Fascinating post Cabe. This article is very timely for me because I have just been asked to consider a project that will (hopefully) mechanize the planting of Miscanthus X-- 10,000 acres. Miscanthus is a plant that is used to generate biofuel so food-products can still be used for consumption. I know we are some years away from robotic planting, at least on the scale I need right now, but your article does provide very interesting possibilities. Again, many thanks for the post.
In a lot of ways so many farming jobs have already been lost due to the size of the machinery and the automation of different tasks. It would be interesting to see how many jobs have already been lost due to technology. At the same time, this technology is increasing the amount of food being grown with less people and less energy.
I agree most likely the next steps will be to incorporate current machines with newer technlogies. Right now we see a lot of GPS and mapping of yields and soils types and some use of automation to cntrol vehicles. I don't think it will be long before the tractors will drive themselves.
Thought is the movie The Matrix comes to mind with robotic farming. The bots toiled in fields of their "human-batteries." Upscale the bots, and they will do just that, but with soy-beans.. not the human race.
Good points, Cabe. The displacement of jobs can have a dreary effect. And you're right that even intellectual jobs can be less than exciting. Sometimes I think that writing is manual labor of the mind.
Good point, Cabe. Yet it's a long tradition of technology displacing workers. The printing press displaced thousands of scribes. Remember secretaries? Thankfully, in most cases, the jobs that are displaced are mind-numbing and soul-killing.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.