May 292017
 

Listening to the radio today, I heard part of Public Radios “The World.” There was one segment that was actually kinda interesting… where they discussed “Lettucebot.” Starts at around 13:50 in the downloadable MP3.

Lettucebot is, as the name suggests, a robot that can pick lettuce. It’s not only not a new concept (robots doing agricultural labor has been a Popular Science dream for decades),it’s not even a new machine, having been around for a few years. But I can recall arguing online, in the Great Usenet Era of fifteen, twenty years ago, that *eventually* robots will get good enough and cheap enough that they will be able to replace even illegal alien farm workers.

Robots have replaced just about every other kind of manual, repetitive labor… so why not. At least here they’d be replacing workers that society should be fine with making redundant. Along with robots for picking lettuce, there are prototypes for apples and cotton.

Unsurprisingly, the Public Radio piece focuses on the plight of the poor illegal immigrants, with a farm workers union rep saying that farmers should forget about all that robot stuff and should work instead on changing the laws to make it easier for “migrants” to come in and take the jobs of honest, hard-working red-wired American robots.

Granted, if I recall correctly farm laborers are a minority of the illegal alien population. Heck, most illegals are coming in from Asia, not Latin America, and are coming in legally and overstaying their visas, not sneaking across the border at night. Still, a robot that can replace any practical need for hundreds of thousands or millions of foreign lawbreakers? Ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that.

As the union rep says, bringing in robots does have a certain job-creation benefit: you need someone to operate and maintain the robots. At least initially, I’d expect these farmbots to be finicky, prone-to-malfunction expensebots that farmers will tend to hire; and there will be a reasonably well-paid technician riding herd on them. One guy could potentially replace hundreds of laborers. This means that that one guy could get paid really well. Which means it’ll be a job a whole bunch of Americans would be happy to do. Which would be one less reason to hire illegals.

 Posted by at 7:43 pm
  • se jones

    Yes.
    Also in a few years, robotic farm bots will make the whole GMO & pesticide hysteria moot. Sensitive UV spectrum analyzers on-a-chip are just cheap commodities now, with these sensors a weed or an insect are glaringly obvious against the background of the crop plants you are growing.
    Swarms of networked little bots will tirelessly wander up & down rows of crops, napping (or zapping) insects and weed sprouts, then measuring the moisture content of each plant and ordering up just the right amount of water.

    It’s too bad for the migrant farm workers. Where I’m from, seasonal farm workers weren’t illegal, they came up on work permits, sent money home to their families, then returned to Mexico for the winter. But once the Democrats (mostly in California) figured that with enough social services for the migrant wives and children, the migrants would just stay and become Democrat constituents.

    • sferrin

      ” But once the Democrats (mostly in California) figured that with enough social services for the migrant wives and children, the migrants would just stay and become Democrat constituents.”

      All the more reason to loathe Democrats.

    • Rick

      we also supply benefits to the workers themselves.
      Our System of Record actively contains fields in given Cases to track citizenship status. Which is why our Director, and County, and even State has given orders to all personnel to REFUSE all cooperation and lawful queries by Federal immigrations and customs officers.
      and our Union. SEIU of course, is on record as saying they are totally willing for their OWN rank and file to LOSE jobs due to Federal cuts for noncompliance. Sacrificing its own dues paying members for politics.

      So yes, we DO directly give welfare benefits to KNOWN illegal immigrants. And their families.

  • Herp McDerp

    Unsurprisingly, the Public Radio piece focuses on the plight of the poor
    illegal immigrants, with a farm workers union rep saying that farmers
    should forget about all that robot stuff and should work instead on
    changing the laws to make it easier for “migrants” to come in …

    Fun fact: Cesar Chavez, founder of the United Farm Workers union, was a bitter foe of illegal immigration. Chavez, an American citizen by birth, realized that illegal aliens would be used as strikebreakers by farmers to the detriment of American Hispanics and other legal farm workers. He even opposed the Bracero program.

    • DJF

      And he was right, the UFW Union is now only a fraction of what it once was, due to massive increase in illegals who don’t join the union

    • publiusr

      That explains the other PATCO union busting–the Reagan blanket amnesty program. He figured democrats had their minority–so the GOP had to have their’n. That and a lot of folks south of the border were very socially conservative–perhaps explaining why Proposition 8 passed in California. The owners of the shops on Castro street may have been against it–but were outnumbered by the folks who actually did the work for them.

      The Reagan amnesty just made Trump’s job harder–and all the GOP got out of that was Ana Navarro.

      Boundaries matter. I’ve always been more Hobbes than Locke myself. It might have made economic sense to off-shore jobs–but in the end that’s what made America’s competitors–and enemies–stronger.

      To get more on topic–there was a bit on Public Radio about https://www.jukedeck.com/
      http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/05/29/530259126/for-video-soundtracks-computers-are-the-new-composers

      When I was growing up–I thought we would have had humanoid robots all over the place–doing things–but art, music–all of that would remain in the human world.

      It seems the opposite is true. I don’t think we will ever see the sci-fi Robby general purpose robot.

      Jukedeck is all but code–where Lettucebot probably was harder to engineer in a physical sense–and has a very limited retinue

  • MrSmartyPants

    Hey Scott I found this news article that might be worth doing a whole blog entry on:

    “Feminist researcher invents ‘intersectional quantum physics’ to fight ‘oppression’ of Newton”

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3556380/posts
    https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/32830/

    • Scottlowther

      That is a steaming pile of nonsensical bullshit, right there.

  • xvdougl

    Let us throw away our candles and our torches. Hmmm, I think you should be sentenced to gutter cleaning for suggesting such a thing.

  • Rick

    if illegal immigrants destroy the robots, are they gonna be treated as criminals then? Or will the Media celebrate them as Heroes Against the Robot Uprising?

    • publiusr

      That could go either way. It might be that the only way Dems can get ground based solar–and Republicans can get a wall–is if the two are one an the same. If you are going to the expense of all those dozers out in the desert–you might as well put solar panels on top of them. That way–if a more liberal president wants a more open border–he won’t destroy the wall–but open up the gates a later president can close.

  • Kelly Starks

    “Lettucebot.” is actually looking obsolete. Vertical farming, where the “farm” is just pallets on warehouse shelves, stacked and unstacked, by robots like those in big amazon.com warehouses. Watered and harvested automatically. Productivity (cost per plant) is lowering bellow that of outdoor farms. So illegal alien farm workers won’t have farms to serve. 😉

  • Ryder

    I’ve been saying for at least a decade, and so far as I know, I’m the only one to have ever said it… Illegals from Mexico and on South, have been taking engineering jobs, machinist jobs, technician jobs, fabrication jobs, software jobs, etc. etc. etc…

    In other words, not just jobs “American’s won’t do”.

    They do this by keeping agriculture in the stone ages… walking into a field and picking food with one’s hands and back…

    If they weren’t here, we’d be picking EVERYTHING the American way… technology and innovation.

    Because of the illegals, the most advanced grape picking machinery is produced in Europe and Australia, for example.

    All one needs do is look back in history to when black slaves were freed. After a short term “crisis” in cotton harvesting, the United States became the greatest cotton producer in the world, thanks to mechanized processes made possible by outlawing slave labor.

    Figures the “progressives” want to keep something all too close to slave labor alive and well… using the “brown people” to pick our food… keeping American engineers out of work.