Nearly all growth in the retail market now stems from e-commerce, and in 2016 Amazon accounted for 53 percent of all growth in US e-commerce sales for the year, placing immense pressure upon Walmart to elevate its standing in the online marketplace. This prompted Walmart’s decision last August to purchase the e-commerce web site for $ billion. As part of the acquisition, founder and CEO Marc Lore was promoted to president and CEO of Walmart e-commerce and given a total compensation package of $ million, making him one of the country’s highest-paid executives.
Consider racism first. There is a long and troubling history of discrimination against minorities. Extant employment discrimination laws already ban bias, and can result in hefty penalties. So, many advocates of algorithmic decision-making say, why worry about our new technology? Discrimination in any form – personal, technological, what have you – is already banned. This is naïve at best. Algorithmic decision-making processes collect personal and social data from a society with a discrimination problem. Society abounds with data that are often simple proxies for discrimination – zip or postal codes, for example.