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ThePhantasm
2013-12-02, 01:13 AM
About time! Now bring on the flying cars, I say!

http://www.amazon.com/b?ref_=tsm_1_tw_s_amzn_mx3eqp&node=8037720011

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazon-unveils-futuristic-plan-delivery-by-drone/

(P.S. apparently this is totally real, even though I'm still pinching myself)

Haruki-kun
2013-12-02, 01:18 AM
That... is seriously awesome. I can't wait to use it.

.....but how does it work when delivering something from the other side of the country? I assume I don't get a 30 minutes or less guarantee....?

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 02:05 AM
Given the range on those things, how is this significantly better than having it delivered by a van from a local outlet?
It's cool, but the fact we can intravenously inject oxygen strikes me as even cooler. Unless you got a major traffic congestion problem in the area, how is this supposed to be practical?

ThePhantasm
2013-12-02, 02:23 AM
Easy to answer that: the van takes 1-2 days free on Prime. Vans have to stop, make other deliveries, etc. And the package has to be sent to the carrier, then picked up and delivered. This would literally fly straight from the warehouse to your doorstep. Mind-boggling.

Where does it say they are low-range? Aside from the fact that they don't look like they could fly that far...

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 02:34 AM
Easy to answer that: the van takes 1-2 days free on Prime. Vans have to stop, make other deliveries, etc. And the package has to be sent to the carrier, then picked up and delivered. This would literally fly straight from the warehouse to your doorstep. Mind-boggling.

Or they could send, say, a motorcycle from the same warehouse.


Where does it say they are low-range? Aside from the fact that they don't look like they could fly that far...

Their size tells me they are short range. Batteries have gotten quite good, but that good, especially since it has a payload? Can't be that far. They aren't that fast either. I actually would like to see some information on range and speed.

Spiryt
2013-12-02, 02:51 AM
Well, now we will just have to wait till they fly everywhere, delivering hallucinogens and cyanide, depending on the needs. :smalltongue: :smallwink:

Lord Raziere
2013-12-02, 02:59 AM
Hm. There will be Problems. I can tell you this now.

Whatever guidance system they will be using will have some bug, or the drones themselves will have some flaw...technology is a precise thing that needs everything to work correctly for it to carry out its function properly. I like this potential for this kind of delivery, I like all my technologies, but I do know that there will inevitably be some technical problem or other that will rear its ugly head, especially if its new. I don't want my package delivery ending up in the wrong place or being dropped and getting damaged, y'know?

ThePhantasm
2013-12-02, 03:02 AM
Or they could send, say, a motorcycle from the same warehouse.

That requires a) more manpower and b) gasoline and c) still no 30 minute guarantee (because of unpredictable road conditions).


Their size tells me they are short range. Batteries have gotten quite good, but that good, especially since it has a payload? Can't be that far. They aren't that fast either. I actually would like to see some information on range and speed.

I'm sure there's a payload weight limit, and I'm sure takeoff and landing are slower than actual flight. I don't know why they'd be promising 30 minute delivery unless they were pretty confident the little things could handle it. You won't be able to deliver heavy stuff this way, but a book or movie or something? Sure.

But yeah, I agree, I'd like to see some range / speed specs.

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 03:20 AM
That requires a) more manpower and b) gasoline and c) still no 30 minute guarantee (because of unpredictable road conditions).
Flight conditions can vary too.
Something as small as this? Don't take much of a wind to blow it around like a leaf in the wind. Not sure how it requires more manpower though. This is almost certainly an RC drone. It's not some advanced AI, it's some guy watching a computer screen relaying video and telemetry with a joystick.


I'm sure there's a payload weight limit, and I'm sure takeoff and landing are slower than actual flight. I don't know why they'd be promising 30 minute delivery unless they were pretty confident the little things could handle it. You won't be able to deliver heavy stuff this way, but a book or movie or something? Sure.

But yeah, I agree, I'd like to see some range / speed specs.
Here's hoping some come to light soon.

ThePhantasm
2013-12-02, 03:38 AM
Well, the sorting and carrying bots inside the Amazon warehouses are not remote controlled (see the videos on youtube). I'm not sure if these octocopters are RC'ed or not, but I'm sure the eventual aim is to have them programmed to land at GPS coordinates based on the address (easy to get from Google Maps).

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 03:44 AM
Well, the sorting and carrying bots inside the Amazon warehouses are not remote controlled (see the videos on youtube). I'm not sure if these octocopters are RC'ed or not, but I'm sure the eventual aim is to have them programmed to land at GPS coordinates based on the address (easy to get from Google Maps).
The former is a far, far easier task for robotics than the latter. GPS coordinates is but only the start. There is some AI likely in the stabilization systems so it's easier to fly, but not even US military drones are truly AI controlled.

Rodin
2013-12-02, 03:49 AM
Time to go skeet shooting for Christmas presents!

ThePhantasm
2013-12-02, 03:56 AM
The former is a far, far easier task for robotics than the latter. GPS coordinates is but only the start. There is some AI likely in the stabilization systems so it's easier to fly, but not even US military drones are truly AI controlled.

Um... there are UAVs are are autonomously controlled by computers. The remote controlled ones are being increasingly replaced by these.

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 04:14 AM
Um... there are UAVs are are autonomously controlled by computers. The remote controlled ones are being increasingly replaced by these.
Really? This article (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/military-drone-with-no-human-control/) makes it sound like this is still an 'in development' project.

Newwby
2013-12-02, 04:34 AM
Really? This article (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/military-drone-with-no-human-control/) makes it sound like this is still an 'in development' project.

Nope I've worked with them (autonomous give them a destination in the program and off they go), they're here and they work. I saw significant work done on a masters project where a drone was given a photograph of an area and went looking for it. You can even build them yourself if you've got the means and the time as a friend of mine did.

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 04:41 AM
Nope I've worked with them (autonomous give them a destination in the program and off they go), they're here and they work. I saw significant work done on a masters project where a drone was given a photograph of an area and went looking for it. You can even build them yourself if you've got the means and the time as a friend of mine did.
I bow to your greater expertise then.

ThePhantasm
2013-12-02, 04:47 AM
I wonder what they will call this new tech? Just imagine... a flight delivery network. A "Skynet." Sounds catchy. :smalltongue:

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 04:47 AM
I wonder what they will call this new tech? Just imagine... a flight delivery network. A "Skynet." Sounds catchy. :smalltongue:
Oh, Skynet has been around for a while (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skynet_%28satellite%29).:smallamused:

Tengu_temp
2013-12-02, 05:38 AM
This is pretty great. I expect that actually implementing this system will be tricky, but if they manage to make it work, I'll be impressed. I won't be impressed if it will only function in the US, however.

Calen
2013-12-02, 05:53 AM
One problem we still have with GPS is that it will take you to "almost" the right place. Another is how are these things going to figure out what part of a house to deliver an item at? If it is just flat areas then some covered pools and some roofs would qualify. What if it drops it in a puddle? Or puts it just over the neighbors fence? Or where the dog can get it?

Elder Tsofu
2013-12-02, 05:59 AM
How does it deliver into an apartment complex? :smalltongue:
The safest way would probably to have designated and manned drop-off points where you can fetch your package - like the local post office.

SiuiS
2013-12-02, 09:06 AM
I expected either automotatic cars, or flying cars.



Thread, I am disappoint.

Tylorious
2013-12-02, 09:13 AM
Are they going to start paradropping your purchase? That would be awesome!

Mono Vertigo
2013-12-02, 09:31 AM
I expected either automotatic cars, or flying cars.



Thread, I am disappoint.

Then again, the problem with self-driving or flying cars is that there's a 100% chance that, somewhere, a guy named Regis*, who really likes tabloids and terrible ideas, is going to take a good look at the thing, and say he can do a better job...
... of course, the chances this guy are going to get his hands on an Amazon drone are not null either...
What I meant to get at, I suppose, is that we're not going to get nice things, because of morons.



*To all the Regis out there: sorry, that's a paraphrased Clarkson joke, he deserves the blame for this one.



This XKCD (http://xkcd.com/325/) may not be entirely relevant, but now I find myself wondering what happens when you combine the two.

Haruki-kun
2013-12-02, 10:42 AM
I won't be impressed if it will only function in the US, however.

That's usually how it starts. Maybe a few years later it'll work outside. :smallsigh:

Aedilred
2013-12-02, 12:30 PM
The reports I've seen suggest a range of about 10km and a maximum payload of about 2.5kg. Which suggests that they're really only likely to be a viable option in cities. To be honest, while the idea is kind of cool, there are so many inherent problems with the idea I can't see its becoming a serious thing any time soon.

Mauve Shirt
2013-12-02, 01:01 PM
Look at those things, they're like little autonomous RC helicopters. They won't go more than 10km I daresay. This is cute, but not much more than cute.

warty goblin
2013-12-02, 01:04 PM
I cannot begin to imagine any way in which this makes my life any better. It seems a lot of energy to solve a problem that, basically, already solved.

mistformsquirrl
2013-12-02, 01:06 PM
Are they going to start paradropping your purchase? That would be awesome!

Needs the option to pay 25 cents to blast "Ride of the Valkyries" as the UAV flies over your house.

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 01:09 PM
I actually saw a flying car that looked almost practical. One, it was more of a flying dune buggy/off-road vehicle, which strikes me as a brilliant application of a flying car. Where even the ATV half can't go, the flying part can. Two, is used a parasail instead of a folded or detachable wing.

Karoht
2013-12-02, 01:13 PM
I cannot begin to imagine any way in which this makes my life any better. It seems a lot of energy to solve a problem that, basically, already solved.
If I never have to deal with UPS ever again, this technology just solved a host of problems I deal with on a constant basis.

Company I work for orders parts through a supplier who refuses to use anything other than UPS.
UPS drivers can't park. They seriously can't. Not without taking up 2-3 spaces, blocking 2-3 spaces, or stopping traffic by parking in the road. Upon demanding better service than this, each and every driver I have ever encountered has said that it's UPS policy. Upon calling up a manager and speaking to them, this was more or less confirmed in that UPS does indeed instruct it's drivers to park in whatever manner is most convenient to deliver, and upon asking this manager about the customer or the traffic, the response was "that's their problem."

UPS brokerage? Half the product cost is the average I have been forced to pay if the package goes through UPS. If it goes through USPS, it's often a buck or two. I've asked suppliers to ship through anyone other than UPS, broker through anyone other than UPS. Somehow, UPS gets ahold of the package and clears it anyway (apparently they have a brokerage contract with the US government?), so I'm stuck paying the absurd brokerage. 15 dollars on a 10 dollar tshirt. Seriously.

I have a friend who runs a major import/export business here in Calgary. The amount of money UPS has cost him has been absurd. And the horrible service he's endured at their hands? I honestly don't know why they are still in business, beyond crooked/lucrative business practices.

So if this octocopter drone solves my problem, and I never have to actually interact with UPS ever again? Awesome. That's what I call progress.

Sadly, I foresee a lot of out of work pizza delivery people.

Worira
2013-12-02, 03:45 PM
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/02/amazon-drone-delivery-jeff-bezos-hype

ThePhantasm
2013-12-02, 04:22 PM
I think that's perhaps an overly cynical appraisal of the announcement. First of all, Bezos himself already said in the actual 60 minutes piece for people not to get overly excited yet because it was still several years off. But the gap of years isn't a big issue, really.

1) Any technology lapses will be overcome by then. Tech is constantly improving at an incredible rate, and it is in part because of projects and dreams like these which provide the impulse to improve the tech.

2) Sure there will be lots of logistical problems. But if we ho-hummed about all the logistical problems for every invention, nothing new and revolutionary would be created. Cynics don't create the new tech of the future - optimists do. And its hard to sympathize with an article that seems to want to fault Bezos for being an optimist.

3) The "this-is-just-a-publicity-stunt" argument is a non-starter. Something can be a publicity stunt AND a legitimate project. Release the announcement of the project at a time in the year that will maximize the publicity potential. That's just some good business sense. Good marketing and new tech are not mutually exclusive. Seems silly to naysay the project simply based on the timing of the announcement.

warty goblin
2013-12-02, 04:31 PM
2) Sure there will be lots of logistical problems. But if we ho-hummed about all the logistical problems for every invention, nothing new and revolutionary would be created. Cynics don't create the new tech of the future - optimists do. And its hard to sympathize with an article that seems to want to fault Bezos for being an optimist.


Call me a cynic, but I can't think of anything I buy that weighs under 5 lbs and that I'm willing to pay through the nose to get delivered in the next thirty minutes. The stuff I buy off of Amazon just isn't that important.

Karoht
2013-12-02, 04:48 PM
Call me a cynic, but I can't think of anything I buy that weighs under 5 lbs and that I'm willing to pay through the nose to get delivered in the next thirty minutes. The stuff I buy off of Amazon just isn't that important.Amazon is unlikely to be the only people shipping packages and taking advantage of this tech.
Legal Document shipping is surprisingly lucrative. This tech would be perfect for it. Difficult to intercept, fast, no middleman who could tamper with or read the documents, and no annoying UPS guy blocking the bosses parking space or jamming up your loading dock. Possibly a few less vehicles on the roads.

Then there's Pizza and other types of food delivery.

Google is hoping to launch a self-driving car by 2020, so far the testing is quite positive. Reinforced by self driving trucks + robots to deliver heavier freight, this is exactly the kind of tech needed for a laborless and more efficient delivery service.

Mauve Shirt
2013-12-02, 04:52 PM
What are we going to do with those people?

Karoht
2013-12-02, 04:54 PM
What are we going to do with those people?
Google the term technological unemployment.
It's not some distant problem for another generation.
Nor is it a reason to impede new tech either. We need to start planning for and facing the problem one of these days.

Hiro Protagonest
2013-12-02, 05:15 PM
Google the term technological unemployment.
It's not some distant problem for another generation.
Nor is it a reason to impede new tech either. We need to start planning for and facing the problem one of these days.

If these stay remote-controlled, it will be fine. AI has problems anyway, and any hijacking of a remote-controlled craft will be immediately noticed, and their general location will be known, and to get the same response times with AI craft you've gotta have people watching video feed anyway.

Really, technology these days is so incredible that scientists and engineers are working on things that are being put in sci-fi. Remote-controlled Reapers and TALON robots excel at scouting from air and land, respectively, and Reaper can carry a single missile for tactical strikes. Scientists and military personnel are starting to discuss the ethics of various genetic enhancements to soldiers. The Israeli are considering a laser cannon as a possibility for their next Main Battle Tank. Why should civilians just get smaller iPods?

ThePhantasm
2013-12-02, 05:18 PM
Call me a cynic, but I can't think of anything I buy that weighs under 5 lbs and that I'm willing to pay through the nose to get delivered in the next thirty minutes. The stuff I buy off of Amazon just isn't that important.

I'm a doctoral student and I would pay to get certain books delivered to me in 30 minutes if I really urgently needed them for research (and if they weren't available at the library). Its happened to me before.

warty goblin
2013-12-02, 07:24 PM
Amazon is unlikely to be the only people shipping packages and taking advantage of this tech.
Legal Document shipping is surprisingly lucrative. This tech would be perfect for it. Difficult to intercept, fast, no middleman who could tamper with or read the documents, and no annoying UPS guy blocking the bosses parking space or jamming up your loading dock. Possibly a few less vehicles on the roads.

Then there's Pizza and other types of food delivery.

Google is hoping to launch a self-driving car by 2020, so far the testing is quite positive. Reinforced by self driving trucks + robots to deliver heavier freight, this is exactly the kind of tech needed for a laborless and more efficient delivery service.
Now see legal delivery is an application I could believe for this stuff.


If these stay remote-controlled, it will be fine. AI has problems anyway, and any hijacking of a remote-controlled craft will be immediately noticed, and their general location will be known, and to get the same response times with AI craft you've gotta have people watching video feed anyway.

I eagerly anticipate a future where cameras piloted by minimum wage temps with bad attitudes fly over me regularly. This is sure to improve my life.

It's either that, or hope that the human-recognition AI is good enough I don't have to be worried about getting ground into hamburger by a helicopter blade. That's challenging, but at least technically possible. Whether the tech is there in a couple of years or not, I don't know.


Really, technology these days is so incredible that scientists and engineers are working on things that are being put in sci-fi. Remote-controlled Reapers and TALON robots excel at scouting from air and land, respectively, and Reaper can carry a single missile for tactical strikes. Scientists and military personnel are starting to discuss the ethics of various genetic enhancements to soldiers. The Israeli are considering a laser cannon as a possibility for their next Main Battle Tank. Why should civilians just get smaller iPods?
The phrase 'scientists are discussing the ethics of...' is never one that fills me with optimism. And I don't really consider the creation of ever more efficient ways of vaporizing people to be the signifier of an advancing society. Maybe I'm just weird that way.

ThePhantasm
2013-12-02, 07:34 PM
Yeah, the whole safety question is going to be very very tricky.

Hiro Protagonest
2013-12-02, 07:47 PM
I eagerly anticipate a future where cameras piloted by minimum wage temps with bad attitudes fly over me regularly. This is sure to improve my life.
That's a product of the guys in charge, not of the technology.

The phrase 'scientists are discussing the ethics of...' is never one that fills me with optimism.
Well obviously that doesn't say anything more than that they think it's possible. But I was waiting to get home before looking up my source (this PDF (http://ethics.calpoly.edu/Greenwall_report.pdf)). It's got stuff about various groups claiming the ability to add things found in various species, like kangaroo jumping capability or sea lion reflexes.

And I don't really consider the creation of ever more efficient ways of vaporizing people to be the signifier of an advancing society. Maybe I'm just weird that way.

Any advancement is an advancement. It could be a breakthrough in weaponizing lasers or it could be a breakthrough in efficient vehicle engines.

warty goblin
2013-12-02, 08:02 PM
That's a product of the guys in charge, not of the technology.
When considering any technological advancement, it's entirely reasonable to consider the uses to which people will put it, and whether people putting it to those uses is something we really want in our lives.


Well obviously that doesn't say anything more than that they think it's possible. But I was waiting to get home before looking up my source (this PDF (http://ethics.calpoly.edu/Greenwall_report.pdf)). It's got stuff about various groups claiming the ability to add things found in various species, like kangaroo leg strength or sea lion reflexes.
Possibility does not equate to ethics. It's quite possible for me to wear my neighbor's skin as a funny hat, it's hardly ethical. And scientists, being people, tend to find there's a lot of ethical things about getting large research grants.


Any advancement is an advancement. It could be a breakthrough in weaponizing lasers or it could be a breakthrough in efficient vehicle engines.
I was using advancing in the social sense. Tautologically a scientific advance is a scientific advance; there's nothing of interest in that statement. The question is whether it makes the world an actually better place.

thubby
2013-12-02, 08:16 PM
i could see this catching on in highly crowded urban environments like NYC and tokyo.
the chief problem i see is making them rugged enough to take a little weather, and dealing with vandals who will inevitably try and swat them down.

@ethics discussion.
the technology and conducting of war is fundamentally unethical. the only questions that actually gain traction are "does it work?" and "what is the other guy gonna do if we don't?"

if someone can make enhanced soldiers, they're gonna.

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 08:16 PM
I'm a doctoral student and I would pay to get certain books delivered to me in 30 minutes if I really urgently needed them for research (and if they weren't available at the library). Its happened to me before.
If your library doesn't have it, what is to guarantee a warehouse 10 km away will?

thubby
2013-12-02, 08:25 PM
If your library doesn't have it, what is to guarantee a warehouse 10 km away will?

the fact that there is a market for it.

also the potential of these little guys to connect people. i suspect that, were the 'copters to become economically viable, a very large p2p delivery system would arise.

the main problem with things like inter library loans is the time it takes to move the freaking book.

Togath
2013-12-02, 08:37 PM
the chief problem i see is making them rugged enough to take a little weather, and dealing with vandals who will inevitably try and swat them down.

I mean.. even if swatting them down become illegal, a heck of a lot of people are going to have a hard time not succumbing to the urge to knock them down to look at them.
Also there's the inherent problem of small flying things are easy to confuse for birds, so I could see these spawning a lot of hunting accidents.

Hiro Protagonest
2013-12-02, 08:39 PM
@ethics discussion.
the technology and conducting of war is fundamentally unethical. the only questions that actually gain traction are "does it work?" and "what is the other guy gonna do if we don't?"

if someone can make enhanced soldiers, they're gonna.

War ethics are about minimizing the impact of the war.

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 08:40 PM
the fact that there is a market for it.

also the potential of these little guys to connect people. i suspect that, were the 'copters to become economically viable, a very large p2p delivery system would arise.

the main problem with things like inter library loans is the time it takes to move the freaking book.
Books take up space. Lots of space. This isn't some replicator where they make up your book on the spot. You are talking about massive warehouse containing At LEAST a single copy of Amazon's entire shippable (by this method) inventory within 10km (as the crow flies) of almost any point in , oh, the continental US?

warty goblin
2013-12-02, 08:45 PM
I mean.. even if swatting them down become illegal, a heck of a lot of people are going to have a hard time not succumbing to the urge to knock them down to look at them.
Also there's the inherent problem of small flying things are easy to confuse for birds, so I could see these spawning a lot of hunting accidents.
This isn't the sort of thing one's going to very often see in the sorts of places where people grab the Mossberg with a desire to ventilate some ducks, at least for a long time. It's going to take a reasonably large population density to make a venture like this profitable, since it demands having a warehouse right on site. On the off chance that there is a hunting area nearby, programming the drones/instructing the underpaid surly temps to fly around it shouldn't be that hard.

I'd figure Cheney will still manage to shoot one though.

Personally, I'd be more concerned about what happens the first time a hawk or falcon tries to eat a drone for dinner. Bird of prey bits get sprayed everywhere, the drone crashes, everybody's day just got worse, and now Greenpeace is all up in your business.

thubby
2013-12-02, 08:54 PM
Books take up space. Lots of space. This isn't some replicator where they make up your book on the spot. You are talking about massive warehouse containing At LEAST a single copy of Amazon's entire shippable (by this method) inventory within 10km (as the crow flies) of almost any point in , oh, the continental US?

why does it have to be centralized? it's just a question of finding the book somewhere within 20 miles and moving it to the person.
now this might just be because i live in the tristate, but within 20 miles of me is a half dozen libraries, a handful of bookstores, 2 colleges and a couple of distribution centers.

there are good odds someone has it and is willing to lend/sell.

ThePhantasm
2013-12-02, 09:13 PM
Can we discuss this technology without discussing the ethics of it, please? Its not that I don't find the discussion interesting, but you guys know the drill... if we wind up straying into real-world morality discussions this thread will get locked.

Aedilred
2013-12-02, 09:14 PM
I think there are some serious ethical, social and practical questions that need to be asked - and, to the best of our ability, answered - before we wave this through, and I'm not going to be satisfied with the usual "it's progress" or "in ten years, you'll look like a dinosaur for having asked that question". In fact, while I'm on my high horse, I really think we should have had, or urgently be having, the same sort of conversation about Google Glass.

They're not necessarily obvious, either. Let's consider, for instance, the phenomenon of the parcel-bomb, and the boon that this development would offer to its proponents. Then the security measures that would have to be instated to protect against that, and how intrusive and dangerous they could be. Let's consider who's going to be using this technology - it won't just be delivery companies, once you've opened up access to city airspace to private users - and to what use they might put it. And yeah, let's talk about the employees who this development will make redundant. Given the state of the economy and unemployment figures at the moment, maybe it is worth at least putting the brakes on something that's going to make things worse.

(Obviously, in light of the above, when I say "let's talk about that" I don't mean talk here, necessarily. But I do think we as a society should try to discuss things before we open the box Epimetheus has handed us.)

warty goblin
2013-12-02, 09:18 PM
why does it have to be centralized? it's just a question of finding the book somewhere within 20 miles and moving it to the person.
now this might just be because i live in the tristate, but within 20 miles of me is a half dozen libraries, a handful of bookstores, 2 colleges and a couple of distribution centers.

there are good odds someone has it and is willing to lend/sell.

That's a significantly different, and in some ways more complicated, problem. Lacking centralization, you need to dynamically calculate the optimal use of drones based on predicted traffic, and also require multiple facilities to have the technology to service and recharge drones, as well as the personnel to load them. It's not impossible by any means, but it's not exactly something that is a particularly rapid consequence of one company using these things.

(For one thing good luck getting a university to pay for this. That's money that could go towards a new Vice Dean of something or other. Actually helping academics do their jobs by allowing them to be more efficient is just crazy-talk. )

Ravens_cry
2013-12-02, 09:29 PM
why does it have to be centralized? it's just a question of finding the book somewhere within 20 miles and moving it to the person.
now this might just be because i live in the tristate, but within 20 miles of me is a half dozen libraries, a handful of bookstores, 2 colleges and a couple of distribution centers.

there are good odds someone has it and is willing to lend/sell.
So Amazon has to get the robocoptors to these people, and then to you.
Or is everyone who sells books supposed to have them?
Sorry, the ad made it look like it was centralized thing.

the_druid_droid
2013-12-02, 10:58 PM
I think my main issue is the idea that this represents The Future. I mean, I understand that it may prove a step forward in logistics, and there are certainly lots of interesting applications of the wayfinding, computer vision, and engineering developments it will lead to/require.

But when I think of The Future, I want someone to show me something that will take my breath away; something like a feasible FTL drive, an interstellar colony ship, true hard A.I., or universal access to the kind of things they discuss in that military augmentation document to make everyone's lives longer, stronger and more mentally acute (with minimal side-effects, of course). I suppose an incremental improvement in corporate distribution using more-or-less well-established technology just doesn't do it for me, at least in terms of that sort of claim.

EDIT: Heck, I'd also include major developments in fundamental science. I take confirmation of the Higgs to be more of a sign we're living in the future than Amazon's plans for drone deliveries.

Tengu_temp
2013-12-02, 11:10 PM
But when I think of The Future, I want someone to show me something that will take my breath away; something like a feasible FTL drive, an interstellar colony ship, true hard A.I., or universal access to the kind of things they discuss in that military augmentation document to make everyone's lives longer, stronger and more mentally acute (with minimal side-effects, of course). I suppose an incremental improvement in corporate distribution using more-or-less well-established technology just doesn't do it for me, at least in terms of that sort of claim.


"Anything you buy on the internet is almost instantly delivered to you by a robot" doesn't sound futuristic enough for you? Well, tough, because the other things you mentioned, if they're possible at all, won't just appear in our lives in one big leap. They will be developed gradually over many, many years.

the_druid_droid
2013-12-02, 11:24 PM
"Anything you buy on the internet is almost instantly delivered to you by a robot" doesn't sound futuristic enough for you? Well, tough, because the other things you mentioned, if they're possible at all, won't just appear in our lives in one big leap. They will be developed gradually over many, many years.

I don't know about that - the Higgs has already been found, as I pointed out, and several of the private space companies are working on plans for colonizing other planets at the very least, with potential recruitment and training on the same timeline as Amazon's delivery drones.

Now, if we'd never seen robot drones before, sure I'd call that a sign of The Future, but that's been a declassified military technology for quite a while now (heck, it's in the Air Force recruitment commercials now), and this is just adapting them to a new purpose. As I said, there's lots to be gained from it, but it doesn't really strike me as all that jaw-dropping, since many of the questions are basically "how do we polish existing tech to get the government to let us do this?"

I'm also well aware that deep-seated change will be slow, rather than instant, but when someone shows me, say, the first late-stage clinical trials of long-term memory enhancement drugs, or experimental proof/disproof of String Theory, then I'll absolutely sit up and take notice. This particular instance, to borrow from the article Worira linked, seems too much like an ad campaign.

Ravens_cry
2013-12-03, 12:26 AM
Hmm, I'd love humans to figure out long term human hibernation. Both logistically and from a morale perspective, being able to pull a Botany Bay would make ventures to the other planets a lot easier. Not only is there obvious benefits like not having to carry as much consumables or have to handle the tedium of hundreds or even thousands of days in a rather small space with a small group of people, but being in a state of hibernation has also shown to increase radiation resistance.
And that doesn't even mention the benefits back here on Earth, as even fairly short hibernation like half a year would allow more time to find organs for transplant, not to mention preserving said organs themselves potentially.

TuggyNE
2013-12-03, 03:25 AM
Google the term technological unemployment.
It's not some distant problem for another generation.
Nor is it a reason to impede new tech either. We need to start planning for and facing the problem one of these days.

especially since the problem is now well over 200 years old. Q.v. "Luddite".

Tvtyrant
2013-12-03, 03:35 AM
There are a lot of quite neat applications IMO. At the very least the ability to dodge the morass of traffic is going to make it appealing, much less the ability to drop off medical supplies in an emergency where ambulances cannot go or even supplies to inaccessible individuals (burning buildings!)

It sure isn't dropping little silver bottles with minichutes on command yet, but maybe someday it will be!

Karoht
2013-12-03, 11:26 AM
especially since the problem is now well over 200 years old. Q.v. "Luddite".200 years ago, this wasn't a serious concern, because the technology wasn't there to replace people in factories, and labor was cheap as free.

Now we have General Motors who is one of the largest employers in north america. They effectively shipped the labor costs overseas to where the labor was cheapest.
So when the automation is cheaper than chinese sweatshop prices, how long until GM employees get pink slips?

On Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, they showed a picture of the guy from amazon, and had the following to say:
"He's bald, he's got a great laugh, he's soon going to have an army of flying helicopter robots. This guy is Lex Luthor!"

Eldan
2013-12-03, 11:50 AM
200 years ago, this wasn't a serious concern, because the technology wasn't there to replace people in factories, and labor was cheap as free.

You might just be mistaken there. There have been bloody riots and sabotage over things like automated mills and looms for more than two centuries. Depending on sources, since the 16th century. The phrase "Luddite" goes back to the 19th, maybe 18th century, workers who destroyed factory machines because they took their jobs.

dehro
2013-12-03, 12:08 PM
I just want to see one of these handle a wrong address... do they knock at the neighbours' door?

Karoht
2013-12-03, 12:11 PM
You might just be mistaken there. There have been bloody riots and sabotage over things like automated mills and looms for more than two centuries. Depending on sources, since the 16th century. The phrase "Luddite" goes back to the 19th, maybe 18th century, workers who destroyed factory machines because they took their jobs.Consider that it displaced people with skills (craftsmen) to the factories. People could still find jobs, people were still needed, the difference was that you could have pretty much anyone, you didn't need a 3rd year journeyman basket weaver. In the modern context, it's taking people with few skills (not just the delivery people) and displacing them to no where, with no major alternative. That's the major difference. It is a bubble waiting to burst.

dehro
2013-12-03, 12:19 PM
Books take up space. Lots of space. This isn't some replicator where they make up your book on the spot. You are talking about massive warehouse containing At LEAST a single copy of Amazon's entire shippable (by this method) inventory within 10km (as the crow flies) of almost any point in , oh, the continental US?

well.. clearly if that specific book isn't available in the area, the drone won't even take off. nor would any local amazon delivery guy...I don't see how that's relevant to the use, misuse or effectiveness of by-drone delivery.

also, interspecies amazon employment opportunities!
http://media.boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/RTR333UQ.jpg

Ravens_cry
2013-12-03, 12:39 PM
well.. clearly if that specific book isn't available in the area, the drone won't even take off. nor would any local amazon delivery guy...I don't see how that's relevant to the use, misuse or effectiveness of by-drone delivery.

A delivery could come from a significantly farther distance, not bring restricted to a 10 mile radius.

dehro
2013-12-03, 12:48 PM
still not seeing your point.
if a warehouse is located in a city of a few million inhabitants, drones could do an awful lot of deliveries, leaving the human staff free to manage longer ranges.
they are not mutually exclusive

warty goblin
2013-12-03, 01:08 PM
Consider that it displaced people with skills (craftsmen) to the factories. People could still find jobs, people were still needed, the difference was that you could have pretty much anyone, you didn't need a 3rd year journeyman basket weaver. In the modern context, it's taking people with few skills (not just the delivery people) and displacing them to no where, with no major alternative. That's the major difference. It is a bubble waiting to burst.

It's also worth noting that the industrial revolution made most people poorer, and (in some cases drastically) decreased their quality of life.


On the more general topic, I've always thought it a strange canard that innovation necessarily doesn't damage the overall economy. The usual reasoning of course goes that a technology which increases labor efficiency drops prices, thus spurring demand, and creating more employment. It always struck me that at some point the rate of technological innovation would surpass the need to employ more people through rising demand. Plus, as innovation creates less and less demand for workers, the price of labor goes down and wages fall or stagnate, which further undercuts demand for products. The entire system seems prone to falling into a really vicious positive feedback loop

Mono Vertigo
2013-12-03, 02:25 PM
Okay, I have a XKCD strip that is not only more relevant, but also much more serious, and that sums up my thoughts pretty well: http://xkcd.com/1289/

(Now, Amazon drones? It's amusing to think about, but it will realistically take a while before it can be perfected and considered a worthwhile alternative. Anything could happen in the meanwhile.)

Aedilred
2013-12-03, 03:03 PM
It's also worth noting that the industrial revolution made most people poorer, and (in some cases drastically) decreased their quality of life.
You could make a fairly cogent argument that the industrial revolution was one of the principal long-term causes of and contributors to the two (twentieth-century) World Wars, too. In fact, just about every paradigm shift in human technology has been accompanied by untold conflict and human suffering.

This isn't necessarily a reason to put a halt to technological development - as if we even could - but I'm not reassured that safeguards are been put in place, with current technological developments - to stop what has happened on every previous occasion happening again. I'm not convinced that anyone in a position that matters has even considered the question. I'm not even sure it's possible. It all makes me want to run screaming back to my cave.


On the more general topic, I've always thought it a strange canard that innovation necessarily doesn't damage the overall economy. The usual reasoning of course goes that a technology which increases labor efficiency drops prices, thus spurring demand, and creating more employment. It always struck me that at some point the rate of technological innovation would surpass the need to employ more people through rising demand. Plus, as innovation creates less and less demand for workers, the price of labor goes down and wages fall or stagnate, which further undercuts demand for products. The entire system seems prone to falling into a really vicious positive feedback loop
I suspect you're right. It seems only to hold true so long as demand remains higher than the level of technological innovation. If technological innovation were the only factor driving demand then that might remain so, but something else (like a disruption in availability of credit) causes demand to drop below the level of innovation, then the rates in growth of each will diverge, and it seems to instigate a death spiral.

ThePhantasm
2013-12-03, 03:17 PM
"Anything you buy on the internet is almost instantly delivered to you by a robot" doesn't sound futuristic enough for you? Well, tough, because the other things you mentioned, if they're possible at all, won't just appear in our lives in one big leap. They will be developed gradually over many, many years.

Seems pretty futuristic to me! This is a huge tech leap forward in mail delivery. Now our mail gets delivered by robots. Pretty amazing.

warty goblin
2013-12-03, 03:26 PM
You could make a fairly cogent argument that the industrial revolution was one of the principal long-term causes of and contributors to the two (twentieth-century) World Wars, too. In fact, just about every paradigm shift in human technology has been accompanied by untold conflict and human suffering.

Interestingly, I've seen it fairly well argued that the overall story for Europe during the middle ages was one of generally improving conditions for everybody. It's only when you get into the Enlightenment that things start to go downhill for most folks.


This isn't necessarily a reason to put a halt to technological development - as if we even could - but I'm not reassured that safeguards are been put in place, with current technological developments - to stop what has happened on every previous occasion happening again. I'm not convinced that anyone in a position that matters has even considered the question. I'm not even sure it's possible. It all makes me want to run screaming back to my cave.
Unfortunately, cave-person is an increasingly competitive field. Innovations in atlatl and bow technology, combined with early results from agricultural field-studies suggest a precipitous drop in the need for hunter-gatherers in the long term, while declining mammoth populations suggest hard times for hunters in the short term. Try for Shamen-Who-Paints-Cave-Walls, as indications are that mysticism retains good job security, so long as you don't get sacrificed to appease the gods after a poor migration. Note that employment related sacrifice is not covered by Obamacare.


I suspect you're right. It seems only to hold true so long as demand remains higher than the level of technological innovation. If technological innovation were the only factor driving demand then that might remain so, but something else (like a disruption in availability of credit) causes demand to drop below the level of innovation, then the rates in growth of each will diverge, and it seems to instigate a death spiral.
I actually suspect that even if technological innovation were the only driving factor, the same death spiral is quite possible. If innovation occurs fast enough that (workers unemployed through technology)/(workers hired to feed increased demand) exceeds one, innovation remains a sensible investment at the level of individual companies, but becomes a net driver of lower wages, higher structural unemployment, and the attendant declining standard of living, increased inequality coupled to lower social mobility, and eventually social instability.

Now whether we've reached that point yet is a question for economic statisticians far better than I, but it's a question worth asking. What exactly one does about it is an even harder, but just as worthy, issue.

Hiro Protagonest
2013-12-03, 04:07 PM
Interestingly, I've seen it fairly well argued that the overall story for Europe during the middle ages was one of generally improving conditions for everybody. It's only when you get into the Enlightenment that things start to go downhill for most folks.

Well, to be fair, all European "technological advancements" at the time was just inching them closer to being as advanced as the Greeks and Romans.

It is probably fair to say that once you get a stable, good society in place with whatever technological level you have, every new innovation disrupts that society. Granted, automobiles and planes don't take jobs - not human jobs, at least (although travel efficiency to the point where it's cheaper to hire labor in worse societies for a lot less and then haul it back hurts the economy). Communication technology removes much of the need for couriers (they still have to carry packages), but now you need guys who know how to install and repair it. War technology doesn't impact civilian life by itself, although wars tend to get bigger with new travel technology and the great equalizer. But robotic technology and technology that dumbs down the trades of skilled laborers ultimately takes away prosperity from those doing the grunt work.

warty goblin
2013-12-03, 04:25 PM
Well, to be fair, all European "technological advancements" at the time was just inching them closer to being as advanced as the Greeks and Romans.

This is one of those horrible historical myths that needs to finally die. While the Migration period that followed the fall of the Western Roman Empire was a fairly bleak era characterized be starving and/or getting set on fire by Germanic tribes, by the time one rolls around to the later Viking era and into the high middle ages, the story is very different. Innovations in agriculture allowed for the cultivation of areas the Romans never could, trade and commerce was once again thriving - banking is a medieval invention - while science and engineering (particularly architecture) were advancing and in many cases surpassing the achievements of classical Greece. Industry figured out how to effectively harness water and wind, metallurgy advanced considerably, as did navigation, printing, and a lot of other disciplines. Europe by fourteen or fifteen hundred was far more technologically advanced than classical Athens or Rome ever were.


It is probably fair to say that once you get a stable, good society in place with whatever technological level you have, every new innovation (that isn't "kill people more efficiently", since those just change how war is waged. Although guerilla warfare is far easier with explosives and rifles...) disrupts that society.
There's disrupts, and destabilizes. I guess you could consider the iPhone a disruption, but it hardly threw society fundamentally off-kilter. Steam power pretty clearly did.

Hiro Protagonest
2013-12-03, 04:33 PM
This is one of those horrible historical myths that needs to finally die. While the Migration period that followed the fall of the Western Roman Empire was a fairly bleak era characterized be starving and/or getting set on fire by Germanic tribes, by the time one rolls around to the later Viking era and into the high middle ages, the story is very different. Innovations in agriculture allowed for the cultivation of areas the Romans never could, trade and commerce was once again thriving - banking is a medieval invention - while science and engineering (particularly architecture) were advancing and in many cases surpassing the achievements of classical Greece. Industry figured out how to effectively harness water and wind, metallurgy advanced considerably, as did navigation, printing, and a lot of other disciplines. Europe by fourteen or fifteen hundred was far more technologically advanced than classical Athens or Rome ever were.
Alright then. I did know that Europe had come up with some new innovations (the longbow is good for getting the most staves out of a tree, even with the thickness needed for its weight and the fact that it has to be made out of yew, mayyyybe juniper or hickory could work, and barring Victorian tournament longbows they were about as good as flatbows of their weight. Also, superior metallurgy), but I didn't know the extent of it.

There's disrupts, and destabilizes. I guess you could consider the iPhone a disruption, but it hardly threw society fundamentally off-kilter. Steam power pretty clearly did.

Yeah, true. I edited my post right before you posted. It's really only technology that dumbs down skilled trades or removes the need for human workers that can truly destabilize a human society.

Aedilred
2013-12-03, 06:55 PM
Interestingly, I've seen it fairly well argued that the overall story for Europe during the middle ages was one of generally improving conditions for everybody. It's only when you get into the Enlightenment that things start to go downhill for most folks.
I'd agree with the first part, subject to ups and downs of course. Living conditions probably peaked in the early 14th century prior to the Plague before collapsing and taking a long while to recover.

Depending on when you'd locate the start of the Enlightenment, though, I'd say the upheavals started a way before that. The wars at the dawn of the modern period - especially the Thirty Years War - were nearly catastrophic, fuelled by technological advances across the board. There was also something of a corresponding intellectual retrenchment in society across the board, particularly in religious areas, but that's not a subject for this forum.



Yeah, true. I edited my post right before you posted. It's really only technology that dumbs down skilled trades or removes the need for human workers that can truly destabilize a human society.
I think there's a distinction to be drawn - albeit a fine one - between technology that makes human labour more efficient and technology that makes human labour redundant. The former can be accommodated and is probably, on the whole, a net positive for society; the latter causes serious problems. The former can, of course, turn into the latter if sufficiently optimised.

Ravens_cry
2013-12-03, 09:27 PM
still not seeing your point.
if a warehouse is located in a city of a few million inhabitants, drones could do an awful lot of deliveries, leaving the human staff free to manage longer ranges.
they are not mutually exclusive
So , a pretty massive building on expensive land that can only serve a limited market. I am not seeing the benefit to be honest.
All the best to them though.
You want the future? We are communicating with it.

ThePhantasm
2013-12-03, 09:57 PM
I think you guys are taking the "future has arrived" title a bit too literally and seriously. It was simply a humorous reference to the fun notion that robots might be delivering mail, and that this is science-fictiony stuff come to life. It wasn't supposed to imply that we have suddenly broken into some new era. Sure, you can point to the internet and recent advances in medical technology as "futuristic." Nobody was denying that.

Raven's Cry, Amazon already has lots of warehouses in lots of major cities. And the warehouses would not be able to only serve customers in a limited range. These octocopters wouldn't do away with all truck / vehicle deliveries, just certain small packages. You are taking the proposed system to extremes.

Gnoman
2013-12-03, 10:20 PM
I'd like to chime in here and note that a single small warehouse can easily hold an immense number of books. As a rough estimate, the company I work for processes 100,000 - 200,000 books daily (the vast majority are ultra-low-value titles of the Harlequin and Gold Eagle sort, and are recycled), and maintains an active sale inventory in excess of 3,000,000. The storage infrastructure needed to support this is a lot smaller than you might think.

dehro
2013-12-04, 02:20 AM
So , a pretty massive building on expensive land that can only serve a limited market. I am not seeing the benefit to be honest.

I'd like to chime in here and note that a single small warehouse can easily hold an immense number of books. As a rough estimate, the company I work for processes 100,000 - 200,000 books daily (the vast majority are ultra-low-value titles of the Harlequin and Gold Eagle sort, and are recycled), and maintains an active sale inventory in excess of 3,000,000. The storage infrastructure needed to support this is a lot smaller than you might think.
This.
Also, you should not assume that the entire world functions the way things run in the US.
There are entire countries out there where the ginormous warehouse built on the cheap in the middle of nowhere is just not a viable option

ThePhantasm
2013-12-04, 02:38 AM
Amazon US has a lot of features not available elsewhere in the world. Sorry. That's the way it is.

Thunderfist12
2013-12-04, 09:18 AM
also, interspecies amazon employment opportunities!
http://media.boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/RTR333UQ.jpg

:smallbiggrin: That's too funny.

But seriously, I expected a ton of tech mentioned, and the thread is mostly just ethics with a few technology references.

:smallsigh: