Can Jeff Bezos and save the world?

Can Jeff Bezos and save the world?

In the midst of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the PT Barnum of the ecommerce world announced plans to deliver items purchased online via drones.

Of course, I am speaking of Jeff Bezos and his franchise’s plan to use drones to deliver items to the home.


This concept has received no shortage of coverage in the media, along with its fair share of skepticism.

Amazon’s drone delivery concept is wholly unique, novel and entertaining. Of course, it’s also currently illegal, impractical and without any definite short-term plans.

Many are quick to dismiss the concept as a publicity stunt, and to the extent that Amazon drone delivery gets any real media coverage, it conjures a dark concept of unmanned vehicles doing dark, secret dirty work.

But what if the concept is real? What if it becomes a legal possibility and a physical reality? What then…?


It’s hard to remember, but when first launched, it was merely an online book store. Bezos quickly expanded to CDs and VHS tapes (remember those?), and even served as the “digital mall” for brick and mortar stores like Toys R Us.

It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time when no one bought anything online, and few companies even seriously considered the idea that consumers would be willing to whip out their credit cards to make a purchase through a computer.

Amazon changed all of that by legitimizing ecommerce, building trust, transforming the reality of shopping and developing the massive infrastructure to enable the purchase and delivery of items online. That infrastructure has become so robust that Amazon also earns a hefty profit reselling its excess computing power through a series of enterprise cloud applications.

Web 2.0 giants like Netflix and Dropbox run on Amazon’s cloud services.


I’m not saying all of this is good. Many point out Amazon’s less than happy work place policies and blame the retail giant for destroying local businesses; I’m not here to comment on that—just to point out that the company legitimized and built new businesses along with the infrastructure to support them.

So what does this all have to do with drones? One out of seven people on earth are inaccessible by roads. Another billion or so are inaccessible by road for part of the year.


What if Amazon’s drone service could provide the infrastructure necessary to reach these people? What if Amazon could do for disaster recover what it has done for small business owners who operate on the platform or large companies like Netflix and Dropbox who operate on Amazon’s cloud platform?

Imagine the ability to rapidly deploy a fleet of drones to deliver medicine, food and teaching supplies to remote villages in the developing world. Imagine a world where Amazon drones assemble to deliver aid to places like the Philippians following a natural disaster.

These are all good things, and to the extent that they may seem a bit far fetched, just think back to the time when people joked about swiping a credit card through a computer’s CD-ROM drive to buy stuff online.

It’s an idea worth thinking about…

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