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Can you use Amazon Prime Now to deliver to homeless people?

Commentary: Video director Rob Bliss wondered whether Amazon would bring essential supplies to people living on the streets. So he tried it.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Using technology to help.

Rob Bliss/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Some people will spend Christmas on the streets. It will be cold and it will be miserable.

Video director Rob Bliss wondered whether he could use modern technology to help. So he walked up to homeless people in New York, asked them what their most immediate needs were and then ordered those things on Amazon Prime Now.

This is the service, currently only in a few cities, that aims to deliver products in two hours or less.

The video he created, now trending strongly on YouTube, shows the service performing as planned. 

The homeless people seemed stunned and grateful that someone had bothered about them, especially with things that were genuinely useful to them.

Bliss insisted on YouTube that Amazon was in no way involved in the project and, indeed, that other services such as Postmates could deliver the same results. 

He told me that it took five days to shoot the footage and that all the homeless people consented to be in the video.

Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. However, Bliss told me: "I've had different Amazon managers and executives reach out with congratulations, nothing from Jeff yet." 

Bliss is the same director who brought the world "10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman." This was the video that showed a woman walking around New York and enduring men's catcalls. 

That video was much admired, but also much parodied. So much so that Bliss worked with TGI Friday's on a parody that elicited some scorn.

This led to the woman in the original video suing Bliss after her image was replaced by various TGI Friday's appetizers. A court sided with Bliss

I asked Bliss what he hoped to achieve with his homeless video.

"Ideally, this video leads to people seeing a new way to give, breaking through the bystander effect that happens when so many people are passing by someone in need," he said.

I wonder if Amazon will ultimately participate in some way.

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