Shall we make life easier yet?

by on April 2, 2017 at 3:16 am in Economics, Web/Tech | Permalink

Frictionlessness encourages bad habits. For those who resent the time suck of 1-click ordering, Domino’s has pioneered “zero-click” pizza-buying. Simply open the app and, after ten seconds, it automatically places a pre-set order. Domino’s competitors are working on a “direct-to-mouth” drone-delivery service that will send individual slices of pizza into your home via an electronic flap. Pizza experts are seeking ways around the “chewing bottleneck”.

Payments are also subject to facile externality. Three in five Britons say they spend more with a wave of the plastic than they would with cash. Ordering goods using Alexa, a voice-activated assistant, is as easy as saying its name. Tech firms are working on gesture-controlled devices that could enable payments with just a furtive glance of desire.

That is from The Economist, and the pointer is from Tyro.

1 Lurker April 2, 2017 at 3:33 am

Innovative technology to separate me from my money?

Who’d of thought???

2 CapTVK April 2, 2017 at 4:13 am

Late april fool?

3 Sam Taylor April 2, 2017 at 8:57 am

It was printed in the April 1 issue, so it was on time actually.

4 Canaan Christ April 2, 2017 at 10:16 pm

I feel pretty certain this is an April Fools joke. It appears in the Leaders section of the 4/1/17 issue, but does not point to any other article within the issue. Also, every article I have found from an admittedly cursory Google search for “facile externality” cites this essay as it’s source material.

5 dan1111 April 3, 2017 at 8:30 am

It’s clearly an April Fool’s. Even more clear from the entire article than the quote.

I think Tyler expected us to get the joke.

6 Dan Lavatan-Jeltz April 2, 2017 at 4:19 am

I already patented a device that just orders everything you see in order to obtain venture capital funding for my new business that always loses money, we IPO next week.

The problem with cash is that the savings comes in the form of change, which can only be used in Ecuador. It also takes to long to figure out how much you spend, so they probably just gave up keeping track and reported however much they spent when they quit.

7 So Much For Subtlety April 2, 2017 at 5:48 am

The first practical example of AI will be an app that saves you from even opening it. It will detect from subtle clues in your person and immediate environment what you want for dinner and will order without you even asking.

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in’t!

8 So Much For Subtlety April 2, 2017 at 6:01 am

And then, of course, the AI will torture you for all eternity because you didn’t not open it earlier.

9 Troll Me April 2, 2017 at 10:02 am

That would be my main concern about such devices.

For example, if you think the wrong free thought, it might automatically adjust to always order the things that are most bothersome to you. Until sufficient deference to the freedom to think like me has been demonstrated convincingly.

“What really happened was A. Not B. Now you don’t want to be crazy do you? Crazy people think B happens. Another month of green eggs and ham for you! You will learn, and then we will ride you. For your own good, of course. Because we love you.”

10 Axa April 2, 2017 at 6:03 am

Real men only eat the meat of animals they hunt…….

11 rayward April 2, 2017 at 7:21 am

Of course, the bad habits are the impulse buying that frictionless ordering encourages. Amazon is in a league by itself! All it takes is one click and, viola, it’s yours. Indeed, one gets the feeling that it’s free. And with Amazon, the world is your oyster! Regulating Wall Street is a waste of time and resources. What the government needs to do is prohibit frictionless ordering. We are already too fat and too much in debt, much of it the result of frictionless ordering. If anything, buying stuff should be a pain in the ass so we would have larger bank balances instead of larger asses.

12 Robert McGregor April 2, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Does anyone get the feeling that a tremendous amount of capital, labor, and brainpower are spent figuring out improved ways to phish and manipulate people out of their money, instead of working to solve mankind’s urgent problems? I wonder what system it is that encourages that?

13 Apso April 2, 2017 at 8:02 pm

I believe it was referred to as Communism, and they used guns mostly.

14 Edward Burke April 2, 2017 at 7:42 am

Forget “smartphones”: Tech Idiocy is the name of the game.

15 David Siegel April 2, 2017 at 9:08 am

Ah yes, the old dead-man’s pizza switch, in case you are being chased by the mafia but need a bite on the run.

16 Thiago Ribeiro April 2, 2017 at 10:19 am

Such is life in Trump’s America (and May’s England). Woe to you, America.

17 The Other Jim April 2, 2017 at 9:44 pm

>Such is life in Trump’s America

Hey, at least the food is good!

18 Bill April 2, 2017 at 10:22 am


Open Marginal Revolution

Read aloud the post

Open comment section


19 Mark April 2, 2017 at 1:19 pm

But she’ll never read past your comment…

20 Bill April 2, 2017 at 5:44 pm

That’s because she has artificial intelligence.

21 Stuart April 2, 2017 at 10:26 am

The onion way ahead of the game again

22 Hook April 2, 2017 at 11:19 am

Because it takes to long to work out April Fool’s anagrams by hand:

My favorite is A Livid Sponsor.

23 Edgar April 2, 2017 at 11:47 am

“But the market cannot solve this problem on its own. As Mr Rossi says, only government can properly defend the cause of inefficiency.”
-but of course. Thank god for the rule of philosopher kings: they can always come up with a bluer sky to which the proles can be made to sacrifice. And the imperial “we” in “Shall we make life easier yet?” Priceless. As if anyone concerned with “facile externality” ever contributed a lick to consumer well being. It may surprise the GMU economics department, but the untutored, unwashed deplorables are often times capable of making consumption decisions in their own interests, despite the inability of academics to understand the reasoning.

24 Jim April 2, 2017 at 12:51 pm

The “chewing bottleneck” is a real thing. For decades, fast food has been making their products to require less and less chewing. If you take a burger and bun vs the same amount of steak and baguette, one slides down while the other takes time and energy. Plus of course the delivery of calories through smoothies, shakes, colas, and energy drinks, which take no effort at all, like the liquid cupcakes in WALL-E.

25 Mark April 2, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Disproving the thesis that people question what they read on the web on April 1.

26 The Other Jim April 2, 2017 at 9:43 pm

A 4/1 joke obviously, but I’m willing to forgive those who were fooled, given this site’s absurd insistence that you or your children will ever go to work in a driverless car.

I think that a post saying Alex T died tripping over the border crossing might have been more effective.

27 Islander April 2, 2017 at 11:05 pm

So robots take the delivery drivers job, the cashier’s job, probably the pizza baker’s and cleaning staff jobs too. Ditto for farming to make flour, transporting raw materials etc. We’re heading for a future where we can deliver fresh pizzas on a whim but no one has a job to afford to pay.

Maybe Basic Income isn’t such a bad idea after all.

28 dan1111 April 3, 2017 at 8:35 am

Sounds like a future in which pizza is extremely cheap.

29 Ricky Tylor April 4, 2017 at 3:12 pm

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