Why Amazon Included a Zombie Apocalypse Clause in Its Terms of Service


Should a zombie apocalypse take place in America, people should feel free to spend their last moments as humans using Amazon’s new open-source software to run autonomous vehicles or heart-lung machines. However, if zombies are not eating someone’s neighbor’s brains, Amazon clearly outlines that he or she should not use its free gaming engine to operate self-driving vehicles or run critical medical equipment.

That is the sense of humor inserted in the Terms and Conditions clause for Amazon’s web-hosting service as pertaining to the firm’s newly-launched video-game development software known as Lumberyard. Amazon is well-known as a hard-driving organization whose employees are rather serious with their jobs. However, it is clear that a worker there has a wry sense of humor and superiors are willing to let them get away with it.

Deep inside the dense terms and conditions section for Amazon Web Service is a clause about Lumberyard. In this clause, observant readers will see Number 57.10. It starts with a stipulation that the software should not be used in safety-or life-critical systems like self-driving cars or medical equipment. This is unless the United States Center for Disease Control declares a zombie apocalypse.

All such free publicity has not hurt Amazon in any way. That one sentence inside a 26,000 word document has helped the company get word out about the newly-launched Lumberyard. This is gaming engine that is provided free of charge for developers, but which must be hosted on either the developer’s own server or Amazon’s web servers.

Zombies tend to make appearances in the oddest places. In 2011, doctors at CDC were trying to spur people to prepare for natural disasters. Since people were not enthusiastic, CDC released a tongue-in-cheek guide called Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse. It showed what ordinary people could do in an outbreak of zombie virus. It seems Amazon has borrowed a leaf from CDC.

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