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


For what it’s worth, I am assuming that Amazon’s announcement is pure vaporware for publicity buzz. I can’t imagine that they’d get either FAA approval or insurance coverage for this idea much before 2025, if that soon.

I’m sure once Amazon starts actually doing this dozens of people who hold every imaginable patent on this will suddenly start appearing from the woodwork.

This is one of those problems that wasn’t hard to imagine, but is very difficult to actually implement, which makes it a potential minefield for patent issues.

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.


Lighter-than-air craft are also less likely to hurt someone should they suffer a mechanical failure, unless they suffer catastrophic envelope failure. And even then, the Hindenburg actually descended fairly slowly…

Unfortunately, due to the needed bulk, they tend to fly slowly too. On the other hand, they might be more fuel efficient. On the other other hand, people are still a bit paranoid about hydrogen, and there’s less helium available than I’d like.

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.


Post on boing boing dec 2012 with a “working” drone delivery system.

So, it took you four days to remember that?

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

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The point is that this artifact was specifically about Amazon having such a service.

Years ago part of my job was replying to constituent letters proposing “innovative” transport solutions to problems that usually didn’t exist - micro-pod-trams; ubiqutious monorails; nuclear bus-train hybrids etc that folks would send to their local politicians. Our benchmark was the long hoped-for cable-drawn zeppelin system, but to no avail.

My question is, “did you predict the future , or create it?”

Institute for the Future must address this frequently, right? I’ve often wondered how many inventions are inspired by sic-fi; and later we look back and say “Gee, so-and-so was really prescient”.

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)


I, for one, welcome the Nintendo Phone, where signal strength is measured in triforce.

Even better, the buttons look like last generation iOS – maybe they’ll become retro or something in the future.

Also, I’m glad to see the future still has Evernote. That’s encouraging.

One on-target prediction is nice, but what matters is the ability to accurately predict over a large number of situations. It’s not too hard to find some prognosticator who can predict the stock market performance for a single day; what’s really hard is to find someone who can do day in and day out for a year.

Any sense of how accurate the IFTF is overall, say over 1000 predictions? That’s a statistic that will prove their ability one way or the other.

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I’m curious if this is a case of the Institute for the Future predicting something, or if it’s a case of an idea floating around the “collective unconscious” as it were… Another example most of us are probably familiar with–Star Trek “predicting” the form factor of Apple Devices. I’m not sure we can see that as a case of predicting as much as Star Trek was creating what we’d imagine a future would look like, and designers at Apple having those ideas floating around in their heads already when they started to think of designs for their products. So, it’s kind of a chicken and an egg thing, right?

I really should read through all the comments before I comment, because I just said this very same thing, essentially! :wink:

“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

attibuted to Mark Twain (among many others)

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