In a bid to revolutionize holiday gift-giving, Amazon.com has secured a patent for a system that would allow people to convert unwanted presents to more desirable products — before the items are shipped to their homes. Under the proposed system, disgruntled recipients would get a chance to adjust the size of a garment to ensure it fits, for instance, or exchange an off-putting gift for a gift certificate. Is it a brilliant idea or downright rude?
This would take the joy out of giving: This is a case of "brilliant technology sadly run amok," says Mary Mitchell at Reuters. Indulging "our self-centeredness" this way "so sterilizes gift-giving relationships that we end up inadvertently deleting our humanity." The thought is what counts, and this system would render meaningless all the care and love that go into choosing a present.
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It is the greatest innovation since wrapping paper: This has the potential to be quite "empowering," says David Zax at Fast Company. Sure, it's all in the "realm of science fiction" for now, but think about it: A recipient could transform a host of unwanted presents into an iPod. "The thought counts, yes... But so, too, does cash, which is why gift certificates were invented in the first place."
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It's a helpful, if limited, tool: Amazon has certainly come up with "a rather cool patent," say the editors of Ubergizmo. But in practice it will probably just amount to a few reasonable parameters, such as "convert all gifts from Aunt Mildred" or "convert VHS to DVD." There's nothing Scrooge-like about converting a movie from an obsolete technology to a current one.
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