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AI for Agrifood Leaders

Playback of the free workshop Rhishi and I conducted few moons ago to explore the potential impact of artificial intelligence in the agri-food sector.

Few weeks ago, Rhishi and I conducted a non-technical workshop on “AI for Agrifood Leaders”. It was widely well-received with interesting questions from the audience all through the workshop (as you’ll hear in the recording) and terrific, heartwarming feedback. Since many of you reached out to access the recording, (and I am crawling out of my post-vacation blues), I wanted to share the unedited video here with all of you.

Given that AI (and its precocious kid Generative AI) is currently leading the hype wave with its attendant collective FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) behaviours, for those of us working in food and agriculture systems, it is important to develop a clear-eyed perspective around where the real possibilities exist.

But worry not! Understanding hype waves ain’t that difficult for those of us who have closely seen the growth of weeds in farms.

Much like weeds do a thankless healing job of protecting bare soil that is hungry for nourishing organic compounds and would have suffered soil erosion otherwise, hype cycles are a necessary, thankless mechanism of frenzied over-investment to build underlying infrastructure (digital and otherwise) through ‘productive bubbles’.

Given our collective experience working in agritech across large landholding and small landholding contexts respectively, Rhishi and I earnestly set out to do a grounded context setting for the potential impact of AI in food and agriculture systems.

Given that this domain is rapidly evolving at such pace to make me revisit few assumptions in this video that have aged only for six weeks, I am, nevertheless, sharing this video, warts and all, for you to understand few “timeless” aspects that we think would help you play joyfully with these shiny new tools without getting infected by the half-baked, anxiety virus going around today about the diminished role of humans in an age of exponential artificial intelligence.

In fact, as we argue in this workshop, AI will only accelerate human possibilities when it reaches the apogee of its potential.

Everything else, including AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) is fiction. Don’t believe me?

Here is a concise summary of the argument in plain English from scientists and entrepreneurs working in the trenches, from their brilliant book, “Why Machines Will Never Rule the World”

From “Why Machines Will Never Rule the World”

For goldfishes reading this, here is a slidey TL;DR version of our “AI for Agrifood Leaders” workshop, although I would strongly recommend you check out the complete recording, available with chapters in the link below (the meat of the talk starts around the eleventh minute after quiz and context setting), before you form premature opinions based on the summary below.

> What is AI?

“ The application of mathematics and software code to teach computers how to understand, synthesize, and generate knowledge in ways similar to how people do it.  AI is a computer program like any other – it runs, takes input, processes, and generates output.  AI’s output is useful across a wide range of fields, ranging from coding to medicine to law to the creative arts. It is owned by people and controlled by people, like any other technology” - Marc Andreessen

Image Courtesy:

> Six Reasons Why AI is here to Stay

  • AI is not a technological fad.

  • AI is like another software. However, it is not as predictable as our conventional understanding of software is.

  • AI will increase the value of training data, (especially in a domain like agriculture where Ashby’s law of Requisite Variety plays out in full blown intensity)

  • Everyone will have an AI sidekick.

  • AI access will be democratized, thanks to creative destruction.

  • AI will increase jobs.

> Two Fundamental Mental Models when it comes to thinking about AI

> How to understand the partnership between Humans and AI?

> Interesting Use-cases on AI in Agrifood Context

> Three Groups of Innovators Betting on AI for Agrifood

> Project Types Ripe for AI

>Understanding AI Agritech Stack

Adapted from Michael Parekh’s model on Building Value over time in his AI: Reset to Zero publication

>Key Takeaways

I hope you enjoy the workshop as much as Rhishi and I enjoyed creating it for you.

P.S. As you can imagine, we’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg in this domain. Rhishi and I plan to launch a mini-simulator course soon to let you play with data and AI.
P.P.S. If you are interested in signing up for this workshop or if you want us to do a customized workshop for your agrifood leadership team, do reach out.

So, what do you think?

How happy are you with today’s edition? I would love to get your candid feedback. Your feedback will be anonymous. Two questions. 1 Minute. Thanks.🙏

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Agribusiness Matters
Agribusiness Matters
Conversations with food and agribusiness leaders bravely building the future of food and agriculture in an age of runaway Climate Change