Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Amazon Delivers What You Will Buy Before You Order It

Coming soon. Image Source: Amazon via the Daily Mail.

On Christmas Eve of last year, Amazon filed a patent for anticipatory delivery. You can read it here. The Irish Times explains how microdata and personal branding have intersected so exactly that Amazon expects that it knows what you want before you even know you want it; it will purchase the item you want before it occurs to you to purchase it, and ship it preemptively:
The online retail giant now wants to start shipping items to customers before they have even ordered them. Taking the buying process to the next level, Amazon has developed a system that pre-emptively delivers goods to customers based on their previous purchases.
The company believes it can predict shoppers’ needs so precisely, that it wants to have a package in transit to them, before they have placed the order.
The e-commerce juggernaut has obtained a patent for what it calls “anticipatory package shipping”, a system whereby the company anticipates buying habits and sends potential purchases to the closest delivery hub, waiting for the order to arrive, or, in some cases, even shipping directly to a customer’s door.
According to the patent filing, items would be moved from Amazon’s fulfilment centre to a shipping hub close to the customer in anticipation of an eventual purchase.
“In some instances, the package may be delivered to a potentially interested customer as a gift rather than incurring the cost of returning or redirecting the package,” the patent reads.
“For example, if a given customer is particularly valued (according to past ordering history, appealing demographic profile, etc), delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill.”
Amazon says the system is designed to cut down on shipping delays, which “may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants.”
In deciding what to ship, Amazon said it may consider previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping-cart contents, returns and even how long an Internet user’s cursor hovers over an item.
See other reports here and here. As Amazon walks an insidious line between psychological intrusion and arrogant clairvoyance, not one word is said about how intrusive and manipulative this is. The patent doesn't say it, but presumably the anticipatory ordering function will also reflect Amazon processing previous buyers' personal information on social networks. Imagine if this concept, or something like it, was used by other businesses. Is a convenient service really worth so much? Why are all these initiatives accepted so passively by the public, with no regard for their larger implications?

Amazon additionally seeks to undercut the competition in shipping by setting up drone deliveries which will ship your order in 30 minutes or less. The drone program is called Amazon Prime Air. The program has a few years of R&D to go; it also has to pass Federal Aviation Authority regulations in the US. But on 7 March 2014, the Daily Mail reported that a transport judge recently dismissed a fine enforcing an FAA ban on commercial unmanned aircraft in the US.

One friend, C., on hearing this, expected that people will shoot the drones down, steal their packages and sell the contents on eBay, hence completing a near-perfect Internet Circle Of Life. In the meantime, sit tight and await the drones. Below the jump, see the drone package delivery promo video.

Here come your books: Amazon Prime Air drone delivery. Video Source: Amazon via Youtube.

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