Digital robots keep tabs on people, may be used to guide grazing cows

Duane Dailey

The digital age arrived and I wasn’t ready. I can’t recall my password to read about it.

I’ve spent most of my life with printed pages. I still prefer ink on paper for reading. My grandson can’t understand why I don’t read e-books. “You can carry 50 books with you,” he said. But, could I find the book I want to read as I settle in for my daily learning session,

Just now opening my laptop to write, my fingers faltered. I typed a start of the last passcode it took me so long to learn. MU requires us to change passwords at least once a year. They insist on difficult-to-remember mixed upper and lower case letters, numerals and characters. If I use a word that’s in a dictionary the robot will stop me to start over.

Right now I can’t gain full access to Twitter. What is my password?

It was on Twitter that I learned that robots will do so much of what I spent a lifetime learning to do. Some newspapers use robots to write small everyday stories.

My background interferes with my advance. When I read the latest on what artificial intelligence (AI) can do, I get sidetracked from AI (artificial insemination). I’m still thinking of that old familiar AI known to cattle breeders. Quite different.

Maybe the bovine bulls promote all of this new AI for me to learn.

Just a day ago, I read that robots can now be programmed to write computer code. I leap forward to think that robots can create code to make baby robots. AI is getting mixed up with AI seems to me.

I’ve seen up close a use of AI robots in patrolling the University parking lots I am assigned. Until recently, MU hired students to patrol the lots, checking numbers on hangtags on review mirrors. That number should match the lot number. If not, you got a ticket. Parking fines have become a new source for revenue generation.

Student patrols are gone. Now campus security cars go up and down rows of cars. A digital camera reads license plate numbers. No more looking at hangtags. But, that robot program is common on many city police cars. You’ve likely been scanned.

And, a recent flush of photos sent by e-mail from campus police ask for help in identifying people. They get ID’s quickly. I didn’t know there were so many security cameras on campus. But, they help nab wrongdoers.

The shooter at the Annapolis newspaper wouldn’t give his name. But, police ran his mug shot through the file of state driver’s license photos on file. Soon, the robot had his name. Face recognition has become common. You see it on Facebook.

Back to those digital books. I may soon wish I was in the digital age.

A common trend among friends my age is to downsize their holdings.

Both the read and unread overflow bookcases. I rarely throw away a book. And, I save too many New Yorkers and Missouri Ruralists.

Now, I did see this week a photo on Twitter of a hearse with a U-Haul trailer in tow. I suspect that is a fake-news joke. No U-Haul for me.

The digital age has come to farm fields. Precision agriculture refines treatment to the many different soil zones in any given field.

This spring I attended a series of MU seminars on new data collection tools. At the Forage System Research Center, MU scientists study different ways to measure grass growth. This may be useful in planning rotations in management-intensive grazing. Robots may guide cows to fresh new grazing paddocks.

The robot measures grass faster than a farmer with a grazing stick. The digital tool may be on a four-wheeler, a drone, or a satellite in space. Digits are gathered many ways.

Farmers will be adapting tools the government uses to keep tabs on people.

Send digits to