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.]
The patent, which was filed in August 2012 and granted December 24 last year, describes a method for what Amazon calls “anticipatory shipping” — with one pre-shipping scenario (of the multitudes detailed) being as follows:
…a method may include packaging one or more items as a package for eventual shipment to a delivery address, selecting a destination geographical area to which to ship the package, shipping the package to the destination geographical area without completely specifying the delivery address at the time of shipment, and while the package is in transit, completely specifying the delivery address for the package.