Institute for the Future forecasted Amazon's drone delivery in 2012


At the nonprofit Institute for the Future thinktank where I'm a researcher, we always say, "Never believe anyone who says they can predict the future, especially if they're from California." We don't make point predictions but rather describe future forces we think will have big impacts on the way we live. Sometimes though, IFTF just nails it. The image above is an "Artifact from the Future" that my colleagues Jason Tester and Nic Weidinger created during the fall of 2012, more than a year before Jeff Bezos announced Amazon's drone delivery plans. We use these physical mock-ups and prototypes of imaginary products, objects, and services to make our forecasts more tangible. The above artifact was part of our Future of Coordination research you can check out here. Here's the artifact description:

What if there was a database of every object in the world, and you could rent anything from anybody at any time? A full fledged Internet of Things, coupled with Zamazon’s drone delivery service is the perfect match. When you buy something online, Zamazon shows you the demand for this object in your local area, going rates for daily rental, and how much revenue you can expect to earn from sharing. Back in 2013 we started to see this with car sharing, but the cost of coordination was too high for smaller objects. These days, when you want to borrow a tool from your neighbor, with just the click of a button, a drone will deliver it directly to you.

Previously on BB:

Artifacts from the Future at IFTF

Jason Tester's Case for Human-Future Interaction

Notable Replies

  1. seyo says:

    Uh.... I had this very same idea about five or six years ago. I came up with it after smoking A LOT of weed. My idea involved mini zeppelins instead of drones, because zeppelins are cooler.

  2. A) Amazon has not done a drone delivery, and pretty obviously won't for quite a while.

    B) Vernor Vinge wrote a story "fast times at fairmont high" with drone delivery predicted for 2020 it won a Hugo in 2002, so probably written in 2001 or earlier. I should think that a 'futurist think tank' would be stuffed with people familiar with his writing.

  3. pesco says:

    No, it took me five days to get around to posting it.

  4. Man, nothing screams THE FUTAUAR like... icons on a background.

    That is some next-level UI there.

    (sits in the corner, rocking back and forth, weeping uncontrollably)

Continue the discussion

16 more replies