Recently, Kubota introduced the concept for a robotic tractor called the X Tractor. For those who are curious, the machine is an electric tractor that can operate 100 percent on its own. Furthermore, it is capable of considering time, weather, and other relevant factors for better performance, which is on top of changing its height to handle a wider range of terrain as well as possessing a very tight turning radius. Finally, it is amusing to note that the X Tractor can connect with other farm equipment for better results than otherwise possible, which is a trend seen in a wide range of products in a wide range of contexts.
Does This Mean Anything?
For the time being, the X Tractor means very little for most people out there. This is because it is a concept and nothing more than a concept. Kubota has stated that it has no plans for turning the X Tractor into a product for sale in the near future, meaning that interested individuals shouldn’t expect to see said robotic tractor on the market anytime soon. However, it is important to note that Kubota has also stated that it is still very much interested in such technologies as well as how such technologies can be incorporated into their products, which suggests that this will be no more than a matter of time.
Regardless, this is an excellent example of the automation that is expected to sweep throughout our societies in the foreseeable future. Simply put, while sapient machines are still confined to the realm of speculative fiction, there can be no doubt about the fact that machines are becoming more and more capable. Something that should be considered wholly unsurprising because a very wide range of very powerful interests are pouring huge amounts of resources into such projects because of their immense potential. As a result, these more intelligent machines are expected to take over a much wider range of roles that their less intelligent predecessors could not, thus making them a threat to not just blue collar jobs but also white collar jobs.
Thanks to that, there are a lot of people out there who are showing a lot of concern for what will happen in the foreseeable future. After all, it seems safe to say that once the machines become capable, employers will jump at the chance to replace their employees. This is because machines can provide more reliable results than humans, which is on top of machines being less expensive than humans. As such, employers would be very foolish not to do so from a business perspective. However, the sheer extent of the expected automation is expected to result in many, many lost jobs, which in turn, will mean significant social shakeup.
Certainly, the rise of automation will mean not just the loss of old jobs but also the creation of new jobs, meaning that there will be new opportunities for those with the new skills to claim them. Unfortunately, the problem is that change is inherently difficult. Something that is particularly true for older people, poorer people, and other people who are less capable of making such drastic changes in their lives for one reason or another. Theoretically, governments can do a great deal to make such transitions easier for their populations. However, their track records in this regard have been rather uneven, as shown by the numerous communities throughout the entire world that were left behind by previous trends of similar scale in the job markets. Based on this, one can’t help but suspect that the future of the job market will be an interesting one in a not particularly pleasant sense of the word.
Why Is Japan So Interested in Robots Anyways?
Some people might be wondering why Japan seems to be so interested in robots. After all, Kubota is far from being the only Japanese company to introduce robotic products for sale as well as robotic products that could become available for sale. Fortunately, this is a simple question with a simple answer.
First, Japan has seen the same kind of change in its fertility rates as other developed countries. In 2018, it had a fertility rate of just 1.42, which refers to the average number of children that will be borne by a woman during her reproductive years. This is below the replacement rate needed to maintain the same population size, which needs to be higher than 2 in order to account for those who will die of premature causes. As a result, Japan and a lot of other developed countries are faced with the situation of having to sustain an aging population with a smaller and smaller base of young people.
Of course, there are various solutions for this particular problem. For example, both the United States and Canada use immigration to keep up their population numbers. Japan has been looking into boosting its immigration rates to help out with its population problem, but its longstanding, less-than-enthusiasm attitude towards immigrants means that it is nowhere near as attractive to immigrants as it could be, which isn’t something that can be changed all of a sudden. Regardless, Japanese companies have also been looking into robotic solutions, which essentially means putting machines in roles for which human hands are becoming rarer and rarer.
Farming is an excellent example of a field in which robotic replacements are becoming more and more important. This is because the Japanese are no more enthusiastic about farming than their counterparts in other developed countries, meaning that Japanese farmers are retiring in huge numbers without enough new people replacing them. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Japanese government has been looking for foreign farm workers to bolster their numbers. Furthermore, it should come as no surprise to learn that Japanese companies have been looking into automated farm equipment to reduce the need for manpower. Of course, this isn’t limited to the field of farming. Similar trends can be seen in other industries as well, with an excellent example being the introduction of robots to handle caretaking work. Something that is critical because of the need to care for an aging population with socialization needs.