Google’s Alphabet pushes smart tech into farming
Farmers could get a helping hand in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) aimed at improving the production of food.
Or at least that the plan of X, the experimental tech and R&D division of Google’s parent company Alphabet.
It’s head, the excellently named Astro Teller, revealed the Alphabet’s latest AI ambitions at the EMTech Digital even run by MIT Technology Review, where he explained that machine learning could be used with drones and robots to figure out the best time to harvest crops and farm in parts of the world messed up by climate change, as well as better predicting how pests can affect food production.
“I’ve been saying for years that agriculture, food production [is] one of the biggest industries in the world, it’s one of the least digitally enabled, technology enabled industries in the world, and it’s one of the […] limiting steps for humanity,” said Teller. “So it has been true for a long time that X was like ‘we have got to do a moonshot, maybe several moonshots, in this space.”
And by moonshots, Teller means projects that look to push the limits of tech to improve an industry or solve one of the world’s major problems; in this case the lack of food going round to feed some seven billion humans clinging onto the planet.
Teller didn’t spell out any particular projects or tech that X will use to improve farming, but he did tout machine learning as a key part of bringing more digital tech to good old farming.
He said thanks to machine learning X is “making progress in a couple of different areas”, but it’ll be some time before such smart tech shakes up the complex world of agriculture and food production.
But that’s classic X behaviour, whereby it has a lot of interesting things going on but nothing that’s ready to go; think Project Loon, it’s internet beaming balloon moonshot which has seen some success in tests but isn’t about to bring Wi-Fi to deepest darkest Peru or indeed Wales.