Robot Strawberry Picker, Abundance Report

January 25, 2011 · Posted in abundance, economics, innovation · Comment 

In the USA picking strawberries is hard low paid work for migrant, often illegal alien, workers. Japan’s robot strawberry picker comes from a different mindset.

Most post-industrialized nations complain about cheap foreign labor taking their jobs. Similarly people living in high income nations complain that automation is eliminating jobs, even jobs no one really wants to do. Standing in the hot sun bending over picking strawberries for 12 hours per day is not desirable work for any person.

Japan values their national cultural identity much more than other post-industrialized nations. Being a small island nation they are very concerned about depending on foreigners for materials. Japan understands and values self-sufficiency. Additionally, Japan is an aging society. The ratio of young people who are able to do manual labor is declining. If Japan is going to remain self-sufficient it must find ways to do more with less human labor.

Japan’s obsession with automation stems from their need to do more with less. Proper design and automation is how Japanese companies increase productivity and quality while reducing costs.

Even though Japan is a small nation it produces a great deal of food, particularly for local use. Rather than using the mass production approach of the nations with large amounts of land such as the USA, Canada, and Russia, Japan produces food in super efficient small scale farms. These types of farms are particularly well suited to automation. A small family owned farm using automation can produce much more food per acre and at much higher quality than the large scale industrial farming approach. Rather than viewing automation as stealing jobs, the Japanese are spreading real wealth by allowing more people to directly own and operate the means of production.

Japan is moving forward into Abundance both technologically and socially. Other nations and people could learn a lot from the Japanese.