16 August, 2018 - 19:09 By Tony Quested

Swallow the Amazon bile and acknowledge the debt the UK owes

First the tax then its voice recognition software. Amazon has been something of an Aunt Sally for sections of the British national media in the last couple of weeks.

Paying too little tax, say some. Forcing people to change their accents because Alexa does not detect local inflections, says one leading daily newspaper.

What a waste of coconuts! Amazon has become a mainstay of the UK economy in the last eight years and its highly advanced technology continues to be honed as a work in progress – like the tech of any other player at the bleeding edge of advances.

Amazon will create 250,000 jobs in the UK this year alone, many of them at its burgeoning Cambridge operations focusing on drone development and technological advances.

Unlike some ‘hit and run with the IP’ US investors in Britain over the years, Amazon has already invested £9.3 billion in the UK since 2010.

That investment translates into many more hundreds of millions in terms of the spending power it has handed and will continue to give to UK employees. Money that is spent on housing and business premises along with associated rents, council tax payments and other expenses like home improvements. Money spent on transport – private cars, fuel, servicing and more – or public transport.

Money spent on food and clothing, childcare, education, holidays, animal welfare, charitable contributions and much, much more. People have to earn it to burn it and this week’s record low UK unemployment rate shows the debt owed to companies like Amazon.

Or perhaps we would rather they took their wealth elsewhere – France or Germany have their arms wide open – and, along with it, the time and money invested in the Amazon academies and skills programmes that are schooling future generations of coders without whom the hi-tech dividend will be lost to the UK.

To waste such patronage would be to the massive detriment of the Treasury – and to thousands of young people and their families denied a ladder to climb free of a botched Brexit.

As for voice recognition technology, anyone know what is a common or average accent in the UK these days? It would take some technology to equalise accents as diverse as Scouse, Brum, Geordie or Cockney without mixing in ethnic vagaries.

They’re working on it – and as a badly governed country we should be grateful that this is all we have to worry about. Except it isn’t of course: Brexit could drive a good many big employers out of Britain. Let’s hope Amazon isn’t among the exodus.

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