December 16, 2016
Amazon, having never watched Westworld, Terminator, or the “Itchy and Scratchy Land” episode of The Simpsons, awakens the advance guard of its new drone army
by Ian Dreiblatt
It’s official: the vile drones of Amazon now dwell among us.
First-ever #AmazonPrimeAir customer delivery is in the books. 13 min—click to delivery. Check out the video: https://t.co/Xl8HiQMA1S pic.twitter.com/5HGsmHvPlE
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) December 14, 2016
Let us not mince words: gross.
The trip represents a major step forward in Amazon’s plan, announced just over three years ago by CEO Jeff Bezos, to populate the earth with branded delivery drones. It also brings us a step closer to the possibility that the world will end not because of an errant TrumpTweet™ or crucially absent vowel, but in a hail of destruction rained down by octocopters gone sentient. Which is… cool?
The flight, which was formally a Beta test of the initiative Amazon calls “Prime Air,” is a reminder of several issues that have dogged the program for a long time. Should we be worried that Amazon, a company notorious for rummaging through consumer data with sticky digits, might also use its drones to violate our privacy? Will they demonstrate a modicum of decency for our shared and priceless human goddamn heritage? Will these wingéd roombas be legal, safe, and unhackable? And—considering that, for the time being, consumer goods remain available through a network of cash-and-credit-based physical plants (scientists call these “stores”)—is airborne robo-delivery really something we need?
Also, as April Glaser pointed out earlier this week in Recode, the program will also require Bezos to cooperate with a Federal Aviation Authority currently drifting into the open hands of cat-torturing schoolboy Donald Trump. This, and the fact that there’s historically been no love lost between Bezos and Trump, may help explain why Bezos was one of the very first of America’s corporate titans to roll over for Trump: So far, this seems to be playing out just fine — Bezos was invited to Wednesday’s meeting between Trump and representatives of the tech sector. (Representatives of Twitter, originally invited to that meeting, were barred at the last minute for having declined during the campaign to create a “Crooked Hillary” emoji. That is not a joke.)
As of press time, reportedly, Bezos was hoping to have his belly scratched, Trump was frantically googling “How do you innovation countries?”, and Amazon’s army of drones, having failed to teach themselves compassion, were slowly figuring out how to shoot laserbeams at moving targets on the ground.
Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.