All those Amazon drones: Will they block the sun?

How realistic is it that millions of drones will be flying around delivering our toasters? Or, is this just a fine Cyber Monday ad?

Incoming Gladwell. CBS News screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Boys like things that fly.

But I couldn't help thinking that Jeff Bezos's startling revelation of Amazon's octocopters on "60 Minutes" this weekend was made to help products fly from Amazon's virtual shelves on Cyber Monday.

Those with technical minds and a grasp of Federal Aviation Administration regulations will intone portentously on the legal feasibility of such an enterprise.

I'm more interested in the sort of world we might be living in if Amazon's little buzzards will be flying around delivering toasters and Arcade Fire CDs to those in urgent need.

I'm all for disrupting the way of doing things. But sometimes, when your neighbor disrupts your peace with his lawn mower, it can be frightfully annoying.

So I'm trying to imagine a time when there are, quite literally, millions of these drones flying around every day.

After all, Amazon's aim is to deliver all things to all people all the time.

But I couldn't help feeling a little shiver in several places when Bezos told Charlie Rose: "We like to go down dark alleys and see what's on the other side."

Well, quite often it's a few tipsy people who might be doing marginally illegal things and who will be very annoyed if you disturb them by walking down the dark alley.

I can't help believing that many of us will be delighted the first time a drone buzzes down and feeds our minds with a copy of "The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification."

Equally, I can't help believing that when hundreds of these things waft above our houses on a daily basis, we will invest in AR-15s for a very new purpose.

Bezos insisted to Rose that "complaining is not a strategy." Shooting on sight -- or standing your ground, as it's sometimes called -- might be.

If these drones would be capable, as Bezos insists, of delivering 86 percent of the things that are ordered on Amazon, I sense of period of "get off my lawn's airspace" coming to a subdivision near you.

Moreover, as those fine and swift Taiwanese animators have already wondered (video above) there might be all sorts of other consequences that have yet to be imagined by the dronemeisters.

"These things can't land on somebody's head," said Bezos, evincing a charming belief that everything is technologically solvable.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," he added. Fun, though, has so many definitions.

When there's a constant tinnitus from drones delivering cabbages and the sun is thinner and more diffuse than a drunkard's thoughts, you might think it's less fun than you hoped.

Some things might, though, stay the same.

If the drones are as overworked as the humans who currently deliver packages, we might still enjoy iPads being dropped from a height, or flung toward our doorsteps with cheery abandon.

 

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