Saturday, January 7, 2017

Crow delivers

My friend Crow,  off on his annual winter visit to his distant relatives the condors, sent me some thoughts about modernity to share with you:

It would appear new technologies are generally being sold as essential ones in the coming of either a future leisure-oriented paradise or your inevitable domination under the control of AI Algorhithmic overlords. Take your pick.

One of the more recent developments has been Amazon's patent for “An unmanned aerial vehicle delivery process that utilizes an airborne fulfillment center” (AFC). Their patent goes on to describe "an airship, or dirigible, is a type of aerostat or lighter-than-air aircraft which can navigate through the air under its own power. ... An AFC may be positioned at an altitude above a metropolitan area and be designed to maintain an inventory of items that may be purchased by a user and delivered to the user by a UAV (drone) that is deployed from the AFC.” We won't go into how they plan to stock the thing (people wearing jet packs, perhaps), but I'll tell you right now we birds aren't for it at all.

This is the kind of idea that, if described to you by your precocious nine year old nephew, you'd be likely to chuckle about later and forget. I remember susan's father on ambitious yet ill considered plans remarking, 'One day that man will be doing great things.. like washing elephants'. Instead, because it's Jeff Bezos' monstrously huge and wealthy Amazon corporation, the news media is taking the idea perfectly seriously (and anything they take seriously, you must too).

What none of them seem to consider is the chaos that would be unleashed should this delivery method actually go into effect. Imagine trying to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature on a bright summer afternoon while hundreds of delivery drones swoop down from the sky carrying Amazon's quite literal version of 'instant gratification' to customers who just can't wait for a delivery through normal channels. The ability to have warehouses floating around in the sky also has them considering the idea of delivering “perishable items or even prepared meals.” In other words, Amazon is positioning itself to be in direct competition with Domino’s Pizza. I can almost see the hunters poised with their shotguns or bows and arrows looking to bring home the pepperoni and meatball extra large.

Amazon describes your soon-to-be-old fashioned system of retail delivery in the following way: Using a “human controlled truck, bicycle, cart, etc.” which delivers items from a “ground-based building,” and continues with “a human who hands the item to a recipient, places it on the user’s porch, or stores it in a post office box, etc.” I wonder if the drones will ask after your health or remark about the weather as real people do.

Now I'm reminded of yet another grand plan devised by the technological overlords, the widely reported, soon to be instituted, advent of fully automated driverless trucking. Considering the fact that truck driver is the number one occupation in North America I see more problems ahead. But I'll leave that topic for another time.

Meanwhile, the weather is lovely here in the Andes and you'll be pleased to hear the Remy and fruitcake you sent by dogsled arrived safely. The dogs are currently napping at the fireside while the condors are waiting in the wings for our afternoon flight.

Until next time, dear friends and susan, stay warm and keep smiling. The world may be a silly place,
but we are well so long as humour and affection remain.


marja-leena said...

Good grief! I do like and nod with approval Crow's last words: The world may be a silly place,
but we are well so long as humour and affection remain.

You are doing much of that with your posts, dear Susan! Have a creative and happy New Year!

Tom said...

It causes me concern that whatever can be done, will [at some time] be done. Humanity seems to be led around by the nose having lost the ability to choose and say, "No!"

Andrew R. Scott said...

There will be drone wars in our skies with people controlling their own drones to intercept those with interesting looking parcels and bring them to the ground, plus the new game for naughty kids of bringing the drones down with catapults and air pistols and nets, whatever; plus the birds of prey attacking the drones, as has already happened, and Crow and his pals sipping Remy and eating fruitcake from the packages as they fly. I am quite looking forward to the entertainment.

susan said...

Many thanks, Marja-Leena. Your friendship helps make the difference.

susan said...

I know just what you mean, Tom, yet at the same time I can't help but believe we may be learning the limits of technology by witnessing the downsides.

susan said...

Yes, Andrew, the problem nowadays (as in days of old) is that income differentials between rich and poor (never mind sheer population percentages) means such means will likely be used. Who needs television if you have a decent vantage point?

Ol'Buzzard said...

Ok, 'Amazon delivers by drone; but how do you return? Crow will have to be careful for the sky will be crouded
the Ol'Buzzard

Sean Jeating said...

What a painting!
There do certainly live many dead parrots in Silicon Valley; they just don't know, yet.

susan said...

Sorry, OB, company policy dictates returns are only accepted by way of the personal drones of good customers, deliverable by Amazon. You do have Prime, don't you?

susan said...

Hah! This one is more irritated sketch than painting, Sean.

I'm sure Crow has a few more examples of dead parrots for us. :)

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
I am reliably informed by wise Crow a further hazard is one of not only falling drones with hailstones during stormy weather but of cellular mutation where drones become aggressive and attack once the outside temperature rises to record levels, as occurs down under. “The Purple People Eater!” from out of the sky, was maybe not about wanting to join a rock band but lyrics about future drones, whose gregarious programming reverts to aggressive strike attacks once the heat is turned up. This also happens when you start messing with their nose cone or tinker with their preprogrammed free speech. Or argue about the price.

Great picture as usual but could you ask Crow to send across a few of his Melpers ( Me helpers) to help seed a few clouds as we want to all stay cool this time of the year. And it would keep all the drones cool. Best wishes

susan said...

I'm glad Crow mentioned to you adverse weather events that likely would play even more havoc with these diabolical machines, Lindsay. We've already had far too many examples of the horrendous destruction caused by drones in hot climates. Perhaps we ought to warn those who come up with these devices of the inherent danger..

I'm sure a number of us suffering through the cold and blizzards of our northern winter would be more than happy to share. I'll ask Crow if he knows of a method to help you and to cool the drones.

Best wishes

Jono said...

That's all we need. To look in the sky and see clouds and birds obscured by Amazon drones. How far will I have to go to not see them?

susan said...

Probably not very far, Jono. I have a feeling this is one of those plans that works out better on a chart than it will in the real world.