Farmbeats: AI & Nature Combine to Keep Us Fed

By 2050 we need to increase food production by 70% to feed the growing population and it can not be done simply by farmers intuition, we need AI. Thankfully Microsoft has developed Farmbeats which uses technology to predict the best times to plant, grow, and harvest for certain crops that reduces waste and increases production.  This is an opportunity for us to quite literally get back to our roots and redefine the food production process, even for small businesses.

Impact on the government contracting market 

Most of the government contracts for agriculture come in the form of conservation consulting and equipment maintenance. Now with this type of technology IT can get in the game. Through  government subsidies for farmers this allows a space for them to create a budget to use this technology and hire a small IT business to maintain, upgrade, and consult on how to improve harvests.  By using Farmbeats, the once separate consulting and maintenance contracts are blended and create a new revenue stream that benefits everyone. From my understanding this is not available to be subsidized just yet. However  I see an opportunity where small IT businesses can make a large impact in this field and possibly create teaming opportunities that would benefit local and national economy by employing more farmers, IT workers, and producing harvests that will over-exceed the need for more fresh produce.

See how this works at the Dancing Cow farm.



Driving Blind: Self Driving Cars

The idea of a self driving car is spectacular. Imagine sitting in traffic and you don’t have to endure your leg cramping, back hurting, and the impending rage filled honking because someone dared to try to come into your lane, just to sit there. Now that is the car’s problem. While you can stretch out in the back, have a snack, and wait for the rubbernecking traffic to be over. At the same time, that sounds horrifyingly irresponsible! What if a deer suddenly runs in to the road or debris from a truck scatters along the street. How can we rely on the reaction time of a self driving car? What can we expect from a machine that can not see?

The Opportunity

I believe there are opportunities with every type of technology and these self driving cars are no different. As explained the video the car ‘sees’ with LIDAR and Mach-Zehnder mudulator. These devices work together to create the ‘eyes’ of the machine and that got me thinking. Any type of machine needs maintenance. Therefore to continue to evolve this technology there will need to be teams in place to execute that evolution. There are already driverless arsenal and supply trucks for the military in development which means there will be companies that want to manufacturer and maintain said trucks, which opens opportunities for government contractors to create something incredible for the future.

Seeing the dilemma

In the movie I, Robot there is a scene where Will Smith’s character is discussing the lack of ethics in robots. He and a family with a little girl got into a car accident and ended up in a river. A nearby robot saw the accident and calculated that Will Smith’s character had a 45% chance of survival and  the girl had an 11% chance of survival. Since his character had a higher chance of survival the robot saved him and let the girl drown. He reaffirmed his story by saying ‘That was somebody’s baby, 11%  chance is more than enough. A human being would have known that.’

Remembering this scene makes me think about the ethical dilemma when a car with it’s  incredible ‘eyes’ must maneuver in traffic thinking about the safety of the driver over the safety of the cars, motorists, or pedestrians around them. While LIDAR and Mach-Zehnder mudulator can sense different objects around it or coming up on the road, can it make a decision on how to keep everyone in the car and on the road alive. The problem is self-driving cars are not the norm currently. And the adjustment will be a rough one because you will have humans and robots interacting and trying to co-exist.

Once again there is an opportunity here. I would love to be able to lean back and let the car do it’s thing. However knowing that the technology still needs to perfect it’s ethical ‘human’ side, it’s not quite time for us to be solely reliable on self-driving cars. The opportunity for companies is to employ more robotic, mechanical, and driving experts to create more margins for error so that the robot can function simultaneously on a mechanical and human level so it won’t be driving blind without ethics.



Technology that will save our lives

Technology has come a long way from the room sized computers and now offer a vast amount of sustainable solutions in the palm of our hands.  We watch our youth be attached to their technology like their life depends on it. However in some cases it does. I came across an article about some of the advancements in technology this year and these are the four things that made be believe things are changing for the better.

Robotic Dexterity, not as frightening as it seems

It may seem like something out of a movie, but robots having dexterity comparable or identical to a humans is an opportunity for job growth. While there are arguments about removing the human element from medicine to fast food there are more possibilities with this type of technology for people to learn new skills in technology maintenance, reduce hazards and risks handling toxic chemicals or environments, and perform procedures in the medical field. Although the materials, coding, and responsiveness is not perfected yet, it is certainly on the way.



Being prepared for a premature baby 

Unfortunately some babies are born prematurely and it can result in death before the age of five. A bioengineer from Stanford, Stephen Quake, has created a way to test for premature births and create strategies to prevent or hold off an early birth for better chance of survival. The non-invasive blood test will look for a chemical imbalance that would cause premature birth.


Gut Probe

According to the MIT Technology review this swallowable capsule is small enough to inspect your digestive tract instead invasive surgery and without anesthesia. This is quite the breakthrough that will provide results without pain or recovery and provide early detection for different diseases. See the description below.

Tearney’s swallowable capsules contain miniature microscopes. They’re attached to a flexible string-like tether that provides power and light while sending images to a briefcase-like console with a monitor. This lets the health-care worker pause the capsule at points of interest and pull it out when finished, allowing it to be sterilized and reused. (Though it sounds gag-­inducing, Tearney’s team has developed a technique that they say doesn’t cause discomfort.) It can also carry technologies that image the entire surface of the digestive tract at the resolution of a single cell or capture three-dimensional cross sections a couple of millimeters deep.




What in the world is an ECG?

An ECG is Electrocardiography or EKG that is used to record heart beats. Now this technology is available in smart watches that will monitor hearts. This is especially important for women overall who suffer different symptoms of heart disease than a man. By wearing these types of devices people can spot any irregularities.  There is also an available option for detecting strokes in mobile technology that would detect the lead up to outward symptoms such as a droopy face and numbness, just by simply checking your ECG app and tool.