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Column: Rethink the Amazon Drones hype

In My Opinion

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 17:12

Kevin O’sullivan

The Maroon

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN: In My Opinion

The new hype all over Facebook is the announced Amazon drone delivery, PrimeAir. Most are excited for super fast shipping and technological progress. I, however, am much more skeptical.

The announcement was an over-exaggerated use of rhetoric to further a marketing campaign prior to the Cyber-Monday deals- a campaign that obviously paid off.

Amazon received a 62 percent increase in online traffic on Cyber-Monday, however, they’ve received lasting publicity for an idea that won’t be realistically available until around 2020, when the Federal Aviation Administration clears them for commercial drone use.

What the advertisement for the drone does not say, is that the drone can only carry a package that is five pounds or less and the customer must live within ten miles of an Amazon fulfillment center, the nearest of which for New Orleans residents, is in San Antonio, more than 500 miles away.

I am not too comfortable with the commercial use of drones. I’m not even comfortable with the use of drones period.

In a society of surveillance, why commend a business for launching an army of flying, autonomous computers?

By a society of surveillance I mean that the phones in our pockets are constantly traceable via GPS, our phone calls, texts, emails are markedly monitored by the NSA, and every purchase we make with plastic is logged into a database so that our shopping history and movement can be easily tracked.

If this isn’t obviously Orwellian then the media is doing its job by masking the sad reality of things through the guise of efficient consumerism. And we bite. We love it.

The day after Thanksgiving, a day of appreciation and gratitude, is a day of rabid consumerism to the point that people are trampled to death because people want more stuff and more easily.

To quote the movie “God Bless America”, “...why have a society if we are no longer interested in being civil.”

In a society so overly-mediated through advertisements and commercialization it’s nearly impossible for the opinions and ideas of people not to reflect some industry’s agenda.

Everyone loves Amazon, but few people know that in 2011 they were persecuted for running a warehouse with conditions comparable to a sweatshop in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

It’s going to take a lot of work, but we can’t be passive consumers and complacently let things like this slip by without real, outspoken criticism.

Whether Amazon drones really may be able to fly a 5lb package to the doorstep of your house or if this was just a marketing ploy that paid off tremendously, we need to look at these kinds of things critically. ‘Progress’ and expediency may not be all that liberating and we need to recognize when they are not in our best interest.

Kevin O’Sullivan is a philosophy senior and can be contacted at kwosulli@loyno.edu 

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