked. Several major companies involved in three-dimensional printing took notice and offered to improve the initial prototype as well as take care of its distribution. Amazon shrugged off this danger and dismissed it as the "wishful thinking of a bunch of nerds that believe they are the next Luke Skywalker."
There is no more wishful thinking now. The nerds have won and Amazon is dead.
My latest novel, Market Dystopia, is available on the following links:
Intro video here