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Robotics at CCF

By Staff | Sep 14, 2016

JACK BURRUS, scientist and futurist in the “World of Robots,” shows Clay County Fair attendees a robotic “pet” that exhibits emotions via the color of its eyes. Here, he speaks to it in various tones and watches for the eye colors to change, indicating its reaction to the way in which it is being spoken.

SPENCER – Jack Burrus said he loves science and engineering, and his job at the Clay County Fair – as it is every other day of the year – is to get people interested in those things.

He does his “World of Robots” show daily from the Ag Partners Stage in the stables at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Burris, from Madison, Wisconsin, is a science and technology futurist who travels the nation “waking people up” about robotics. He travels to 350 schools each year teaching about robotics and futurism.

“Some say I was the one responsible for the big robotics push at all the schools because I was the first one out there doing it,” he said. “I may not have done all the work, but I may have provided the inspiration for others to do the work.”

Burrus said the purpose at the Clay County Fair is to show people what is ahead in the ways of technology.

JACK BURRUS stood before a crowd at the Clay County Fairgrounds last weekend and showed them that robotic technology is much further advanced than people imagine. His job there was to “wake people up” about it in his “World of Robotics” presentation. Here, he demonstrates a robot he made that can do cartwheels, push-ups and more.

“It’s (super-advanced technology) already here, but they’re just not showing us all at once because there would be extreme overload,” Burrus said. “… we’re making advancements all the time, maybe 40 jumps in advancement at a time and showing one or two.”

He said Japan is currently operating factories for 30 days at a time without humans inside the factory. Those factory workers work from home and operate machines remotely.

“That could be happening everywhere right now, but it would disrupt things, so we have to move slowly so we don’t disrupt the economy or people with the change,” Burrus said.

There are robots that can carry (on legs) 800-pound loads, play catch, ride a bicycle, do gourmet cooking and clean up afterwards. He said the gourmet-cooking robot will be released before the end of the year. Video glasses and holographic imagery within them will be part of everyday life for people in the future, he said, allowing people to design anything, repair things with video tutorials, and watch television all around the home.

Burrus said robotics in agriculture will be much bigger than it is already today, with today’s best technology showing drone usage to look at crops and do soil testing, and the testing of autonomous (driverless) tractors.

JONAH BLANKESPOOR, 7, of Rock Valley, was in the crowd at the “World of Robotics” demonstration at the Clay County Fair on Sept. 10. Here, a robot has been instructed to reach around and pinch his nose — which it did successfully.

“What could be happening right now is that we could have robotics doing the entire (farming) process,” he said. “There doesn’t need to be humans on the farm technologically, but that would disrupt things too much.”

Burrus said robotics work well with plants, but livestock management would be a little more dicey. He said technology is coming that would have cows wear a device that would control them throughout the day.

“Someday we will probably be able to grow beef without the cow,” he said. “It will be living tissue and might be the best beef you’ve ever had, but there would be no cow. What exists now will still exist, but it might cost 10 times more. They will both be the same thing.”

He said this is just a portion of what is coming, but said there is no way of knowing when that technology will be revealed. He added that in the next few years there will be robots that can go faster than any living creature.

“Agriculture goes back in time to way before recorded history” he said. “Consider that we are doubling our knowledge and abilities of science and technology every 18 months, the possibilities of what our future could be are limitless. You can slow it down, but you can’t stop it.”

Burrus said the field of bio-chemistry is making advancements in producing a life form that is not based on any other life form, adding that someday in the future there may be no need to grow crops.

“(Someday) … whatever proteins we need may be assembled by these genetically-altered creatures in a vat of water,” he said. “They’ve already approved genetic engineering of humans in Europe now – looking at humans that will never get cancer, or changing the genes of a human already living so that they won’t get cancer. This is coming on very fast.”

Burrus said because heart transplant lists are long and cannot often be met in a timely manner, human hearts will soon be grown inside pigs – with pigs having a human heart. He said the hearts will be genetically altered so as not reject its recipients.

For the “average Joe,” Burrus said the future calls for people to “learn how to learn,” just as they have for centuries as new inventions have sprung forth.

He said they will be left behind otherwise.

“Humans have infinite potential, and we need to start believing in ourselves and in our infinite potential, and that’s what I’m trying to bring out with the kids,” he said.

For agriculture specifically, he said advancements will begin with the young people.

“What will drive the future and direction of agriculture is the children of the farms that enter the S.T.E.M. fields and continue on to a high level and apply their insights and knowledge from their heritage to their profession,” said Burrus. “They will revolutionize agriculture in ways that can’t be imagined today.”

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