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Future of Farming Geared for Efficient Robotic Workers
11/28/2012

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Dorhout's Prospero robot farmer looks somewhat like a mechanical spider, crawling and planting various kinds of seed in ideal locations for that particular crop.   (Source: Dorhout R&D LLC)
Dorhout's Prospero robot farmer looks somewhat like a mechanical spider, crawling and planting various kinds of seed in ideal locations for that particular crop.
(Source: Dorhout R&D LLC)

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Cabe Atwell
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Roll in the robots!
Cabe Atwell   1/3/2013 5:55:31 PM
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There will always be people who don't want to think much while working. Some just want to use their bodies. I think there is some merit to that idea. At periodic points in my career, I think I would rather have a manual labor job. Instead of figuring out a whole electrical design, I would just sweep a floor, pound a nail, saw wood, operate a machine.

As we educate ourselves and the dominating culture shows the lifestyle of the entertainment business, few people will opt for manual labor. That is, unless it pays well. If I am not mistaken, farming does not. So, roll in the robots!

C

jmiller
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Re: Ambivalent Response
jmiller   12/31/2012 11:08:34 AM
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I think one question to pose is, "Do we as a society choose to keep some low level jobs that don't require as much education available for a certain part of society?  I mean we all can't be rocket scientists.  I think the world needs ditch diggers too."

jmiller
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Re: Ambivalent Response
jmiller   12/31/2012 10:57:08 AM
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I don't know if I agree with that.  A lot of farmers were satisfied with working hard with their hands for a decent living.  Unfortunately, a lot of those jobs are not there anymore.  I don't know if it's fair to expect everyone to become a rocket scientist.  I think we should have some jobs available for people who want to work hard and not necessarily go to college.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Ambivalent Response
Rob Spiegel   12/12/2012 5:43:38 PM
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Ttemple, there were farms in my family -- as with most of our families going back a couple generations. One thing I was very aware of is that my family members who owned farms also took jobs in town. I've also had friends who were migrant farm workers. And those are very difficult jobs.

ScotCan
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Re: Picker robot
ScotCan   12/12/2012 12:39:42 PM
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This was addressed in Create the Future using robotic and HMI to farm within monolithic domes 

ttemple
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Re: Ambivalent Response
ttemple   12/9/2012 10:49:22 PM
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Cabe,

I am suggesting that at some point we think about the effects of displacing everyone under the assumption that they can simply "Educuate themselves to find a new place to fit".

People fall within a bell curve.  I am attempting to make the point that indiscriminately displacing low skilled jobs by automating them out of existence, and presuming that those who are well suited to doing those jobs can shove themselves to a different place in the bell curve, might be a flawed strategy.  The bell curve may have some elasticity, but we will only be able to push it so far.

 

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Ambivalent Response
Cabe Atwell   12/7/2012 6:03:20 PM
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TTemple,

Look at it from the perspective of any technological advancement. Automatic elevators replace the operators, auto-printing presses replace line workers, robots take over the auto industry. All those displaced workers moved elsewhere. Educated themselves to find a new place to fit.

Don't you think that further automation of farming may do the same?

C

ttemple
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Re: Ambivalent Response
ttemple   12/7/2012 8:26:15 AM
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Rob, I presume from your opinion of farm jobs that you have never even been near a farm.

ttemple
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the solution is part of the problem
ttemple   12/7/2012 8:23:58 AM
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There are a couple of ways of looking at machinery displacing people on farms.  We have a severe shortage of low skill level jobs in this country.  The kind of labor that the machines displace is labor that most anybody could be trained to do.  More machinery equals more people sitting in front of their tv's, on their government cell phones, collecting their government checks.

About 30 years ago my uncle, who was not very educated, argued that the government should limit tractors to 60HP, so that more people would be required to maintain the food supply.  I have never fogotten that conversation, and I believe that when you ponder it for a while, he was probably on to something.  At some point you have to decide just how many people's jobs you want to displace if you don't have anything else for them to do.

100 years ago, people had to work much harder just to keep food in front of their faces.  They didn't have all the idle time and toys that we have today, but they did have jobs to go to.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Picker robot
Ann R. Thryft   12/6/2012 12:23:23 PM
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I don't agree about the mud "problem": it's a relative non-issue. Lots of rugged bots exist--mostly military or search & rescue types--that can deal with all kinds of terrain, including mud. Also, robotized tractors and other large farming-related vehicles have been around for some time.

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