Japan, Inc.: World’s First Robot-Run Farm will Harvest 30,000 Heads of Lettuce Daily

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Spread’s new automation technology will not only produce more lettuce, it will also reduce labor costs by 50%, cut energy use by 30%, and recycle 98% of water needed to grow the crops.

 reports: The Japanese lettuce production company Spread believes the farmers of the future will be robots.

So much so that Spread is creating the world’s first farm manned entirely by robots. Instead of relying on human farmers, the indoor Vegetable Factory will employ robots that can harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce every day.

“The use of machines and technology has been improving agriculture in this way throughout human history. With the introduction of plant factories and their controlled environment, we are now able to provide the ideal environment for the crops.”

— J.J. Price, a spokesperson at Spread

Don’t expect a bunch of humanoid robots to roam the halls, however; the robots look more like conveyor belts with arms. They’ll plant seeds, water plants, and trim lettuce heads after harvest in the Kyoto, Japan farm.

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Spread: A worker at the Kameoka Plant. Not a robot.

“The use of machines and technology has been improving agriculture in this way throughout human history,” J.J. Price, a spokesperson at Spread, tells Tech Insider. “With the introduction of plant factories and their controlled environment, we are now able to provide the ideal environment for the crops.”

[Read the full story here, at Tech Insider]

The Vegetable Factory follows the growing agricultural trend of vertical farming, where farmers grow crops indoors without natural sunlight. Instead, they rely on LED light and grow crops on racks that stack on top of each other.

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In addition to increasing production and reducing waste, indoor vertical farming also eliminates runoff from pesticides and herbicides — chemicals used in traditional outdoor farming that can be harmful to the environment. Read the rest of this entry »


Directors Guild Announces TV Nominations

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 reports: Bryan Cranston has received two nominations in the Directors Guild of America’s TV nominations for “Breaking Bad” and for “Modern Family.” The winners will be announced Jan. 25.

MOVIES FOR TELEVISION AND MINI-SERIES

The nominees for the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Mini-Series for 2013 are (in alphabetical order):

STEPHEN FREARS
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (HBO)

Mr. Frears’s Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Managers: Scott Ferguson, Erica Kay
• First Assistant Director: Michael Steele
• Second Assistant Director: Nancy Herrmann
• Second Second Assistant Director: Ellen Parnett

This is Mr. Frears’s third DGA Award nomination. He was previously nominated in this category for Fail Safe in 2000 and for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for The Queen in 2006.

DAVID MAMET
Phil Spector (HBO)

Mr. Mamet’s Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Manager: Lee R. Mayes
• First Assistant Director: Michael Hausman
• Second Assistant Director: Erica Fishman
• Second Second Assistant Director: Catherine Feeny
• Additional Second Second Assistant Director: Eddie Griffith

This is Mr. Mamet’s first DGA Award nomination.

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Just Because You’re Paranoid, Doesn’t Mean You’re Wrong: Ex-Official Says FBI Can Secretly Activate an Individual’s Webcam Without the Indicator Light Turning On

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 reports: The FBI can secretly activate a computer’s webcam to spy on an individual without turning on the indicator light, a former official revealed to the Washington Post in an article published Friday.

According to the Washington Post’s account of what Marcus Thomas — former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico — said, “The FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years, and has used that technique mainly in terrorism cases or the most serious criminal investigations.”

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