Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Evolutionary Vending Machine

Capitalism comes alive
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A vending machine with a bunch of stuff in it. Batteries, gum, snacks, flash drives, pens, socks, pop-tarts, condoms, blank CD's. Basically everything you can think of that is small, lasts a long time, and someone might want.

The trick is, it has a few hundred items in small quantities, but only presents ten or so items at a time. The items are held in view to tempt passersby for a set time, average buying rate is calculated, and some other bauble is dangled.

Over a week or two, the machine finds a few things that fly off the shelves, and recommends it be stocked with those in large quantity. Once this is done, the machine continually adjusts the price of the goods it is offering, while carefully monitoring the rate of sale. It uses a simple algorithm to maximize profit.

One or two bays are reserved for experimental items, in case circumstances change.

If the machine notices it is operating at a loss (it knows how much you are paying for it), it will signal that it needs to be moved somewhere new.

This is a very smart vending machine. It sends you a lot of emails(SMS messages?), with information like the estimated time it will run out of product, the average profit it is making, and so on.

GutPunchLullabies, Apr 10 2009

Similar two and a half bunner. The_20Free_20Market_20Vending_20Machine
[leinypoo13, Apr 10 2009]

[link]






       But can such a machine know love?
bungston, Apr 10 2009
  

       What is this thing called, love?
Ian Tindale, Apr 10 2009
  

       Won't this cause a lot of religious debate and raging discussions on the halfbakery?
blissmiss, Apr 10 2009
  

       If it has an email address, is it also smart enough to avoid sending free condoms to Nigerian princes? Or succumbing to "merchandise rack extension supplements?"
Smurfsahoy, Apr 11 2009
  

       Upon reflection, what it needs most is not feelings, or more intelligence, but senses. If the machine had the added input of knowing what time it was, what the weather was like, how many people are around, etc, it could build even deeper formulas. It could sell umbrellas or sunscreen, depending on the circumstances.   

       Obviously the best way to do this is to give it all the senses you can, and let it sort itself out.
GutPunchLullabies, Apr 12 2009
  

       Dave, the vending machine on Wall Street is running out of cyanide capsules again.
4whom, Apr 13 2009
  
      
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