Sunday, April 15, 2018

"Alphabet X is exploring new ways to use AI in food production" (GOOG)

We've visited Mr. Teller  a couple times, links after the jump. The one re: coffeemakers etc. is a pretty educational read.
Regarding Mr. Teller's first name, it was a high school nickname that stuck. Regarding his last name, his grandfather was Edward Teller, considered by some the evil genius of nuclear weapons research.
(Richard Feynman on the other hand was considered the happy-go-lucky genius of nuclear weapons research)

From MIT's Technology Review, March 27:
Astro Teller says it’s thinking about how to pair machine learning with other technologies to revolutionize agriculture.

Alphabet’s X, the secretive lab charged with finding radical “moonshot” solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, is exploring ways in which AI could dramatically improve food production. Astro Teller, the head of X, revealed the plan at MIT Technology Review’s annual EmTech Digital event in San Francisco.  

Teller declined to give specific examples, saying X’s team hadn’t yet zeroed in on particular approaches, but he hinted that it was looking at how machine learning could be combined with advances in areas like drones and robotics to advance farming practices.

To be worthy of X’s attention, a project must fulfill three criteria: it has to potentially solve a problem that affects millions or billions of people; it has to involve an audacious, sci-fi-sounding technology; and there has to be at least a glimmer of hope it’s achievable within five to 10 years.

AI-driven agriculture seems a perfect fit. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 20 to 40 percent of global crop yields are lost each year to pests and diseases, despite the application of millions of tons of pesticides, so finding more productive and sustainable farming methods will benefit billions of people. As our coverage from this week’s conference shows, AI is certainly an audacious technology, and the speed at which it’s advancing means X’s time frame feels achievable.

Discussing the challenge ahead of his presentation, Teller said that farming is a hugely complex undertaking, so X isn’t taking it lightly. He cited several areas where machine learning could potentially help farmers. One would be using the tech to amplify their expertise in crucial areas like deciding when to harvest crops or apply irrigation....MORE, including video
Google X's Head of Moonshots On the Future of Artificial Intelligence, Robots, and Coffeemakers
Google: "First, kill all the artisans" (GOOG)