Artificial Intelligence: Endgame for Farming or Fresh Start?

Artificial Intelligence: Endgame for Farming or Fresh Start?

The end of the world is coming … eventually. Shortly before his death last year, famed physicist Stephen Hawking left us with several rather grim predictions for the future of Earth and life on it. At the top of his list was the takeover of artificial intelligence (AI). In an interview with Wired, he was quoted as follows: “We need to move forward on artificial intelligence development, but we also need to be mindful of its very real dangers. I fear that AI may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that will outperform humans.”

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Preceding those prophetic points, Hawking led off the AI topic by simply saying, “The genie is out of the bottle.” Indeed. And farmers know this well. Advancements in agriculture technology continue to crop up at a tremendous rate with promise of solutions to critical challenges such as a dwindling farm workforce.

In an article recently published in the journal Science Robotics, UF/IFAS researchers Senthold Asseng and Frank Asche contend robots and information technology will be the rule and not the exception on farms in the coming years. Akin to Hawking’s aforementioned genie in a bottle, Asseng and Asche point to established features like GPS-guided autosteer tractors on the ground and drones in the air already making an impact. But more is to come — much more.

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