Cotton’s Adoption of Robotic Harvesting Offers Lessons for Other Industries.

Published by , February 12, 2018 2:39 pm

(Bloomberg)  The robots are taking the cotton harvesting jobs — and they’ve been doing it for at least 60 years. The automation of cotton harvesting offers lessons on what many see as the current slow-motion robot takeover. The new robotic cotton harvester can cover 100 to 120 acres a day, compared to 80 with the previous generation of equipment.
“I figured out this new machine, it’s displacing at least 1,000 people,” says Dan Taylor, a retired cotton farmer and gin owner in Ropesville. “It can harvest on a good day as much as a thousand people would harvest” in the days of hand-pulling cotton.
Lessons from robots and automation’s takeover of cotton harvesting are:
1) Full automation was impossible without years of tinkering.
2) The robot takeover created opportunities.
3) Even when automation is unquestionably a net benefit, there are losers. Mechanization pushes out the least-able, leaving them without marketable skills.

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