There was Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, doing it again, with a
big smile, an easy laugh and another great idea. This time it was on "60
Minutes," and he surprised interviewer Charlie Rose with the unveiling of his Amazon Prime Air
delivery concept, complete with autonomous, flying delivery drones. Order
something that weighs less than 5 pounds and an Amazon Prime Air drone, tapped into your GPS
coordinates, will deliver it--like a stork with a baby--in 30 minutes.
Amazon Prime Time
And there, with the timely precision of a Swiss watch, was a
huge media and Twitter backlash--everyone doing their best Eeyore impression and
trying to shoot the idea out of the sky. (Eeyore,
if you're unfamiliar, is a gray, sad, depressed, chronically pessimistic donkey pictured left in the Winnie the Pooh books).
Seriously. What is wrong with people?
The Amazon Prime Air demo
alone is just amazing, even in an era where amazing technology pops up every
day. But the concept (video embedded below) is even more mind-blowing. (I've been marveling about the
possibilities for two years since we
interviewed an engineer at Rockwell Collins on the subject of autonomous
And yet the media reaction, the Twitter tizzy skewed
pessimistic, even dismissive.
No less than my beloved alma mater EE Times-at the vanguard of covering
a wary eye.
As humans, we tend to suffer from optimism bias (believing
you're at less risk in a given situation than others) at the same time we tend
to think pessimistically. Pessimism in some contexts is understandable, since
it protects us from risks that might hurt us. But it also stunts innovation. Avoid
risk and you'll never see that amazing invention. You don't learn if you don't
Of course we shouldn't be Pollyannaish, but you'd think we
as a culture would get increasingly optimistic in the way we view the world,
the way we approach innovation.
Why? Because the technology we create and the rapidity with
which we introduce it is nothing short of magic. It's never been seen in the
history of the world.
And yet when a technology exists today (autonomous
octocopters controlled wirelessly and tied into the Internet of Things) and an
entrepreneur offers a vision for exploiting that technology, we have this weird
We're missing the story. The story is this: Technology's no longer
the barrier. The barrier, in this case, is regulatory issues. OK. Fine. Let's
figure that out. But the barrier is also the human struggle to embrace change
As kids, we'd sit in a summer field and gaze up at the clouds
and imagine the possibilities and dream big wispy dreams and wish for magic to enable
those dreams. And as adults, now that the magic is at our fingertips, we've
lost the ability to dream.
Well, certainly not Jeff Bezos.
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