The same robots that are used to kill and spy on people will, in the next few years, be able to deliver that DVD copy of the entire series run of “Gilmore Girls” you’ve been itching to get your hands on.
On the latest episode of “60 Minutes,” Amazon revealed that it was working on technology that will deploy drones to deliver people’s items within 30 minutes. It calls the service “Amazon Prime Air,” and it will deploy small robot helicopters from its numerous warehouses to deliver goods directly to customers.
Never mind that this will be yet another modern job that eschews the type of general labor that is the backbone of the middle class in favor of highly-technical work that requires a series of degrees many can’t afford to get — it’s part of the furthering anti-social streak that runs through the human condition circa the end of this year of our lord, 2013.
It sounds like bad Science Fiction but it may be where we end up — a world of robot-human symbiosis where it’s no longer required for humans to leave the house, let alone open their mouths to speak to any other person. Instead we’ll have Facebook apps downloaded directly into our brains and we’ll watch each other’s memories like we watch reality shows.
We’re in danger of becoming a world full of people totally connected but still in a perpetual state of isolation from the outside world.
Most everyone has the experience now of being at a ballgame, or a restaurant, or a movie and taking that quick moment to observe the people around them and realizing that the family next to them is all looking at their electronic devices at the same time.
This sight is so common now as to be a part of what I like to, quite unoriginally, call the “new normal.”
The drive to break up any social activity is so strong as to be contagious. If you enjoy people watching, observe a group of friends talking and wait until the first person pulls out their phone. What you will see is that within moments, the others in the group will follow suit.
You can see it every time you fly on a plane — travelers now prefer to shut down and watch a movie on their laptop then taking the opportunity to get to know a stranger.
People together but alone.
It may seem strange to suggest that devices that seem to keep us so close together can tear us apart, but it extends beyond mere social contact into the realm of the personal.
All this technology and all this instant access to information has caused another phenomenon that will most likely continue to spread — a disease I like to call being-a-self-centered-jerk syndrome.
Not only can we isolate ourselves physically, we can isolate ourselves emotionally when the only reality we have access to is the one we create every day virtually. When you only hear music you like, or watch the movies you like, or talk to the people you like or read opinions you like or eat at restaurants you like — well, you lose something: some sense of adventure or tests of your character or opinions.
Instead, you walk around all day inflated on your own sense of the world — created by the unearned ability to pick and choose what reality suits you best. A reality it takes no effort or work to find.
If a person is liberal, they can go to liberalopinions.com or conservatives can go to conservativeopinions.com (both sites being hypothetical, of course). Instead of gathering all relevant information and forming an opinion based on reasoned analysis, a couple clicks and one can find an opinion without thinking whatsoever.
And these problems will only get worse, as technology improves. Phones will get better — more immersive and better looking. With each new iPhone, mankind’s gaze will be drawn further downward and away from the rest of the world.
And when Amazon Prime Air is operational, don’t think for a second that it won’t lead to less people leaving the house. More things will eventually be delivered in this fashion: food, for instance. Pizza delivery by way of car may become an obsolete practice.
And maybe this is all a good thing. Less gas used, less people driving, less carbon emissions being put into the atmosphere.
But we as humans run the risk of fulfilling the “WALL-E” prophecy.
That would be a race of people who spend their whole lives in chairs indoors — depending on the chairs to cater to our every whim.
Smart phones may be the most revolutionary innovation since fire as it’s hard to say that any thing else has captivated and commanded so much attention since the caveman days.
While it seems great that they can do so much for us, it’s time to remember to look up every once and awhile.
It will become doubly important once the Amazon drones are online — one may bump you on the head as it passes.