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Amazon Patents “Anticipatory” Shipping


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#1    Child of Bast

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 04:51 PM

The biggest problem I see with this is that I don't typically buy friends gifts and have them shipped to me to then turn around and ship the gifts to my friends. It's far cheaper for me to simply order something and have it sent to my friend. I just had three items sitting in my shopping cart for roughly three days, but they weren't meant for me. They're being sent to a friend as a gift. I put them in my shopping cart so I wouldn't forget what I'd chosen, but how can anticipatory shipping know to what address it is being sent? Just seems absurd to me. Jeff Bezos needs to calm the **** down. lol

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Amazon’s plans for autonomous flying delivery drones are so last year. The ecommerce juggernaut is purportedly working on something far more dystopian: pre-shipment.

Amazon has filed a patent for a shipping system designed to cut delivery times by predicting what buyers are going to buy before they buy it — and shipping products in their general direction, or even right to their door, before the sales click even (or ever) falls.

Which really is one more step towards cutting out human agency entirely from the ecommerce roundabout. Why not have machines autonomously buy stuff from other machines and have a third set of autonomous bots deliver it — while the quaking flesh recipients who open the door meekly accept whatever packages they are getting in the hopes that yet more machines won’t decide today is the day to harvest their organs.

[Aaaand right on cue, the doorbell rings. It's a delivery man, with -- you guessed it -- an Amazon parcel for me. This interaction should be entirely normal but there's a distinctly sinister undertone, even though I'm 99.9% sure that the thing inside the box is something I ordered last week, not something Amazon thinks I'll want to order next week. Or the thing I ordered a few minutes ago. But that, presumably, is exactly where Amazon is aiming to go.]

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#2    Dark_Grey

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 05:04 PM

What if it anticipates wrong and I'm stuck with something I dont want?

"For God doth know that in the day ye eat [the fruit] thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

"The tragedy of humanity is that we have stone age instincts, medieval institutions and god-like powers."


#3    Child of Bast

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 05:39 PM

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And in those instances when the demand prediction algorithm fails, as well it must, the patent suggests Amazon could deliver the package anyway — as a gift to someone who hasn’t actually clicked to buy it yet, but who, its data analysis suggests, might quite like it — i.e. if the cost of returning/rerouting the item exceeds the cost of paying a surprise visit to a pre-customer.

Which could either be a great surprise, or hideously inappropriate — depending on how good an oracle Amazon’s algorithm turns out to be. Inappropriate like delivering a DIY Will pack to someone who has already died, say. Or kids toys to bereaved parents. Anticipatory algorithms are going to have to navigate plenty of human pitfalls if they’re not to end up clanging on the doorbell.


No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness. ~ Aristotle




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