Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Amazon's Proposed 30 Minute Delivery From Airborne Warehouse

The ADN had an article touting Amazon's patent application for a floating warehouse that could reduce delivery to 30 minutes or less.

I can imagine that there are some items that one must have in 30 minutes.  I'm not talking about an onion you forgot to buy with dinner guests due in an hour.  There could be some life-saving items that are occasionally needed quickly.

But, generally, what's the point?

I remember when my son got impatient waiting for something to appear online in 20 seconds because he was used to a faster connection.  But this instantaneous gratification comes at a cost.  Actually, a lot of different costs.

1.  Opportunity costs of creativity and money spent on this rather than on  projects that make a greater contribution to humanity's well being.

2.  Continued reduction of people's long term thinking and planning skills as businesses work compete over speed of gratification.

3.  Loss of patience as a human quality, and thus, the devaluing of things that take time to grow - trees, babies, friendship, love - and inability to deal with any delays.  It seems we already have enough road rage.

4.  Loss of attention span, necessary to evaluate ideas, test theories, make good decisions.

5.  And whose airspace will these warehouses be in?  Whose sunlight will they block?  Where will their pollution pollute?  Will they be silent or add to the noise we all suffer daily?

The article talks about using such flying warehouses at events where lots of people gather - such as a baseball game.
"Imagine you're at a baseball game and wanted to buy a meal or a jersey without ever leaving your seat. The system Amazon describes would allow you to place an order and receive the item within minutes."
Well, I'm imagining 30 drones zooming down to three rows trying to figure out which person to deliver the hot dog to and how to avoid crashing into the other 29 drones.  I'm imagining people snatching someone else's lunch, that was paid for already electronically when the order was placed.  I'm imagining drones picking up bottles of urine for a fee so the patron doesn't have to leave his seat.

Doesn't this all sound a little like the people in Wall-E?

But maybe virtual reality will make going to the stadium totally unnecessary.

But I take hope from other trends.  Here's another Alaska Dispatch News article that goes in the opposite direction:

"Folk schools offer lessons for battling ‘convenience culture’"

"Raising urban chickens, making a leather belt or building a traditional kayak aren't among the offerings you'll usually find at mainstream educational institutions. But they are skills you can learn at two of Alaska's newest schools. 
They're known as folk schools, and they focus on teaching and sharing traditional, hands-on knowledge and homesteading skills typically nonexistent in the educational system."

And the Los Angeles Times had an article about the growth of the vinyl record business.

But it shouldn't be an either/or, thus versus them issue here.  There are some great benefits from new technology.  We just need to consider the environmental, cultural, and human costs of the technology against the benefits.  People can argue that if consumers don't buy, businesses won't make the products.  But since business spends so much money tapping into people's primal brains to get them to 'need' every new product, I think that's a specious argument.  But it is true, if people don't buy, those things will no longer be on the market.

But I think that humans should always be ready for the day, or the year, when the power goes out, the satellites fail, and that infrastructure that supports the life so many are totally dependent on crashes.  Humans need to be able take care of themselves when all the conveniences collapse.


  1. This is a good series;


  2. thanks, that looks interesting, and is definitely related to the post. Here's a link to a longer review. I doubt he used Muslim terrorists as the start of his disaster because he lacked imagination. Was it because it appealed to more readers?

    1. He fantastic writer with a eye for detail, society and politics, but also of ecosystems and human nature. It’s a nice change from the SHTF prepper novels that have a Rambo leader with a bunker and a 10 year supply for food. It interesting to see what people who worked with their minds now do with their hands. The 4th book came out this summer. I ordered a copy of the ‘Three Body Problem’ and look forward to reading it.

  3. Steve, You're arguing for wisdom. Thank you.


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