Robot-ready : How apple producers are assembling in anticipation of new AI robotics

Legun, Katharine; Burch, Karly


With the growth of new collaborative design (co-design) strategies for technology development, and increasing media attention on future automation of the farm, food producers are aware of new robotics on the horizon. This paper will discuss how apple growers are anticipating new robotic technologies intended to use artificial intelligence (AI) to automate aspects of the farm, paying particular attention to the ways that anticipation relates to preparatory assembling and reassembling of landscapes, work, and institutions. Our analysis considers the varying ways growers are practically assembling their orchards in anticipation of new technologies, and how their actions map onto ecological systems, labour relations, and farm capitalization. Our findings reveal some of the challenges to democratic forms of engagement with a robotic future, as well as some of the ways that growers enhance their capacity to engage meaningfully with new technologies.