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2009 August 08 Saturday
Robots To Cause Mass Unemployment Of Low IQ Workers

Blogger OneSTDV says a robotic chef in Japan points us toward a future where our growing lower IQ population will have little or no useful work to do. This will cause problems for the rest of us.

Low-IQ individuals inevitably end up in menial labor jobs like fast-food service, lawncare, and agriculture field work. Through dysgenic fertility and low-IQ immigration, the population of low-IQ individuals is steadily increasing. As robotic technology advances, menial labor jobs will slowly be taken over by automated systems. Thus, the supply of potential workers increases while the demand for these workers decreases. Initially, the current menial labor workers will oversee the first automated systems. But, eventually, these systems will run entirely free of operation. As a result, a large segment of the low-IQ class, a class pathologically predicated towards social turmoil, will have no steady job opportunities.

We need to accept the inevitability of this future and start making policies now that prepare us for this future. Most notably we should halt and reverse the influx of immigrant labor to do low skilled and easily automatable jobs.

Larger Western state dairy farms using 40% immigrant laborers are driving a lot of Midwestern family farms out of business. But robotic milkers are going to drastically cut labor usage in dairies. Note that in a Europe that lacks cheap Mexican labor the robotic milkers are already widely used.

"We have seven working now," Brower says. In Minnesota there are about 30 systems working. "By the end of the year, I think we'll have 20." Last fall, Brower and representatives from a couple of other U.S. dealership traveled to Holland. They toured five robotic Lely dairies there, as well as the manufacturing plant.

"It was just to see how they set them up in Europe, the culture, and get to know Lely a little better," he says.

One startling fact is that in Europe, 65 percent of the new installations and upgrades are robotic.

"It's very common there," he says. "I'd say that within five years, we'll be at the same level in the U.S. I would say in 10 years this'll be very common."

I've seen a video of these automated cow milkers. The cows are trained to step into a milker stall once their milk starts feeling unpleasant to them. A human doesn't have to be around. The cows step voluntarily into a location where robotic milkers can attach and relieve them of their milk burden.

A Minnesota dairy farmer says one robot can handle 65 cows.

One unit can handle up to 65 cows, depending on the farm and production levels.

“Before, I was at about 110 cows. I have room for 120, which is about the right size for two robots,” Johansen says. “I have 105 cows right now. I have to get 120 milking by next spring.”

The other issue: Reliability.

Parts for the system have warranties from one to five years, depending on the part.

“People I talked to, who have had them for a year or two, say they had few problems with them and that the company stands behind their product,” Johansen says. “I’ve had some issues and they’ve been extremely good to work with.”

In New Zealand robots are automating meat-processing plants.

Knife-wielding robots with x-ray vision are invading the meat-processing industry. But far from posing a threat to humans, the machines have the potential to save the industry tens of millions of dollars.

In the US Mexican illegal immigrants have flooded into meat-processing plants. We'd have more automation already if Hispanic immigration (both legal and illegal) was stopped and reversed.

Update: Audacious Epigone looks at how labor costs determine how quickly automated equipment gets adopted.

By Randall Parker    2009 August 08 07:25 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2008 June 08 Sunday
Africa Attracts Farming Investments

The industrialization of China creates growing demand for both energy and food. That demand combined with the limits on oil production create enormous incentives to turn the lands of sub-Saharan Africa to productive uses.

Perhaps the most ambitious plans are those of Susan Payne, founder and chief executive of Emergent Asset Management, based near London.

Emergent is raising $450 million to $750 million to invest in farmland in sub-Saharan Africa, where it plans to consolidate small plots into more productive holdings and introduce better equipment. Emergent also plans to provide clinics and schools for local labor.

One crop and a source of fuel for farming operations will be jatropha, an oil-seed plant useful for biofuels that is grown in sandy soil unsuitable for food production, Ms. Payne said.

“We are getting strong response from institutional investors — pensions, insurance companies, endowments, some sovereign wealth funds,” she said.

The fund chose Africa because “land values are very, very inexpensive, compared to other agriculture-based economies,” she said. “Its microclimates are enticing, allowing a range of different crops. There’s accessible labor. And there’s good logistics — wide open roads, good truck transport, sea transport.”

The high prices of agricultural products and mineral commodities is creating pressures for a new form of imperialism. Capitalists and the Chinese government now have great incentives to create local areas of higher order inside of Africa. Can they manage to pull this off?

Oil money has made Nigeria less stable, not more. Nigerian oil production has been cut by about a quarter by attacks by a Niger Delta secessionist movement.

Port Harcourt, Nigeria - Militants in Africa's top oil producer are marking President Umaru Yar'Adua's first full year in power with fresh pipeline bombings, underscoring the difficulties that civilian rulers have had calming strife linked to Nigeria's notoriously weak and corrupt democratic system.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta's (MEND) latest attack – a nighttime bombing on a Royal Dutch Shell PLC operated pipeline – helped push global oil prices to $133 per barrel.

That explosion, the latest of nearly half a dozen in recent weeks, has raised fears of widening attacks on other oil facilities in Nigeria, the 4th-largest supplier of oil to the United States.

Can outsiders exert enough influence in Africa to make the place more useful for the industrialized and industrializing countries? Security companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that run aid and advice programs, and corporations will all bring management skills and cash for buying influence. But can these more fragmented groups replicate the level of organization that French and British colonial administrators once brought Africa in an earlier era?

By Randall Parker    2008 June 08 12:53 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2008 March 26 Wednesday
Food Price Riots Popping Up Around The World

Are rising food prices going to cause governments to go unstable and fall?

Bangkok, Thailand - - Rice farmers here are staying awake in shifts at night to guard their fields from thieves. In Peru, shortages of wheat flour are prompting the military to make bread with potato flour, a native crop. In Egypt, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso food riots have broken out in the past week.

Around the world, governments and aid groups are grappling with the escalating cost of basic grains. In December, 37 countries faced a food crisis, reports the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and 20 nations had imposed some form of food-price controls.

In Asia, where rice is on every plate, prices are shooting up almost daily. Premium Thai fragrant rice now costs $900 per ton, a nearly 30 percent rise from a month ago.

Exporters say the price could eclipse $1,000 per ton by June. Similarly, prices of white rice have climbed about 50 percent since January to $600 per ton and are projected to jump another 40 percent to $800 per ton in April.

High food prices have several causes. Population growth is one cause that is going to keep happening for many years to come. Industrialization of Asia has increased buying power for meat and therefore shifted more grain toward livestock feeding. A shift of grains toward biomass energy has reduced the amount of grain available for eating. Some droughts have contributed as well. Aside from the drought most of these causes are going to keep putting upward pressure on food prices.

If you are a middle class American the cost of food is a small enough percentage of our income that there's no need to panic. But in an extremely poor place like Haiti rises in commodities prices cause hunger.

"It's not likely that prices will go back to as low as we're used to," said Abdolreza Abbassian, economist and secretary of the Intergovernmental Group for Grains for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). "Currently if you're in Haiti, unless the government is subsidizing consumers, consumers have no choice but to cut consumption. It's a very brutal scenario, but that's what it is."

No one knows that better than Eugene Thermilon, 30, a Haitian day laborer who can no longer afford pasta to feed his wife and four children since the price nearly doubled to the local equivalent of US$0.57 (€.37) a bag. Their only meal on a recent day was two cans of corn grits.

"Their stomachs were not even full," Thermilon said, walking toward his pink concrete house on the precipice of a garbage-filled ravine. By noon the next day, he still had nothing to feed them for dinner.

Modest proposal: Use US foreign aid to offer free contraceptives and family planning classes for all the people in Haiti.

Prices for basic dietary staples are up sharply in El Salvador.

Protesters beat on pots and pan at El Salvador's Central Bank denouncing prices for staples such as maize and rice. Retail price for beans has risen 68% since January 2007; 56.2% for rice and 37.5% for maize.

Last year Mexico City was the scene of tortilla riots.

The troubles erupted early last year. First, there were the tortilla riots in Mexico City: 75,000 angry demonstrators, mostly poor, taking to the streets to protest the surging price of a food staple. Then in Italy, merchants from Milan began clamoring about the cost of pasta. By year's end, protests had broken out in at least a dozen countries: in India over onions, in Indonesia over soybeans, and, last month, in the small African country of Burkina Faso, where hundreds of looters burned government buildings to protest soaring grain prices.

You can imagine that immigration advocates will point to instability in Mexico as a reason to let in poor starving Mexicans. Not so fast. Poor starving Mexico is now the second fattest nation in the world.

MEXICO CITY – Fueled by the rising popularity of soft drinks and fast food restaurants, Mexico has become the second-fattest nation in the world. Mexican health officials say it could surpass the United States as the most obese country within 10 years if trends continue.

More than 71 percent of Mexican women and 66 percent of Mexican men are overweight, according to the latest national surveys.

People judge how they are doing versus how they were doing in the past. Younger fat Mexicans will become upset and express their anger long before they get really hungry. So even the fatter nations can be destabilized by rising food prices. America should deal with potential instability on its southern border by building a border barrier that will insulate us from some of the consequences of higher food prices.

By Randall Parker    2008 March 26 08:51 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (13)
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