This Week I Learned – Robotic Dairy Farming, the Reincarnation of Steel, EULAs, And More

One of my pet themes on this blog is innovation, and this week’s standout is a 15-minute TV segment from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (with accompanying transcript) on how dairy farmers are deploying robots, automating their processes, and collecting data on their cattle. If that sounds interesting and you have fifteen minutes to spare, I highly recommend watching the linked video. (It also echoes a book I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Tyler Cowen’s Average Is Over, about the effects of automation on our lives!)


Another of my favourite themes is cultural and economic interchange, and here is a piece on several medieval-era coins from the African sultanate of Kilwa that ended up an ocean away, on an island off the Australian coast. How did they get there? It must have been a fascinating journey. For a rather more modern form of globalisation, author Adam Minter takes a look at the process by which steel from junked American cars ends up in China and Thailand.


How many times have you actually read EULAs before clicking “I agree”? One of my favourite observers of economics and finance, Professor John Kay, argues it is not just sensible but rational to click through (his article is worth a read):


Samsung and Apple are plainly in business for the long term, and their continued success depends on maintaining their reputation with their customers. It is unlikely that these agreements contain anything seriously damaging to my interests, and if they did I am reasonably confident that the combined forces of judges, legislators, regulators and the press would protect me.


Meanwhile, a few days ago, South Korea celebrated this year’s Hangul Day — the 567th anniversary of the creation of Hangul, the modern Korean alphabet. Here is an interesting look at the origins of the alphabet.


The rest of this week’s links are breezier, but may be worth a glance. Yummy-sounding food is coming to venues you might not expect around Washington DC: petrol stations. Over in Germany, mushroom-hunting can be serious business. And did you know that at Oktoberfest this year, “only” one set of false teeth was lost?

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