Thursday, June 6, 2019

Drones and the Sound of Silence

Amazon just announced its plan to offer thirty-minute delivery of products to Amazon Prime members.

I greet that announcement with a sigh, rather than any real enthusiasm for the process.

Soon it will be followed by pizza and fast-food deliveries, anything light enough for Wal-Mart to send your way and surveillance by local police as well as private companies promising a good night’s sleep.

If only you could sleep. And that’s my point.

The now society demands immediacy and the silent majority yearns for quiet in a battle that can never satisfy both.

Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence comes to mind.

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping

And the vision that was planted in my brain Still remains Within the sound of silence

Good luck with that. As our cities become more and more noisy, there’s a national outcry against honking horns, emergency vehicles at all hours and gangs of drunks smoking outside pubs. We can now add drone delivery. Nothing is sacred, including the nocturnal vision softly creeping, that left its seeds while I was sleeping.

It’s impossible for a drone (much less numerous drones) to whizz by our windows or across our gardens without leaving its smear of noise.

All of that so my (or your) neighbor can get his fucking pizza ten minutes earlier.
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Yeah sure. I can only speculate on the visions that are planted in our brains without silence. Close your windows folks and retreat even further into the mousetraps our homes have become.

So, back to Amazon for a second or two. Someone was bound to light the fuse, exploding into drone-age America. And who better than Amazon, the all-powerful, ubiquitous purveyor of the quick and cheap.

But that’s not even the main complaint. We might even survive Amazon’s intrusion and mark it off as another annoying oh-shit moment.

But speed demands speed and if you can’t keep up, you’re dead meat. So the competition will keep up, everywhere. Everywhere is huge territory and it includes the most private, intimate, soothing areas left to us in an increasingly noisy and exposed environment.

(Harvard Business Review) It’s already possible to buy one of a new generation of hobbyist aircraft — unmanned aircraft systems complete with cameras, GPS, infrared sensors, and microphones, all under the control of a smartphone or tablet — for less than $300. Not surprisingly, people are lining up to buy them. The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that, within a decade, private drones will constitute a $90 billion industry.

And it all began with Amazon.

Thanks for that, Big Business.

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