November 17, 2016 | Tech Talk | Charlie Trauger

Should We Fear Robots and Artificial Intelligence?

Charlie muses on the world of Artificial Intelligence and what it will mean for agriculture and the world

This week I caught the latest Star Wars release on TV and was reminded from the first movie out in ’78, that robots like R2D2, C3PO and the new guy, BB-8 would be cool to have. The closest thing I have now is Siri and Cortana as they are at least called ‘bots’. I do use them both quite a bit to bark in appointments and reminders. It’s almost like the old days when we had assistants that would help schedule our day and keep us on time and tasks, but the ‘bots’ only recognize a few words, and then call up an agent to do the task. They don’t really understand us like our assistants did (in some ways that might not be bad). But, things are changing in the world of artificial intelligence.

You know things are progressing quickly in the agricultural arena as Case-IH recently unveiled their self-driving tractor at the Farm Progress Show. They are billed as “The Terminators of the agricultural world” by Luke Dormehl in this article on Digital Trends. The front even looks a bit mean and menacing to me. 

In other areas outside of ag, Facebook for instance has spent a lot of money on developing “bots” with over 33,000 currently that allow payments on messenger, help companies with the automation of back-office conversations, all eliminating jobs. With 6% of jobs possibly being eliminated in the next 5 years projected, change is coming per this article on CNBC recently.

We already have automatic palletizers and other machines that allow us to find something less strenuous and more strategic for our employees. But the new bot technology could end up replacing customer service, trucking and potentially other areas. Plus, it is hitting Wall Street as well with projections that there will be anywhere from 20 to 50% less data analysts needed in the future. It makes me wonder if the picture below will be what all of our businesses will look like in the future.


Guess we all should start learning how to write code, but then I am sure someone will create a bot for that also. Just speak into the mic and out pops a software application. I hope this does not end with a computer named ‘Hal’. I am not really worried, after all when I was a bond trader in the 80’s working at a bank, we all thought ATM’s would replace tellers. I see more bricks and mortar in the banking world than ever.

This new technology could end up being good for those of us living and working in rural America. It is hard to get and keep young people in smaller communities, but then I doubt robots will pay taxes and contribute to society by volunteering, etc. Or perhaps they will. Something worth keeping an eye on. 

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