Here’s an article talking about something I am keenly interested in.

I have forseen this for years and have slowly been working my way up to being able to do something about it personally. Manufacturing robots is no problem for me. Simple programming of machines is not a problem. I’ve now even done solid work on AI strategies to optimize useful behavior for such machines. The final piece of the puzzle really is computer vision which I’m working on right now.

Not only is sowing, weeding, and crop harvesting possible as the article points out, but pest removal can now be done effectively with "hand to hand combat". I can stare at a tomato plant for hours without seeing 10 caterpillars crawling on it, but OpenCV would catch them within milliseconds of them moving and perhaps otherwise notice them in ways that evolved eyes can not. Garden pests evolved to outwit equally evolved enemies. Robots don’t play by those rules.

Another exciting possibiltity for agriculture that I don’t think has been interesting since humans first had animals pull a plow is an opportunity for greater biodiversity in farmland. Why should we have row after row of corn or wheat? Why not mix that with plants and crops which will produce a healthy balance to the soil? Instead of crop rotation, I’m saying jumble them all like a forest because with today’s technology you don’t need to use driftnet tactics behind a tractor. In the same spirit, planting does not need to occur all at once. You could have a plant due for harvest in August next to one due in September. The planting and harvesting schedules can be mixed up to provide ideal product flow. Also irrigation can target very specific parts of the farm. Plants that are flagging due to dehydration can get extra water, while plants that are drought resistent can be singled out for cuttings and seedstock for the next generation. Productivity of various complex planting strategies can be evaluated very efficiently since they would really just be computer programs.

I’m optimistic that humans will be able to overcome the next Malthusian trap thanks to robots. I’ll be doing what I can.