thank your elders for your food, epidermal electronic tattoos, self configuring robots

road trip route 66


Aging Farmers & the Stewardship of America’s Agriculture Industry

Disruptive demographics affect everything – and the agriculture business is no different. America’s farmers are aging. There have always been ‘old’ farmers but the difference today is that there appear to be fewer people who want to fill their boots when they ‘retire’.

Consider the following demographic reality. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, the average American farmer, that is the principle operator of their own farm, was 57.1 years old – nearly 17 years older than the average American worker.

The velocity of the graying of America’s agriculture industry is unparalleled – nor does it appear to be a short-term population blip. The average farmer age increased 10 years from 47.6 years old to 57.1 in a short four years (2003-2007). Nearly 30% of all farms are operated by people 65 years old and older. African-American farm operators are older as a group averaging 60.3 years old. And female operators are close to an average 59 years old.

there is the possibility that immigrates could take up the lack in an aging farmers population. While there has been an increase in both Asian and Latino farmers their average age is close to the current average for all farmers. It seems like a movie from the 1950s where farmers send their kids off to state college and the kids decide not to continue the family business. As long as there is demand there will be farms. Though they are more likely to be factory farms. Farms run like an industry with hourly wage workers. It does seem like the end of an era.

‘Epidermal electronics’ tattoos: a giant step forward for cyborgs

One day soon, your doctor might prescribe you something that looks like a colourful temporary tattoo. But when you apply it to your skin you’ll end up with more than an interesting pattern. Your epidermis will be coated with a gossamer-thin layer of electronics. In the short term, this tattoo will be used to monitor your well-being. But in the long term it could be used to enhance your body as part of a remarkable new phase in human evolution, one foreseen by Edgar Allen Poe in the 19th century.

For science geeks- the tattoos would cling to skin by way of weak van der Waals forces. In their latest iteration the tattoos can both monitor muscle activity and be used to stimulate muscles. The latter would used as a kind of physical therapy.

For literature geeks the Poe reference is to the 1850 short story The Man That Was Used Up. Said to be the first story about a man who, because of war injuries, became the first machine integrated man – even down to his mechanical tongue. Later termed “cybernetic organism” (Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline, 1960). Warning: the short story does contain some derogatory ethnic terms.

Sure robots are great as long as they don’t decide they’re sentient beings with feelings and rights, and decide to go on a rampage. Really great and potentially nightmarish robots are the self constructing ones, Smart sand & robot pebbles

Imagine that you have a big box of sand in which you bury a tiny model of a footstool. A few seconds later, you reach into the box and pull out a full-size footstool: The sand has assembled itself into a large-scale replica of the model.

That may sound like a scene from a Harry Potter novel, but it’s the vision animating a research project at the Distributed Robotics Laboratory (DRL) at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Notes: While I doubt anyone was on the edge of their seat waiting for it, I’ll try to continue the post on esthetics and standards in my next post.


Thunderhorse by The Diamond Light

Repealing Health Care Reform (ACA) Would Increase Government Debt,  Says Government Auditor.