RoboCrop – Resistance is Fertile…

      Close-minded, uninformed, and usually racist people will constantly exclaim that immigrants are taking their jobs. While those people blindly regurgitate the rhetoric of prejudice, they’re actually losing out on jobs to robots.

     CLOSE THE SCIENCE BORDERS!

     But seriously, the switch to robotic labour has been happening for awhile now. Production facilities and factories have been using a mixture of machines and automated production and robotics and human labour for years. Grocery stores have been adding self-checkout kiosks, and fast food restaurants have automated ordering machines.

Now, robots are also growing our food!

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     One such example is Iron Ox (http://ironox.com/). An organic robot garden. I know that sounds much cooler than it actually is, but unfortunately, they are not growing robots… yet.

     But they grow a few different vegetables that are tended to by robots.

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     Iron Ox grows around 26,000 heads of lettuce, leafy greens, and herbs each year in hydroponic vats. They can apparently grow 30 times more produce per acre than a regular farm. Due to the type of hydroponic system they use, the plants need to be constantly transferred to different vats throughout their growth. This is where the robots really come in handy.

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     Robot arms will move the plants from vat to vat (think of the robotic arm that helps Iron Man build/test his suits, but with less attitude). There is also a robot that moves pallets of the vats around the warehouse (I don’t know, like a self-aware forklift or something?). And there’s also a “Brain” computer that monitors the growing conditions and everything else and will adjust the gases and nutrients and etc. accordingly to make sure everything stays in balance (https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/9/17950502/robot-farm-future-iron-ox-agriculture-automation).

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     But don’t fret, my fellow humans! People are still needed to plant the seedlings, to package the plants when they’re ready, and to stand around complaining about how robots are taking their jobs.

     There are some benefits to this approach. Like other hydroponically grown produce/products, there is more quality control and less pesticides and foreign materials in the products. The robotic farms can also be placed in urban environments, which means they can be closer to the end users. Fuel and transport costs are lessened because of their vicinity (https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/2/18526590/robot-farming-startup-iron-ox-california-leafy-green-bianchinis).

     But at this time, the produce being produced by these robots is considered to be more of a niche or “boutique” product. It costs more than the regular, mass-produced products, which means it still might not be a viable option for the masses. But it is a start. And it is something definitely worth keeping an eye on. More and more robotically produced food and products will eventually flood the marketplace. If the cost of the end product can be lowered while still keeping the quality high, then it definitely has a chance to be the way of the future. It’s still an experiment that’s in its infancy though, so any pros and cons cannot be legitimately weighed.

     Innovations that do (or should eventually) streamline processes and improve the quality of the output are a good thing. Jobs will initially be lost, but eventually, new or modified jobs will open up. Society adapts to technological advances and eventually finds their place in the wheel of existence. It constantly happens throughout history, but there is a period of growing pains where some people will always, inevitably, be kept behind.

     But then again, when the robots control people’s food, they will technically control the people…

     Should we fear the eventual robot uprising?

     No, we shouldn’t…

     Because robots can smell fear…

 

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