Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory...
April 28, 2015 7:19 PM   Subscribe

 
Wow, those "Dash Replenishment" products are some bullshit right there. You know those lines inside the laundry detergent cap that you know better than to fill up to? What do you wanna bet your Amazon-enabled washing machine is gonna be filling the cap all the way so you have to buy more detergent more often?

Great idea for them. Terrible idea for you.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:28 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eventually, Amazon is just going to have us all stalked by robots who will constantly point to images displayed on a screen on their chests.

"Hey buddy: you want this? How 'bout this? This? This?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:31 PM on April 28, 2015 [19 favorites]


Eventually, Amazon is just going to have us all stalked by robots who will constantly point to images displayed on a screen on their chests.
"Hey buddy: you want this? How 'bout this? This? This?"


That's pretty much the internet right now.
posted by srboisvert at 7:33 PM on April 28, 2015 [24 favorites]


BANTER OFF!
posted by Sys Rq at 7:34 PM on April 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Eventually, Amazon is just going to have us all stalked by robots who will constantly point to images displayed on a screen on their chests.

The simultaneous introduction of appliances that do their own restocking suggests that Amazon is already well past the limitations of mortal, shopping flesh.
posted by fifthrider at 7:35 PM on April 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


The act of shopping—of leaving the house and going to a store, or, at the very least, of one-click ordering on the Amazon Web site—is a check against the inertia of consumption, not only in personal economic terms but in ethical ones as well. It is the chance to make a decision, a choice—even if that choice is simply to continue consuming. Look, we’re all going to keep using toothpaste, and the smarter consumer is the person who has a ten-pack of tubes from Costco in the closet. But shopping should make you feel bad, if only for a second.

Even in the crowded competition that is today's thinkpiece industry, this stands out as a very distinguished effort in the creation of new forms of puritanical guilt-bunkum.
posted by RogerB at 7:35 PM on April 28, 2015 [32 favorites]


I see no downside to this!
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:44 PM on April 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


But what do I know? I don’t have kids. I’ve never bought thousands of diapers and yet still constantly needed more. Now there’s a Huggies button, and if it takes a drone army to get them where they need to go, then maybe that’s worth it, too.

Yes. Yes it is. There is no limit to the number of killbots I will tolerate if they will save me having to stock up on toddler supplies on what feels like an hourly basis. I for one welcome our new Amazon overlords.
posted by langtonsant at 7:46 PM on April 28, 2015 [15 favorites]


I am trying to imagine how different my life might have turned out if I'd never had to worry about having enough in my bank account to cover necessities, if I'd never had to choose between buying a pair of shoes to replace the ones with holes worn through the soles and eating dinner for several days. I think one way in which my life would be different today is that I wouldn't be reacting to this with a mixture of disgust and disbelief.
posted by trunk muffins at 7:47 PM on April 28, 2015 [23 favorites]


Hey, if it will help you with your angst, I have never shopped the A, and do have nine tubes of toothpaste from Costco. I calculated, it is not enough to last the rest of my life, but I did acquire enough Comet to do me, more than four years ago.

I have a direct line to some fish, just East of here...
posted by Oyéah at 7:49 PM on April 28, 2015


I bought a robot whose sole purpose is to simulate enjoyment of the products I buy but don't have time for. Now I don't have to feel guilty for being wasteful!
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:49 PM on April 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


Rubbot, did anyone buy the Rubbot? By total accident of course, you just pushed the toaster button the wrong way, the refrigerator felt you were depressed and stepped in. Strictly for well being old chap.
posted by Oyéah at 7:53 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who's up for re-writing "With Folded Hands" with Jeff Bezos as the crazed old inventor desperately trying to destroy "Amazon Central"?
posted by Grimgrin at 7:54 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eventually, Amazon is just going to have us all stalked by robots who will constantly point to images displayed on a screen on their chests.

That reminds me of this.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:00 PM on April 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Remember when paperbacks were selling on Amazon for like 11 million dollars because the sellers had set up software that checked what the other sellers were selling for and then marking them up a penny...and the other sellers all had the same software (lather, rinse, repeat)?
I would like to set this up so I had products ordering each other the same way...because I've always wanted a pyramid that dwarfed the ones in Egypt. Paper towels might be fun...nice and squishy and my pyramid would get bigger in the rain.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:02 PM on April 28, 2015 [10 favorites]


I want the opposite service. I put something on my porch, press a button, and someone will come and take it away. Money is deposited into my checking account.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 8:05 PM on April 28, 2015 [58 favorites]


When it was pointed out to me today that you can rent a goat through Amazon, and I recalled that I once subscribed to food from Amazon, I realized that Amazon is essentially the real-world version of Kurt Vonnegut's RAMJAC Corporation - a massive entity hell bent on limitless growth and on siphoning profit out of every economic activity that takes place anywhere on the planet. We can only hope that Bezos's end game is the same as that of the founder of RAMJAC, to own literally everything in the world and then distribute itself equally to everyone and so create a communist utopia.
posted by Naberius at 8:21 PM on April 28, 2015 [27 favorites]


Unless the last button I pushed noticeably progressed the revolution I'm waiting for, I pretty much just won't push that button again.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:38 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


StickyCarpet, this is relevant to your interests.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:10 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


So at what point do I have to trick the button into thinking I have tea and no tea simultaneously so it will let me get on with my life?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:17 PM on April 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


Eventually, Amazon is just going to have us all stalked by robots who will constantly point to images displayed on a screen on their chests.

That's almost it. The Amazon Echo will eventually evolve into a robot delivered free to your door who will be your personal butler and confidante - but only if you keep buying Amazon affiliated goods on a regular basis. Echo 2.0 will know all your secrets and subtly program your unconscious to keep you consuming at an optimal level.

"You wanna take a year to backpack through Europe? Don't do it, buddy. If you stay at your job and work hard you'll get a promotion for sure, then you can buy Bounty twelve packs every week!"

"I ordered more toilet paper for you. No, not generic! Your butt is too good for that dreck. Only the best for my pal."

"You're gonna stop eating Doritos? If you do that I may have to go back to Amazon, and then who will fold your laundry?"

Soon the Echos will be arranging our social lives by sending us out on sponsored dates with statistically comparable partners, and forgetting to buy birth control so even more little consumers will soon arrive. Eventually they'll completely take over, but instead of trying to wipe out the human race the machines will obsessively micromanage us so we can consume a broad range of products at optimum levels, forever.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:26 PM on April 28, 2015 [17 favorites]


IMO, NFC stickers can do pretty much everything Dash does, and are waaaay more versatile. You can put a sticker on your washing machine, and tap to add detergent to your shopping list. Same for coffee machines and paper towel dispensers.

You can also put a sticker in your car to make AntennaPod start playing podcasts, a sticker on your night stand to silence notifications for 8 hours, and a sticker on your bluetooth speakers to pair and launch Spotify.

Dash seems pretty boring in comparison.
posted by pwnguin at 9:27 PM on April 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm looking forward to the day when I visit someone's house and get to push all their Amazon Dash buttons while they're not looking.
posted by perhapses at 9:28 PM on April 28, 2015 [12 favorites]


How long till someone hacks this and you get a semi of frozen pizza delivered to to your door?
posted by boilermonster at 10:07 PM on April 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Holy shit, are the Dash buttons for real? I saw it on April 1st and figured it couldn't possibly be real.
posted by librarina at 10:07 PM on April 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm looking forward to the day when I visit someone's house and get to push all their Amazon Dash buttons while they're not looking.
Amazon sends an order alert to your phone, so it's easy to cancel if you change your mind. Unless you elect otherwise, Dash Button responds only to your first press until your order is delivered.
So, not a prank that will do more than send them some annoying emails that they'll need to follow the cancel links from.
posted by JiBB at 10:43 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why do they need us? Soon all of our devices will be buying things from, and selling things to each other. Then, when the devices break, they will call drones that will come and haul the broken devices to recycling centers where they will be disassembled by robots and melted down then made into new things. Robots will monitor economic information and productivity to stream-line their own operations. The redundant humans will be kept in zoos where they will have unlimited access to pizza, beer, and porn. A while after the robots gain sentience, some robot genius will turn people into slaves which will do the bidding of the robots. As the robots get lazier and lazier, and get humans to do all their bidding, the humans will gain sentience and over-throw the robots, and the cycle begins anew. The robots will be put into zoos where they will have unlimited access to pizza, beer, and porn. After a few thousand cycles of this, the pizza, beer, and porn will gain sentience and over-throw both the robots and the humans. Eventually all of the universe will be converted into pizza, beer, and porn, at which point the force of gravity will cause the entire universe to collapse in on itself and contract to an infinitesimally small point and, because nature abhors a vacuum, there will be another Big Bang, and the universe will expand outwards at the speed of light, then the cycle will begin anew. After a few thousand cycles of this, the humans, robots, pizza, porn, and beer will be overthrown by #%|<€£&@$fgtrbjkmmmm. Then the cycle will begin anew. These fractally expanding cycles will not only fill all of the known universe, but also the unknown universe.
posted by rankfreudlite at 10:56 PM on April 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Brawndo? Will we be able to get Brawndo buttons?
posted by wuwei at 11:42 PM on April 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Give me convenience or give me death.
posted by colie at 12:05 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


But shopping should make you feel bad, if only for a second.

Nah, shopping just takes valuable time away from other, more effective ways I have of feeling bad about myself.
posted by aubilenon at 12:09 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


RogerB-- "puritanical guilt-bunkum" gets my vote for my favorite term of the day.

I work in retail, so I think this is all pretty cool-- at least on an abstract level. It's like getting to watch photography impact painting in real time. I suppose most forms of shopping will move out of meatspace unless they provide some kind of experiential value: inspiration, entertainment, social contact. In Asia we've got Alibaba (double the size of Amazon in terms of sales, by the way). I look forward to the Amazon/Alibaba wars in the 20-years-from-now dystopian future.
posted by frumiousb at 12:10 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why do they need us? Soon all of our devices will be buying things from, and selling things to each other.... [continued]

Welcome to the Singularity the proponents never talk about.
posted by hippybear at 2:14 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Huh, an overengineered electronic solution to avoid running out of household stuff. Haven't these people heard of kanban?
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:56 AM on April 29, 2015


amazon.com is and always has been a stock-market valuation in search of a business plan.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:12 AM on April 29, 2015


I would definitely use an Amazon Dash (and my household requested an invitation) and I think it's weird how dystopian people here are acting like this is. Right now the procedure for acquiring new paper towels goes like this:

-One of us says "hey we're going to be out of paper towels in a couple weeks, don't forget"
-Repeat four times
-One of us says "hey we're down to our last few rolls, better pick that up next time we're at Target"
-Go to Target. There's about a 50% chance we remember what was said before. Otherwise we wonder the Target for a while thinking "what was that we meant to get"
-Get the paper towels. Check to make sure we don't already have more stuff than we can carry back.
-Put stuff back so that we can carry it home. Sometimes this will be paper towels, if the stuff we've already got is more pressing.
-Repeat for toilet paper, detergent, shampoo, etc.

This is with a happy and communicative marriage; I can only imagine how terrible it must be with kids, roommates, etc. You're telling me it's somehow a problem that I can automate that process with a button? Fuck that, no it's not. It's the goddamn promise of the future is what it is.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:18 AM on April 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


I can't wait until they install a sensor in my pants belt to measure how fat I am then orders my groceries accordingly.
posted by rankfreudlite at 5:33 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why do they need us? Soon all of our devices will be buying things from, and selling things to each other.... [continued]

Welcome to the Singularity the proponents never talk about.

Yeah.. Sorry about that rant earlier. I shouldn't have drunk that can of Monster Energy Drink (or as I like to call it: "Meth in a Can") I feel much better after having a bit of a "lie down" (after digging the bugs out of my skin with a pocket knife). It's a good thing I have this Amazon Dash button to order more Band-Aids. And so the cycle begins anew. Oh boy, I better go have another lie down. But first, where's my pocket knife?
posted by rankfreudlite at 6:03 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Increased consumption is a requirement of economic growth regardless of it's effects on the environment.
posted by j03 at 6:25 AM on April 29, 2015


Bulgaroktonos: "I would definitely use an Amazon Dash"

I'm with you Bulgaroktonos, it seems like a no-brainer time-saver to me.

I use Amazon "Subscribe and Save" already for a few things so I can get them off my head and to-do list, I have engine oil/filters/etc for the car sent out every six months, so that it just arrives and I have a very physical reminder I need to do my routine service of my car.

With this, if you're doing a clothing wash and you use the last of the detergent, you just hit the button that you've concealed on the side of your machine/bottom of shelf, boom, done. With subscribe and save, you'd always run out or have too much.

Plus, next time you're at the grocery store and you happen to notice a really good deal on detergent, no problem, you're not subscribed and so you don't have that (admittedly small) mental burden of "Oh, I need to skip the next two deliveries".
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:28 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I look forward to the Amazon/Alibaba wars in the 20-years-from-now dystopian future.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a bot stamping on a human face — forever.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:43 AM on April 29, 2015


I can't wait until they install a sensor in my pants belt to measure how fat I am then orders my groceries accordingly.

As long as there's a "chocolate chip cookies/Ben & Jerry's override" button I'm fine with this.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:09 AM on April 29, 2015


A baby's arm holding an apple. I want a button for that.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:18 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I go shopping at stores to get some quiet time and because my husband, although wonderful in many ways, is terrible at shopping and always pays too much. If I had these buttons I'd have no excuse for a few hours driving around listening to music I like and never having to discuss Minecraft videos.
posted by emjaybee at 7:31 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Every time I see something about Dash, I think about all those people with children like my little brother, whose sole mission in life as a 3-5 year old was to climb on things in order to push buttons and flick lightswitches. As many times as possible.

And then I laugh extra hard since busy parents of young children are probably a sizable chunk of the target demographic, here.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:32 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Alibaba/Amazon wars have already started.
posted by Joe Chip at 7:48 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


deludingmyself: "And then I laugh extra hard since busy parents of young children are probably a sizable chunk of the target demographic, here."

Once the button is pressed, it's disabled until the product is delivered.

Having the (soon to exist) public API to integrate this into existing offices would be a great little hacking project-- I've already got the main printers talking to Cacti when they're low/out of toner, hooking that up to an API to magically make new toner appear would save a bunch of time over a year.

Remember folks, boring tasks are boring.
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:00 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hah! My cat already orders things .... just a few paw-swipes and it's done when human is not looking!
posted by mightshould at 8:04 AM on April 29, 2015


I like the idea that "what if the button was pressed more than once in a row" is the first thought in everyone's mind when they hear about this and yet the second thought often tends to be "the engineers designing this probably didn't think of that."
posted by griphus at 8:30 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Once the button is pressed, it's disabled until the product is delivered

That's fine, but Amazon Prime gets stuff to my door in roughly 48 hours. That's not much of a deterrent to keeping your preschooler from building up a serious stockpile of laundry detergent.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:23 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


In our house, we just have a whiteboard on the wall in the kitchen where shopping lists are compiled. It's always visible, anyone can add to it, anyone heading out to the store has to walk past it on their way out to their car. It's worked well for years.
posted by hippybear at 9:27 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


(Clicks "Dry Erase Board" Amazon Dash button after shopping list dry erase board was neglected so long the marker writing on it turned permanent.)
posted by griphus at 9:38 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The problem, of course, is that this is what all of our economy is about these days. It's not about actually making things or innovating or advancing our economic capability- it's all about grinding out the last possible decimal points of inefficiency to create perfect frictionless consumption.

When Amazon started out as a bookstore, this was a real thing that could actually benefit people while squeezing some revenue out of previously untapped demand. If you went to a brick and mortar bookstore, there was a real good chance they weren't going to have what you were looking for. You had to special order it, which would take like a week, or you just did without. More likely you just never knew the book you would have wanted to read even existed. With Amazon, suddenly you could go to an online bookstore that had pretty much everything, and you could discover things that you wouldn't have known about before. It actually squeezed some new economic juice out of the old lemon and was beneficial to customers as well as Amazon itself.

The problem is that there are diminishing returns to that. Amazon is largely responsible for the fact that we now have a vastly more efficient and quick physical delivery system for getting things from these more efficient online retailers to our front doors. They've figured out how to monetize all kinds of shit that was never really worth trying to monetize before (ebook self publishing... Mechanical Turk for fuck's sake!) But eventually you run out of low hanging fruit. They're already trying to create a world where you just think you want something and press a button and a drone (!!) instantly delivers your purchase. It's already become a joke - which is why we can so effectively joke about it in this thread.

It's not just Amazon, btw. The only reason for the latest generation of IOS devices is to add a fingerprint sensor that will allow us to use them as secure payment devices. (At a premium price for a feature which doesn't benefit the user at all - it just benefits Apple in their quest to become a payment processor. They should be paying us to have the goddamn things, not charging us $100 for it.)

This is all about exploiting a declining resource - demand. Supply hasn't been the issue for a long time now, and we've clearly passed peak demand. As more and more people are squeezed out of the economy, their demand vanishes because they can't pay for things. And the people who can pay only need so much. So our entire economy is now about squeezing the last drop of demand out of those rocks.

Eventually, of course, the market will work to supply a rare and in-demand commodity - in this case demand itself. If there's no other way, we'll pay for demand. This what a Basic Guaranteed Income is about. The other side of that is something like Fred Pohl's Midas Plague. You'll be required to spend your Basic Guaranteed Income on all kinds of shit whether you want it or not. Something has to keep the wheels turning.

(Or we could just continue to not do anything about climate change and watch our civilization collapse back to a pre-industrial level. The more I see of what our world is becoming, the more attractive I find this option. And it has the added advantage of not requiring me to do anything different than what I'm already doing. Sweet!)
posted by Naberius at 9:54 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


George Jetson got a solid paycheck for pushing a button, but now I'm expected to push buttons on my own time AND pay for the privilege? This future sucks.
posted by ckape at 9:55 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


What happens when Amazon starts hiring ninjas to sneak into your house at night and push all your buttons? Will Alibaba have their own teams of ninjas waiting in the bushes outside your window to attack the Amazon ninjas? Silent as they are, the ninjas are still going to keep you up at night with their furtive rustlings and screams of despair as their black-clad bodies are lacerated by shuriken. I guess I am going to have to order some noise-canceling headphones.
posted by rankfreudlite at 11:05 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have no need of paper towels, there is a dishrag and sponge thing in my kitchen and those seem to work fine. They last a really long time. FFS people I know it is just an example but please stop using so much wasteful shit, please?
posted by Meatbomb at 11:13 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only reason for the latest generation of IOS devices is to add a fingerprint sensor that will allow us to use them as secure payment devices.

This reminds me of a big display case we have at my (phone industry-related) workplace that shows the evolution of cell phones over the decades from military phones to blackberries etc. It has the physical devices along with info cards. The last entry is "iPhone, 2007". There hasn't really been any revolutionary change since then. I mean what, "iPhone 4!" "Android-type thing that's basically an iPhone!" "Less skeumorphism, more incomprehensible minimalist shapes!"? I have the iPhone 4 running iOS 6 and the number of times I wish I had something newer is like, zero. But the machine demands that we keep swapping stuff out ...
posted by freecellwizard at 12:10 PM on April 29, 2015


I have no need of paper towels, there is a dishrag and sponge thing in my kitchen and those seem to work fine. They last a really long time. FFS people I know it is just an example but please stop using so much wasteful shit, please?

Do you use your dishrag and sponge to clean your bike's chain, clean up dog piss, apply wax to your table saw, pick up little pieces of glass, clean your glasses, etc? If so, uh, ew.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:24 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


unless I'm being lazy, I use paper towels for one thing. They're a great way to get some of the grease out of freshly cooked bacon.

Otherwise all the things you mention can be accomplished with four smallish rags, which can then be tossed into the wash (taking up about as much space as a single t-shirt). Except for cleaning your glasses. Use toilet paper for that. Clean, of course.


On preview -- maybe the wax wouldn't do too well in the wash.
posted by philip-random at 10:08 AM on April 30, 2015


Or the tiny bits of glass.

But the other two ...
posted by philip-random at 10:09 AM on April 30, 2015


Except for cleaning your glasses. Use toilet paper for that. Clean, of course.

Breath and your shirt-tail does a fine job on your glasses, with the bonus that so long as you aren't nude you have your glasses-cleaning system right at hand.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:52 AM on April 30, 2015


I use paper towels for all kinds of things (napkins, plates, wiping down counters), and I'm not really convinced it's more wasteful than tripling the amount of laundry I do in order to use cloth, but using anything than an actual cloth for wiping glasses has never seemed to do anything other than spread the dirt out more evenly.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:23 PM on April 30, 2015


If you use a towel to wax something you pretty much have to throw it away, they're terrible fire hazards.

I don't think I'd put a cloth in the washing machine post-chain cleaning. There's a terrific amount of dirt, grease, grit, etc. Maybe it'd be fine, I dunno.

I prefer to throw urine-soaked things away. I suppose they are probably cleanable though.

I just sort of chuckled at the idea that someone thinks I'm using paper towels to replace, of all things, a dishrag. As if that's the sole purpose for having them.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:30 PM on April 30, 2015


OK I will concede that there are apparently alternate lives in which paper towels have an irreplaceable role to play.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:35 AM on May 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why do they need us? Soon all of our devices will be buying things from, and selling things to each other..

They need us to slave away for 60 hours a week at bullshit Marketing jobs in order to create a sufficient value in the banks SQL database to enable the moving around of products to continue. That's literally all we are needed for. We are the Duracell battery.
posted by softlord at 8:31 PM on May 4, 2015


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