News - April 12, 2018

‘Discrimination should be the norm’

Kenneth van Zijl

Bastiaan Vroegindeweij is an enterprising scientist who has developed an egg-collecting robot to the point that it won’t be long before the first one is in use. He defended his thesis at his graduation ceremony on 10 April. Here he defends his sixth proposition, in which he asserts that discrimination should be the norm in society.

Bastiaan Vroegindeweij got his PhD on 10 April for a study of the performance of an egg-collecting robot.

Proposition: Just like in Precision Livestock Farming, society in general should apply discrimination by default.

‘I did rack my brains over this proposition. My first version was: ‘Discrimination should be applied by default’. But as soon as people hear the word ‘discrimination’ you are immediately 2-0 down in the discussion. And yet all it means is making distinctions. Full stop.

When I came up with the proposition I had the principle of Precision Livestock Farming in mind. That is based on the idea that you approach each animal as an individual. So every cow gets what she needs in order to function optimally, to grow, to live. There are already barns in which cows get fed individually according to their needs. After all, not all cows are the same. And the same goes for humans. You should look at each individual separately and ask: who are you and what do you need in order to thrive? Then you get what you need, and no more than that either. At present what often happens is that the individual gets a label: this is who you are, you belong to this group.

I think we could get a long way if we started living by this proposition. It is important to be aware of what is going on around you and what everybody needs. That would produce an ideal society, and that’s what we should be aiming at. Only our society is in a hurry and keeps rushing ahead, and wants to fix everything in rules and regulations. And that isn’t easy to combine with this proposition.’