2 min readRobot farmers have arrived: What does it mean for our societies?

John Harris from The Guardian looks at the latest innovation in farming and the benefits it offers.

Though initially designed to increase productivity of small farms, there are various ways and reasons this could go wrong. For one, it could adversely affect smaller farms, if the inventors of such technologies decide to sell out.

Our Thoughts on the Matter

While the intentions of this innovation are noble, we can still say that this is a perfect example of inventions that lack context. For one, it does not look at the reasons why agricultural productivity keeps on decreasing. Second, it does not consider the many agricultural knowledge systems currently existing in the world that are far more ecologically sound.

The farmer robots described by the article will work well because they were built for a monoculture system, but crop science shows that this system is most unproductive because it is degenerative in nature. It takes nutrients from the soil and offers no way to build it back. Moreover, it fails to understand that everything in nature has its purpose, even weeds, and it works on the principle that more is better, which isn’t necessarily true in nature.

This invention does not look at the deeper role agriculture plays in our societies, except as a source of a basic need. What the inventors (and perhaps the writer of the article also) fail to see is that tilling the soil connects human beings to their environment. Taking agriculture away from humans so that we no longer have to bother with tilling the land is not a benefit – it will create repercussions far into the future. It might to lead to further disconnection of the human being to his/her environment. Perhaps robot farmers can be a big help in the farm work, but they cannot (and should not) replace human farmers altogether.

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