7. The Bots Are Back In Town

The machines have arrived in the Agriculture industry. Through advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, the agriculture industry has made strides in maintaining their crops in good conditions. In addition to good crop yield, they are able to save water, make better decisions for harvesting, and detect crops with diseases and remove them immediately. These are only a few of the things that the use of artificial intelligence has helped remedy and improve in the agriculture industry.

The presence of high-tech automation is increasing in the farm, more specifically, robotic tractors that plow fields on their own. One of these robots is called the LettuceBot. It is described that the LettuceBot is a robot that makes plant-by-plant decisions to increase yield and apply pesticides by taking data-gathered through cameras and sensors-and making predictions from it. With all these new automated bots, I have to question how safe and accurate they are.

The question of safety and accuracy doesn’t seem to be much of a concern right now, but it is something the farmers claim to look into later. Right now, the LettuceBot seems to do its intended job;however, the farmers haven’t confirmed that it is accurate. There is no form of validity for this machine.

I don’t believe that it is ethical for the farmers to be using this machine if it has not proven its accuracy or how safe it is. From the consumer side, who’s to say that machine is picking bad crops. From the corporate side, who’s to say that it is yielding the most profit.

On the other hand, some of these robots have proven to be very helpful. In an article published by WIRED, the CEO of CropX explained, “Land is not uniform. Different amounts of water need to be applied to different parts of the field. By watering fields uniformly you’re wasting water and poisoning the soil because the chemicals follow the water.” CropX seeks to solve this problem through predictive analytics, the practice of extracting relevant information from existing data to assess patterns and make predictions about future trends or outcomes. In this particular setting, predictive analytics is being used to make predictions about water distribution for specified sub-fields.

Thanks to CropX, many farmers are now able to make better decisions on how to distribute water across their fields appropriately and efficiently. Of course, CropX is not the solution to the water problem, but it has significantly cut down the waste of water.

https://www.wired.com/2015/06/smart-sensor-farmers-dont-waste-water-drought/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/joannmuller/2015/07/09/forbes-agtech-summit-smarter-tractors-robots-make-farming-more-efficient/#2196ac19c40f

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6 thoughts on “7. The Bots Are Back In Town

  1. I have to agree with your concerns for safety in the automation of pesticide application. The situation reminds me of the Therac-25 which resulted in the radiation poisoning of at least six people in the 1980’s. One may argue that the flaws in the system are inherently human. However, there should be a means for verification.

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  2. I agree as well with your concern about the LettusBot. Any kind of new robot needs to be tested to see if it’s safe and effective. Rigorous testing can prevent flaws from being found way in the future, and can be discovered sooner rather than later. Sometimes it could be a simple flaw that makes it less effective at it’s job, but it could be a major flaw that could affect the products being sent to consumers.

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  3. I agree that more testing needs to be done before lettucebot is commercially used. I don’t want a potentially flawed machine dousing my food with a gallon of pesticide.

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  4. That’s pretty cool that there are robots that provide individualized care to each and every plant. But like you say, these robots would need to be very dependable because they are handling a resource that has a very large impact on humans if it is mishandled. I wonder if we will ever get to the point where farming is completely automated.

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  5. The ignorance to safety and security is commonplace in technology systems as sad as it is to say. Companies are looking more to roll out a product as quickly as they can and by having that motive they ignore the security aspects almost entirely. I like the idea of machines coming to the fields as the quick-handling of robots in situations where huge quantities are needed is very imperative to the future of our overgrowing human population

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  6. I definitely agree with your safety concerns considering we are the consumers who are going to be buying those potentially bad crops. I’m a little surprised that farmers are not more cautious of the safety of these bots because their crops are their business. It will probably end up having to be one of those “only worry about it until something happens” situations, although it doesn’t have to be if there were safety regulations with these bots put into action.

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