Dateline: 3 September 2014
|Baxter is an example of an affordable robot that can do functional work. I'm not sure how practical he actually is, but this machine represents a demographic trend that everyone needs to understand.|
I have a friend who has a business that employs quite a few people. A couple years ago he told me that it was possible to buy a robot for $10,000 that could do some of the work that his employees are doing. He told me that robots are a big deal; that they are going to be doing more and more of the work that humans are doing. He wondered how this would affect the economy. And I thought to myself that if I could buy a robot for $10,000 that could dependably count out the poultry shrink bags I sell, I would get one.
Well, as I'm sure you know, robots are in the news a lot these days. We're being told that robots will, indeed, do more of the work that is now being done by people. A LOT more of the work. The following video is well worth watching to get some insights into the role that robots will be playing in the future. You might be surprised.
Most surprising to me is the serious move to self-driving automobiles…
As I understand it, self-driving cars are now legal in three states. It is only a matter of time before they are legal in all states, and it isn't just cars, but all manner of vehicles, including commercial trucks.
My initial thoughts regarding the increasing robot-dependence of our economy is that it will eventually self-destruct. With complexity comes vulnerability, and the most vulnerable link in this technological chain is probably the electrical grid. When (not if) the electrical grid goes down, the robots will not function very well. But that day may be a long time in the future. Until then, the robots are clearly taking over. And we will need to deal with this reality.
How should those who are alert to the "robot demographic" respond? My own thought is to simplify, get back to the land, do more with less, learn how to grow food, fix things, make things, and provide as much for myself and my family without being dependent on the industrial system. You have, of course, heard that from me before (like, for the past nine and a half years).
37 years ago, when I was a student at the Sterling School in northern Vermont, a friend of mine told me I was the most consistently consistent person he had ever known. My Christian and agrarian inclinations were well grounded back then, and they are even more well grounded today.
Agrarian life predates the rise of the robots. A deliberate agrarian lifestyle (to some degee) can exist in the midst of the robot revolution. And agrarian life will once again be the norm when the centralized, computer-dependent, modern Babylonian system collapses. Robots aside, I think the active pursuit of a contra-industrial, deliberate agrarian lifestyle is really just an expression of wisdom in a world chock full of foolishness.
A funny thing happened yesterday, as I was thinking about writing this blog about robots. I received an e-mail from Russel L. titled, The Agrarian Lifestyle & The Rise of Robots. That was quite a coincidence. Here is what Russel wrote…
I have something for you to think about as it relates to the agrarian lifestyle. Hardly a day goes by where there is not some story in the news about how robots will takeover more and more of the work previously done by people in the next few years. I believe that this is true. Robots work 24/7 and require no wages or benefits.
The impact of robots in the workforce, not to mention the addition of millions of immigrants, will be more unemployment. At the present, about 1/3 or 100 million people are not 'working' in the U.S. How many social media sites, Amazon's, etc. do we really need? That said, the most obvious 'jobs' for many of these people could be to help support themselves via an agrarian lifestyle. It has enormous benefits, both physical and spiritual, but I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. America did this during WWII, when people grew 40% of their food in Victory gardens.
I do believe that we are to bloom where we are planted. I live in suburbia, on 1/3 acre with HOA covenants and restrictions. While my garden and gardening skills may not as advanced as people like yourself, it is somewhat respectable given the 27 months since I started gardening seriously. We grow herbs, vegetables, have fruit trees and we store a portion of our harvest by canning or drying. We also share garden information and some of our produce with our neighbors, some of whom now also garden also as a result of our example. Our garden does not supply all our needs, but it does contribute significantly to the household budget and the fresh nutrient dense food that we grow cannot be purchased at any price. Brent Markham of Markham Farms wrote in his book that his gardening takes about 10 hours each week and provides an economic benefit of over $50 per hour when compared to purchasing the same amount of food he produces. If you do the math, that is $500 per week from a part-time 10 hour job. Not bad for someone retired, unemployed or underemployed. Much better to be in the garden than in front of a TV.
The agrarian lifestyle may not be for everyone, but it can go a long way towards building stronger families and reconnect us with lost values, like faith in God. Keep up the good work.
Well said, Russel. I'm wondering if anyone else reading this has any insights into the robot demographic, how it might impact the work you do, and what you think of all this. Feel free to comment below.