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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tomorrow Is a Brighter Day: Robot Farmers

Posted by on Thu, Mar 11, 2010 at 8:09 AM

What do I see in this piece of news?

Dr Dudley and colleagues at NPL along with agricultural firm Vegetable Harvesting Systems (VHS) are working on robots that are as fast as humans at working out if a cauliflower is ready to be picked.

One prototype has a multi-axis arm and the other is equipped with a blade that simply cuts and gathers. Field trials of both are being carried out on a farm in Cambridgeshire.

I see nothing else than the promise of our final liberation from "the idiocy of rural life."

Let's revisit that remarkable passage in the greatest love poem of the 19th century, The Communist Manifesto:

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.
As Deasy says in Ulysses: "Can you feel that?... Can you?"


Comments (16) RSS

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The Amazing Jim 1
Sabots into the machinery.
Posted by The Amazing Jim on March 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM · Report this
Timmytee 2
Just as many (more?) idiots in town, Charles.
Posted by Timmytee on March 11, 2010 at 9:01 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 3
Yeah, but I'm not nuts about cauliflower, so it wouldn't benefit me.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on March 11, 2010 at 9:15 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 4
Oh, and Charles - wouldn't this put all the migrant farm workers out of a job? I thought you Marxists were all gung-ho about the "working man" and shit.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on March 11, 2010 at 9:17 AM · Report this
Relevant? Laura Barrett - Robot Ponies…
Posted by opticsdoug on March 11, 2010 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 6
it's not the farm labor that makes rural folks idiots. it's the isolation and monoculture.
Posted by Max Solomon on March 11, 2010 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Charles, you are such a dick. I don't want to live out there either but that doesn't mean that people who do are idiots.
Posted by Root on March 11, 2010 at 9:39 AM · Report this
Timmytee 8
@4: 5280, we can always put them to work writing more extraneous crap for the Internet.
Posted by Timmytee on March 11, 2010 at 9:39 AM · Report this
There is work being done to develop a raspberry sturdy enough to be picked by a similar robot arm. I prefer to eat the ones in my urban backyard, picked by my own hand. I oppress only myself.
Posted by alight on March 11, 2010 at 9:47 AM · Report this
laterite 11
As if our system of food production needs more industrialization.
Posted by laterite on March 11, 2010 at 11:04 AM · Report this
This story made me think of Charles Stross' story "Rogue Farm", about a farmer in the future trying to work his land in the (mostly - he does have a pot-smoking helper dog that talks) traditional way, and getting menaced by a walking hivemind farm commune that squats on his property...

“Brains, fresh brains for baby Jesus,” crooned the farm in a warm contralto, startling Joe half out of his skin. “Buy my brains!” Half a dozen disturbing cauliflower shapes poked suggestively out of the farm’s back then retracted again, coyly.

“Don’t want no brains around here,” Joe said stubbornly, his fingers whitening on the stock of the shotgun. “Don’t want your kind round here, neither. Go away.”

Live performance of the story here for download:…
Posted by Peter F on March 11, 2010 at 11:09 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 13

As if raspberries sold in supermarkets weren't disgusting enough.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 11, 2010 at 11:17 AM · Report this
@11 FTW. And fuck you Charles.
Posted by dwight moody on March 11, 2010 at 11:30 AM · Report this
Charles Mudede 15
Even in Zimbabwe, the dullest people are from the rural areas. Indeed, they were the ones who kept Bush in power. It was impossible to explain to them that Mugabe was not working in their interest. They just could not understand these things.
Posted by Charles Mudede on March 11, 2010 at 11:41 AM · Report this
gfish 16
@11: So when robot-picked cauliflower comes onto the market, are you going to make sure to buy the more expensive human-picked variety? That's the choice here. If you want to support an obsolete occupation, you've got to pay more.

If so, that's great, because I'd really like to make a living as a blacksmith some day.
Posted by gfish on March 11, 2010 at 11:41 AM · Report this
It's always funny to see people like Mudede, who consider themselves to be liberal, expressing such blatant prejudice and bigotry.

This attitude is no different than Palin's and Coulter's frequent assertions that people in New York and other liberal urban areas aren't sufficiently patriotic.

It is powered by a reflexive ideology, willful ignorance, and prejudice, devoid of any appreciation for the subtleties of human nature and objective reality.
Posted by LJM on March 11, 2010 at 2:14 PM · Report this

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