August 22, 2010

"Robot suits to aid elderly Japanese farmers with toiling in the fields."

"People aged 65 and older are a key pillar of the agricultural work force, accounting for about 60 percent of the agricultural population in Japan. Development of the robot suit may come as welcome news to such elderly farmers."

Key word: "may."


Florida said...

Keyword: SKYNET

Our future robot overlords have a problem: We have to build them first.

So, naturally, they're going to couch their own construction in these sorts of feel-good stories planted in foreign "friendly" press outfits that can then be linked to by fifth columnists who have been nanotechnologicially assimilated ... peoplebots like Althouse.*

Those basterds.

(*Side effects of nanotechnoligical assimilation include the inexplicable inability to close drawers and cabinet doors).

Jason (the commenter) said...

An image from the future:

Elderly Japanese farmers in robot suits having sex with their elderly Japanese wives (also in robot suits).

mesquito said...

If Japan would only open up their food market our illegal aliens could do the work for them.

Pogo said...

This will in fact be a boon for the elderly all over the world, not because it keeps them employed later in life, but rather because it allows people to remain independent longer.

There is an unavoidable loss of strength and mobility for the majority of the elderly, and that usually means dependency. Now that there are fewer children to take care of elderly parents, and some without children at all, Japan has a keen interest in promoting physical independence in older adults.

I think this is extremely exciting in that it would allow people to stay in their homes longer. For example, an 80-year-old woman with osteoporosis in her spine, now would be able to lift a 40 pound bag of salt for the water conditioner by herself, without hiring someone.

This is why a capitalist economy would be nice; socialism always runs out of other people's money and cannot afford innovations like this.

Jason (the commenter) said...

mesquito: If Japan would only open up their food market our illegal aliens could do the work for them.

If we could only open our food and labor markets, illegal immigrants wouldn't be a problem.

madawaskan said...

That's weird.

When I worked on a potato farm without harvestors it was the older French ladies that could kick everyone's ass.

Jason (the commenter) said...

madawaskan: ...the older French ladies that could kick everyone's ass...

That sounds like an action movie I could really get into.

former law student said...

A temporary stopgap at best. Ever since I read about the 111 year old Japanese man who had actually been mummified for the past thirty years, I seriously doubt that Japanese are that long lived. Figure you're going to get 5-10 years of work out of them at best.

There have to be some younger Japanese sick of the rat race, with hardly enough space to turn around, who would love to live in the country. With the internet they can meet and eventually mate.

Fred4Pres said...

So when do I get my robot suit to go to the gym?

rhhardin said...

Once you've got the suit, you don't need the elderly person.

PLC said...

Robots? Old people? Better call Old Glory Insurance.

madawaskan said...

Jason (the commenter)


omg and they were bent over the fields that is, ummm nevermind!

c3 said...

Is that cheaper than this?

fartCloud said...

Will they have government appointed panels to determine which farmer is worthy?

virgil xenophon said...

Hell, Ripley and the Marines had one of those industrial-grade 1st gen. 1.0 workable robot suits in Aliens back in '86--old hat, man, old hat.

dbp said...

Hopefully it won't become a situation like this:The wrong pants

Lem said...

One drawback to the suits..

Oil spils..

BP in hot water again.. says the suits are not for "small people".

bagoh20 said...

I like this. We have a problem in that we have extended life without extending the ability to stay useful, with the result being that a long period of old age sucks.

Ideally, we could work and be active much longer, and all die of heart attacks or accidents while being useful or having fun. I don't want to slow down, I just want to break down suddenly, or drive off a cliff. I've already been sick enough in one life.

Fr Martin Fox said...

FLS observes, "There have to be some younger Japanese..."

That's the problem. For decades there's been a constant drumbeat, too many people, have fewer children, and now the results of that are playing out all over the world.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Okay, folks. I'm in my 60s and I farm for a living -- flowers, vegetables and fruit. The alfalfa and such are mechanised enough they're no big deal, but horticulture is tough.

The robot thing is totally the wrong approach, because real problem in horticulture in T-I-M-E, not strength.

Through diligent weight lifting and healthy eating I am considerably stronger than I was when farming in my mid-30s. I also have quite a bit more energy.

The problem is that I'm called upon to do more and more myself, and because horticulture is so incredibly time-sensitive it's ever harder for me to accomplish what I need to do, when I need to get it done.

You'd thing that with unemployment approaching 20% (u-6) it would be easy to find helpers. No F-ing way. The local Mexicans are illegal and somewhat lazy; I speak very fluent Spanish, so language is not the problem.

The gringos aren't illegal, but they're even lazier. If they're on unemployment they want to be paid under the table on top of their UI checks. They're terribly rebellious about following instructions, and they show up late (if at all). Every one of them wants compensation in appropriate for a manager with 20 years experience, even when they barely know which end of the carrot goes in the ground.

What will be my probable response? To establish uniform crops I know can be harvested mechanically, and take other steps to eliminate the need for external labor.

Those potential jobs will go away forever.

In Japan they're chief problem is a near-total absence of young people. Here, we've got the young people, but they are essentially unemployable.

In neither case does robotic assist address the real problem.

Donna B. said...

Am I the only one who immediately thought of Starship Troopers?

hmm... anyway, I'd love to take advantage of this type of technology. It beats the hell out of a wheelchair.

AST said...

Japan has the oldest population on earth. They aren't reproducing fast enough to maintain their native population and they don't allow many immigrants. That's why they're putting so much work into robot companions, assistants and now this.

I don't know how anybody can afford the prices there and still raise children. It's really sad.

But I'm wondering if Obamacare will buy me one instead of paying for back surgery.

Matthew said...

Hey Bart;

What about a combnination of robotic pickers AND crops genetically-engineereed to be cultivated and harvested by machines?

Oh,right...then we wouldn't need YOU, would we?

c3 said...

That's the problem. For decades there's been a constant drumbeat, too many people, have fewer children, and now the results of that are playing out all over the world.

Gee, plenty of younger, eager workers in the East Asian neighborhood. Maybe Japan needs to open up its borders a bit.

Oh, that's right immigration is BAD.

Mitch H. said...

c3 - Japan actually has a fair number of illegal immigrant types, they just cluster in the cities. Even further, there are a significant number of mail-order brides imported for their bachelor farmers, from the Philippines in particular. From all accounts they're treated like absolute shit, as the hicks in the sticks are pretty damned racist. Which also explains why the illegals look for work in the cities - easier to deal with the more-tolerant gokudo & yakuza than those reactionary eighty-year-old farmers.

Japan, like other rapidly-aging countries such as Greece and Germany, are aging fastest in the rural areas; the young people increasingly concentrate in the big cities, like frightened herd animals huddling inwards, in fear of some unseen predator.

The prospect of pampered, fat, worthless hordes of otaku scum being fed by the creaking industry of octogenarian farmfolk in the hamlets those otaku have abandoned is pretty dispiriting if you ask me.