Sunday, October 24, 2010

As if consolidation...

Wasn't reducing our numbers fast enough.
Now, other agencies want to capitalize on progress in robotics to transform their own fields. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is after “robotic applications to surgery,” as well as “computerized therapist personalities [and] artificial intelligence capable of real time monitoring” along with patient interaction and day-to-day care-taking tasks. And robots won’t just be health care providers — the NIH is also interested in organ- and limb-replacement robotics, including advanced prosthetics and “implantable smart robotics for monitoring/drug delivery.”

The USDA is looking at an agricultural-bot takeover that would reduce labor costs and streamline production and food-safety checks. The agency wants robots that’d be responsible for crop harvesting, sorting and inspecting, along with “detecting ripeness, physical damage [and] microbial contamination.” Robots would also rule over animal herds, taking on tasks like “sorting, vaccinating [and] deworming” large numbers of livestock.  [More]
I have always believed much of our work was vulnerable to automation, and recent upgrades like auto-steer reinforce this conviction. While much of this research is likely pointed toward labor-intensive  crops like fruits and vegetables, the advancements will spill over into row-crop farming I suspect.  Also remember, these are your government dollars at work, even while we expend resources to help struggling producers keep going.
I wonder how many farmers we will need in say, 20 years?   10,000?

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