Bill Gates thinks four or five years is an "optimistic, or perhaps overoptimistic" timeline for the deployment of Amazon's delivery drones. But in the same breath, Gates praised the project for its potential to impact other areas of society, such as "getting health supplies out to people in tough places." Gates is widely known for his support of global health initiatives through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other philanthropic institutions.
Gates' statement came Monday by way of an interview on CNN's The Lead. The statement he was asked to comment on was made a few days ago by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who told CNN he thinks his "Amazon PrimeAir" vision could become a reality in just a very few short years. Bezos:
"I'm an optimist. Could it be four, five years? I think so. It will work, it will happen, and it's gonna be a lot of fun."
Is that a realistic timeline? Gates' full statement:
Physical products delivered by drones is on the optimistic, or perhaps the overoptimistic end of that, but it's great that people have dreams like that. If we can make the cost of delivery easier, then it's not just books. It's getting health supplies out to people in tough places. Drones overall will be more impactful than I think people recognize -- in positive ways to help society."
When asked if the PrimeAir unveiling was perhaps just a marketing stunt on the part of Amazon, Gates stuck to his guns:
Tech pioneers dream big dreams and I think he's allowed to have a vision there, and it would be great if we can come anywhere close to that for a lot of products.
So while Gates said the timeline might be optimistic, the idea itself is a good one. Note also that Bezos himself even qualified the estimate by characterizing himself as "an optimist." Not a whole lot of controversy to be had here.