Apr 20 2012

Drone Delivery

""){ ?> By Valkyrie Ice


I was reading this article the other day and got a good laugh. But I had to agree with the writer: “Here’s the idea as outlined on customers download a smartphone app, which allows them to order tacos to a specific location. The tacos then arrive via flying quadcopter. Tipping your delivery drone is presumably optional. That’s it. It’s so brilliant, we can’t believe the kids down at the GRASP Lab haven’t already cornered the market on this.”

The “Taco Copter” might be a joke, but the concept itself isn’t. And it’s implications need to be examined, because it has much broader impact than what you might see at first glance. It’s that phrase “delivery drone” that you should be focused on.

Because we are on the verge of creating exactly that; a fully automated end to end delivery system from factory to home. From the manufacturing robots to the “automated warehouse” run by drones to the soon-to-be-automated “self driving transport trucks” to the final link from the local delivery warehouse to you home via a quadcopter, it will soon be possible to create an item exactly when a person purchases it and then deliver it directly to the end user. Toss in the developments I discussed in “Adding our Way to Abundance” for H+ magazine with 3d printers making it possible for manufacturers to make any given item in an “on demand” manner, instead of the current “always on” production lines of the industrial era, and what you have is a recipe for unprecedented levels of customer convenience. Imagine ordering a taco on your smartphone during a traffic jam, and getting it brought to your car window. Imagine getting that new dress custom made to your measurements and delivered direct to your door. Imagine never having to travel to a grocery store — or to any kind of store — to shop again.

But that’s kind of tame compared to some of the other possibilities, like using quadcopters to create on demand supply systems for regions that have no roads, no airports, and no modern infrastructure of any kind.  That’s the idea behind “Matternet,” a concept proposed at a recent Singularity University conference. Imagine a village in the Amazon having the same ability to order goods and services from half a world away that you do sitting right there in front of your computer. Then imagine a billion people all over the world being able to make products using native techniques and trade them with any other person in the world, directly, instead of having to go through some 3rd party that pays them pennies per dollar.

That’s what fully automated delivery networks using drones of various kinds could enable. Rather than a product only being available in certain regions, every corner of the world could be accessed as easily as your corner store. You could be walking down the street in NYC and have a drone home in on your smartphones gps location as easily as walking through the Amazon jungle. Military troops in the field could receive supplies just as easily. An expedition to Everest would be just as easy to reach with Quadcopters.

But even that’s not the end, because, as I pointed out in “Quadrotors Will Do Everything,” simple delivery systems are merely the tip of the iceberg. Automated drone systems could not merely deliver goods, but provide services of all kinds, from construction to telepresence. Drones could, in fact, render many labor or people intensive jobs obsolete. A fully automated US Post office could run for a fraction of the cost of the current mail carriers. Drone trucks on our highways could be far safer by eliminating drivers who are too tired, or careless. Drone in those remaining retail stores could ensure they are always stocked, freeing the human workers to concentrate on customer service

  • By Maximo Ramos, April 23, 2012 @ 11:06 am

    and all we need is fewer jobs, that is what really creates a healthy economy and civilisation… “Transhumanism : Putting People Out of Work One Crackpot Idea at a Time” ™

  • By Valkyrie Ice, April 23, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

    Why yes “Max” Let’s make sure we keep humans doing mindless menial labor just to make sure we keep the status quo static, and never ever progress or free humanity from endless drudgery. Let’s all go back to the dark ages and make life brutal and short too while we’re at it, shall we?

  • By maximo ramos, April 28, 2012 @ 9:42 am

    yes, and right NOW (not in some futuristic scifi fantasy) automation is causing mass unemployment with NO SOCIALIST SAFETY net outside a few European socialist democracies. And,,, humans are starving. Robots took their jobs! Foxconn within 3 years is going to fire 1 million Chinese factory workers and replace them with robots to make everything Apple Computer sells. Are you OK with them all starving?

  • By Xeonicus, May 1, 2012 @ 6:36 am

    Max, I suppose the Industrial Revolution should have been avoided too? Perhaps we should have remained an Agrarian society? For every bit of progress that you can demonize, I bet I can list off several benefits that have improved and saved lives.

    Do you drive a car? You know the industrial revolution led to factory automation and the loss of dangerous, menial, low pay factory jobs. (not unlike the situation in China you are railing against) Now robots build cars on assembly lines. How come everyone didn’t starve????? They adapted, and the jobs humans were needed for changed. A lot of those factory jobs became safer “inspection” jobs. In the end, the consumer product became safer, the business became more profitable, and quality of life improved for all.

  • By maximo ramos, May 1, 2012 @ 8:43 am

    Indeed, an agrarian society would not be facing an insurmountable and extinction level environmental crisis like this planet and the entire human race faces right now. Your various comparisons are also quite specious, well beyond ‘apples and oranges.’ The industrial revolution EMPLOYED people, so to compare it to a system that employs only machines is simply inane,

  • By Valkyrie Ice, May 3, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

    We don’t face an “insurmountable and extinction level environmental crisis”. We face a natural rise in temperatures world wide as we RETURN to the SAME TEMPERATURE we were at PRIOR to the Little Ice Age. Yes that requires that we adapt, but adaptation happens to be a specialty of the human race.

    There is however a vast hysterical belief in “doomsday” being exploited by cynical politicians and special interest groups who’s sole interest is in promoting their own pocketbooks who will be happy to cater to your every paranoia. However the facts remain that CHANGE does NOT equal “The end of the world”. It means that the “status quo” get’s overturned and NEW WAYS OF DOING THINGS have to get found. Sadly, people like you make finding those ways that much harder to do because you run around screaming in fear, and offering such “solutions” as committing genocide on 80% of the human race just so that you can avoid having to adapt to changing conditions. The arrogance displayed by those who support this goal in assuming that they would “naturally” be part of the 20% that survived verges on delusional.

    But please, do continue to cower in your hole. Why not pull a big rock over the top and make yourself feel even more secure from the big bad CHANGING world that you are so afraid of?

    However, I’m neither paranoid, nor afraid of change. I’m also quite well aware that the topics I discuss can mean vast unemployment and millions facing bleak prospects. However, entrenched special interests are what causes that suffering, not technology. And historically the sole way to overcome special interests is for sufficient numbers of people to overcome apathy and fearmongers like you to force those special interests out of power. This will occur regardless, but the more fear and paranoia is promoted, the less likely peaceful and non violent means to accomplish this overthrow will be used and the more likely violent armed conflict becomes.

    So, quite simply, all your rants and raves amount to little more than an attempt to ensure that change can only occur after the maximum number of corpses are piled up, instead of trying to find paths to minimize human suffering and death. And yeah, I will quite happily contemplate millions being out of work and having to band together to remove entrenched special interest groups if it means a few million less deaths on the way to the inevitable future in which “socialist safety nets” exist for the entire human race and no special interests can promote themselves at humanities expense. An even better solution would be to put those nets into place BEFORE the inevitable replacement of humans with automated labor and prevent that suffering from occurring at all, but sadly, people like you are working as hard as possible to prevent that from happening by spreading fear and hatred of change where ever you can.

  • By maximo ramos, May 4, 2012 @ 6:51 am

    Current environmental problems go so vastly far beyond so called ‘global warming’ that all you do here is display vast ignorance of the topic. The technocratic socialist system you envision would not lead to the faintest chance of a life worth calling human.

    Socialism is for termites, it is contrary to every authentic human characteristic.

  • By Mr Cutlets, May 6, 2012 @ 4:06 am


    What, exactly, are these “authentic human characteristics” that we all apparently have? Apart from this gross generalization, which is assuming that there is such a thing as a cross-cultural, immutable ‘human nature’, what exactly is your argument? I can only assume (correct me if I am wrong) what you mean to say is that socialism does not work because people don’t care about each other? I’m not going to make you into a straw man, so please elaborate so we can discuss opinions.

    Also, when you make a bold claim and say that someone “display[s] vast ignorance of the topic,” or that “The technocratic socialist system you envision would not lead to the faintest chance of a life worth calling human,” you might want to give some reasons/arguments to support those claims so that other people might see your point of view 🙂

  • By maximo ramos, May 6, 2012 @ 10:46 am

    I don’t have the time to lecture at you on freedom, dignity and privacy. Real humans value freedom and dignity and privacy. So called “transhumans” tend not to. This has been hashed and rehashed all over this webpage, go back and read it for yourself.

    “The target of the Jihad was a machine-attitude as much as the machines,” Leto said. “Humans had set those machines to usurp our sense of beauty, our necessary selfdom out of which we make living judgments. Naturally, the machines were destroyed.” – F. Herbert

  • By maximo ramos, May 6, 2012 @ 11:06 am

    Google CEO Eric Schmidt Dismisses the Importance of Privacy

    Yesterday, the web was buzzing with commentary about Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s dangerous, dismissive response to concerns about search engine users’ privacy. When asked during an interview for CNBC’s recent “Inside the Mind of Google” special about whether users should be sharing information with Google as if it were a “trusted friend,” Schmidt responded, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

    Unfortunately, Schmidt’s statement makes it seem as if Google, a company that claims to care about privacy, is not even concerned enough to understand basic lessons about privacy and why it’s important on so many levels — from protection against shallow embarrassments to the preservation of freedom and human rights. In response to Schmidt, Security researcher Bruce Schneier referenced an eloquent piece he wrote in 2006 that makes the case that “[p]rivacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.” Schneier writes:

    For if we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness. We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that — either now or in the uncertain future — patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable.

  • By Mr Cutlets, May 6, 2012 @ 10:21 pm


    I would prefer that you did not lecture at me :). Again, your invocation and assumption that there is such a thing as “real humans” does nothing to clarify your argument, especially since you use such broad, mutable abstract categories like “freedom” and “dignity” without defining what they mean. Overall, I think your pessimistic attitudes is are not useful and are largely self-fulfilling.

  • By maximo ramos, May 7, 2012 @ 4:38 am

    Real humans don’t practice technophile machine worship, have machine attitudes or machine parts. The cyborg is the nouveau Nosferatu, he is not alive in any meaningful sense.

  • By Valkyrie Ice, May 8, 2012 @ 7:58 am

    And as suspected, you have no real logical objections, or any substantive arguments. Merely illogical beliefs and the emotion of fear. A picture perfect textbook case of xenophobia.

    “I’m scared of change! I have to demonize anyone who is not afraid of the different!”

    Pity for you I’m already a demoness.

  • By maximo ramos, May 8, 2012 @ 8:48 am

    You really need to look up the definition of the word ‘xenophobia’, as you consistently misuse this word badly. It does not mean what you think it does.

  • By Mr Cutlets, May 9, 2012 @ 11:42 am

    “Real humans don’t practice technophile machine worship, have machine attitudes or machine parts. The cyborg is the nouveau Nosferatu, he is not alive in any meaningful sense.”

    I would easily hold that most of the bodies called ‘human’ are not ‘alive in any meaningful sense’ right now by virtue of the culture industry, or just modern existence in general. The cyborg can be viewed as an invigorating shock to humanity that facilitates (like this website) conversations about humanity and what our existence means. ‘Human’ is an abstract quality that wasn’t extended to a majority of the earth’s population (that is, people who are not white males), who have been economically and physically exploited, until very recently. Your definition of ‘real humans’ is an extremely limiting conception of imagined ideals that will most likely be nearly archaic in 50 years or so.

    But I appreciate your clarification.

  • By maximo ramos, May 9, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

    Someone hasn’t read ‘Brave New World’….

  • By maximo ramos, May 9, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

    The Introduction (Chapters 1–6)

    The novel opens in London in 632 (AD 2540 in the Gregorian Calendar). The vast majority of the population is unified under the World State, an eternally peaceful, stable global society in which goods and resources are plentiful (because the population is permanently limited to no more than two billion people) and everyone is happy. Natural reproduction has been done away with and children are created, ‘decanted’ and raised in Hatcheries and Conditioning Centres, where they are divided into five castes (which are further split into ‘Plus’ and ‘Minus’ members) and designed to fulfill predetermined positions within the social and economic strata of the World State. Fetuses chosen to become members of the highest caste, ‘Alpha’, are allowed to develop naturally while maturing to term in “decanting bottles”, while fetuses chosen to become members of the lower castes (‘Beta’, ‘Gamma’, ‘Delta’, ‘Epsilon’) are subjected to in situ chemical interference to cause arrested development in intelligence or physical growth. Each ‘Alpha’ or ‘Beta’ is the product of one unique fertilized egg developing into one unique fetus. Members of lower castes are not unique but are instead created using the Bokanovsky process which enables a single egg to spawn (at the point of the story being told) up to 96 children and one ovary to produce thousands of children. To further increase the birthrate of Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, Podsnap’s Technique causes all the eggs in the ovary to mature simultaneously, allowing the hatchery to get full use of the ovary in two years’ time. People of these castes make up the majority of human society, and the production of such specialized children bolsters the efficiency and harmony of society, since these people are deliberately limited in their cognitive and physical abilities, as well as the scope of their ambitions and the complexity of their desires, thus rendering them easier to control. All children are educated via the hypnopaedic process, which provides each child with caste-appropriate subconscious messages to mold the child’s life-long self-image and social outlook to that chosen by the leaders and their predetermined plans for producing future adult generations.

    To maintain the World State’s Command Economy for the indefinite future, all citizens are conditioned from birth to value consumption with such platitudes as “ending is better than mending,” i.e., buy a new item instead of fixing the old one, because constant consumption, and near-universal employment to meet society’s material demands, is the bedrock of economic and social stability for the World State. Beyond providing social engagement and distraction in the material realm of work or play, the need for transcendence, solitude and spiritual communion is addressed with the ubiquitous availability and universally endorsed consumption of the drug soma. Soma is an allusion to a mythical drink of the same name consumed by ancient Indo-Aryans. In the book, soma is a hallucinogen that takes users on enjoyable, hangover-free “holidays”. It was developed by the World State to provide these inner-directed personal experiences within a socially managed context of State-run ‘religious’ organizations; social clubs. The hypnopaedically inculcated affinity for the State-produced drug, as a self-medicating comfort mechanism in the face of stress or discomfort, thereby eliminates the need for religion or other personal allegiances outside or beyond the World State.

  • By david r. jones, May 9, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

    don’t forget Zamyatin!


    We is set in the future. D-503 lives in the One State,[2] an urban nation constructed almost entirely of glass, which allows the secret police/spies to inform on and supervise the public more easily. The structure of the state is analogous to the prison design concept developed by Jeremy Bentham commonly referred to as the Panopticon. Furthermore, life is organized to promote maximum productive efficiency along the lines of the system advocated by the hugely influential F.W. Taylor. People march in step with each other and wear identical clothing. There is no way of referring to people save by their given numbers. Males have odd numbers prefixed by consonants, females have even numbers prefixed by vowels.

    One thousand years after the One State’s conquest of the entire world, the spaceship Integral is being built in order to invade and conquer extraterrestrial planets. Meanwhile, the project’s chief engineer, D-503, begins a journal which he intends to be carried upon the completed Integral.

    Like all other citizens of the One State, D-503 lives in a glass apartment building and is carefully watched by the secret police, or Bureau of Guardians. D-503’s lover, who has been assigned by the One State to visit him on certain nights, is O-90. O-90, who is considered too short to bear children, is deeply grieved by her state in life.

    O-90’s other lover and D-503’s best friend, is R-13, a State poet who reads his verse at public executions.

    While on an assigned walk with O-90, D-503 meets a woman named I-330. I-330 smokes cigarettes, drinks alcohol, and shamelessly flirts with D-503 instead of applying for an impersonal sex visit. All of these are highly illegal according to the laws of the One State.

    Both repelled and fascinated, D-503 struggles to overcome his attraction to I-330. I-330 invites him to visit the Ancient House, notable for being the only opaque building in the One State, except for windows. Objects of aesthetic and historical importance, dug up from around the city, are stored there. There, I-330 offers him the services of a corrupt doctor in order to explain his absence from work. Leaving in horror, D-503 vows to denounce her to the Bureau of Guardians, but finds that he cannot.

    He begins to have dreams at night, which disturbs him, as dreams are thought to be a symptom of mental illness. Slowly, I-330 reveals to D-503 that she is involved with the MEPHI, an organization plotting to bring down the One State. She takes him through secret tunnels inside the Ancient House to the world outside the Green Wall which surrounds the city-state. There, D-503 meets the inhabitants of the outside world: humans whose bodies are covered with animal fur. The aims of the MEPHI are to destroy the Green Wall and reunite the citizens of the One State with the outside world.

    Despite the recent rift between them, O-90 pleads with D-503 to impregnate her illegally. After O-90 insists that she will obey the law by turning over their child to be raised by the One State, D-503 obliges. However, as her pregnancy progresses, O-90 realizes that she cannot bear to be parted from her baby under any circumstances. At D-503’s request, I-330 arranges for O-90 to be smuggled outside of the Green Wall.

    In his last journal entry, D-503 indifferently relates that he has been forcibly tied to a table and subjected to the “Great Operation” (similar to a lobotomy),[3] which has recently been mandated for all citizens of the One State. This operation removes the imagination and emotions by targeting parts of the brain with x-rays. After this operation, D-503 willingly informed the Benefactor about the inner workings of the MEPHI. However, D-503 expresses surprise that even torture could not induce I-330 to denounce her comrades. Despite her refusal, I-330 and those arrested with her are sentenced to death, “under the Benefactor’s Machine.”

    Meanwhile, the MEPHI uprising gathers strength; parts of the Green Wall have been destroyed, birds are repopulating the city, and people start committing acts of social rebellion. Although D-503 expresses hope that the Benefactor shall restore “reason,” the novel ends with the One State’s authority in doubt. A repeated mantra in the novel is that there is no final revolution.

  • By maximo ramos, May 9, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

    If you demand a “definition” of dehumanization? Then you are beyond all hope.

  • By david r. jones, May 10, 2012 @ 5:26 am

    this is a very simple and logical equation : transhumanism = dehumanization.

  • By Valkyrie Ice, May 10, 2012 @ 8:26 am

    Xenophobia is defined as “a fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange.”[1] It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning “stranger,” “foreigner” and φόβος (phobos), meaning “fear.”[2]
    Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity.[3] Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an “uncritical exaltation of another culture” in which a culture is ascribed “an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality”.[4]

    Dictionary definitions of xenophobia include: deep-rooted antipathy towards foreigners (Oxford English Dictionary; OED), unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar, especially people of other races (Webster’s)[5]

    In the general sense, Xenophobia is “Fear of that which is different”, and while generally this applies to things which are “foreign” such as people of other cultural origins, it also applies to a fear of change, a fear of the unknown, and a fear of anything unfamiliar. As such, you fit this definition perfectly.

    And Mr. Jones. Please explain to me how a world in which every human is free to express their own personal desires in any manner that they chose, with the ability to become anything they chose, and to have every basic animal need met effortlessly so that they may concentrate the totality of their attention on the pursuit of their own individual happiness is “dehumanizing?” Do you perhaps define humanity as suffering? Or perhaps you believe that denying every human an equal chance to reach their own individual fullest potential (whether they actually seek to reach it or not at their own choice) is “humanizing?”

    Our present world is one in which no-one can “win” unless they force MASSIVE numbers of others to “lose”. The world I discuss is one in which anyone could “win” (if they choose to) WITHOUT having to deny anyone else their own personal chance at “winning”. A true ACCOUNTABLE society has little need of laws, or government, and none at all for a “Big Brother”, because it would have no PARASITES using secrecy to hide actions that cause serious harm to other members of the human race solely to promote their own “status”.

    However, I doubt that any actual attempt to explain how such a society is the most likely result of the current trends in technological and political and social evolution is going to penetrate that preconception you have of “socialism” created by unaccountable systems of control designed to promote the parasites’ interests above those of the rest of the human race. Still, if you are willing to challenge your preconceptions, I recommend reading my fuller discussion of the role of government in an accountable society: as well as “God Want’s You Dead” to understand how ideological fallacies are used to deceive people into acting against their own interests and behave as “disposable agents” for parasitical memeplexes.

  • By maximo ramos, May 10, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

    You have already admitted your own ‘brave new world’ requires that all humans give up _all_ privacy. This alone of your many perverse notions is monstrously, gigantically dehumanizing. I was born dirt poor. I suffered child hood malnutrition in a 3rd world environment. I worked hard. I moved. I make 100k USD now annually. And I will never support technocratic socialism. I read my Aldous Huxley, and you should too.

    “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  • By Valkyrie Ice, May 10, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

    No Max, I have stated that we will have to give up the ability to have SECRECY. Privacy is something that we humans grant to each other by choice. If you actually have come from a “dirt poor” past, then you should understand that concept. Crowd people into a barracks and they can still give one another privacy even though not one of them can conceal any action or activity from one another. Why? Because “Privacy” is a social process. Do you listen in to the table next to you at a restaurant? Do you look at the dick of the guy pissing next to you in a public restroom? No. Why? Because YOU MAKE A CHOICE TO GIVE THAT PERSON PRIVACY, at least, you do so long as you are a mature human being.

    Privacy is a social choice. Secrecy is a tool used by parasites to avoid being held to account for their actions which harm others,and which would lead to loss of social status and possible eviction from the society if those actions were known to all.

    And I’ve read Huxley. Found it to be a rather pedantic and dull book that made the same basic assumptions you do, i.e. that accountability will not be enforced equally across all levels of society, but will instead be enforced only for some, while the highest elites will remain unaccountable. It’s this basic assumption that full transparency falsifies. And since EVERYTHING else you argue about is based on this false assumption, nothing you have to say has any validity, but merely reflects your fear and paranoia regarding a future that you have no actual comprehension of.

    An accountable society has no need of “Big Brother” or a massive “government” enforcing numerous laws because ALL MEMBERS OF THAT SOCIETY, regardless of “status” know that ANY ACTIONS that cause harm to others will be held to account by the rest of society, and therefore have NO INCENTIVE to engage in those activities, and indeed, be highly motivated to avoid parasitical and harmful behaviors because there are no potential benefits, only penalties.

    So “resist” all you wish. But please, do actually try to comprehend that you are arguing against your own fears and misunderstandings, and that I am neither advocating “technocratic socialism” as you appear to assume, nor claiming that total transparency will eliminate “Privacy”. I am simply pointing out the inevitable reality that the human race will have no choice but to become accountable and mature, and abandon unaccountable and self-destructive behaviors that serve only to allow a tiny minority of the species to benefit at the expense of everyone else.

  • By maximo ramos, May 13, 2012 @ 5:59 am

    You are mis-using the term ‘pedantic’. It does not mean what you think it means.

  • By Valkyrie Ice, May 13, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

    pe·dan·tic   [puh-dan-tik] Show IPA
    ostentatious in one’s learning.
    overly concerned with minute details or formalisms, especially in teaching.

    In this case, a book which is overly heavy handed in its preachy and ponderous “message” including minute details of the “system” and “society” which he is portraying negatively in order to emphasize how undesirable it would be.

    Now, do I need to continue to demonstrate that I have a much broader vocabulary than you do, are or you done with the pathetic attempts to side-rail the discussion?

  • By R.U. Sirius, May 13, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

    Indeed. And that’ll be the last word.

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