"The simple truth is that farming is profoundly unnatural." -Tom Standage, An Edible History of Humanity
Humans have been manipulating ecosystems to serve our needs for thousands of years. Three major agricultural revolutions have radically changed human behavior over the last 10,000 years, and the 21st century is no different. New types of farms, farmers and tools are racing to meet the needs of the nine billion humans that will live mostly in mega-dense urban centers in our near future, with limited access to soil...but easy access to data.
The MIT Open Agriculture Initiative is proud to have the new Personal Food Computer on display as part of the Nature-Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, the Barbican Centre's AI: More than Human exhibition, and the Victoria and Albert Museum's "Food: Bigger Than the Plate" exhibition, running 2019-2020.
The installations prompt considerations of "what's natural" in future food and agricultural systems, and who currently has—and will have—access to the data that creates nature’s unique codes for flavor, bounty and nutrition. In the larger contexts of food, nature, and AI, OpenAg asks visitors to consider technology’s inextricable role in our complex food system, and humans' roles in encoding, decoding, and recoding plant phenomena, designing climate, and democratizing farming.
What does the next agricultural revolution look like? Will open source tools and data, radical transparency, machine learning, AI, and citizen-science experimentation propel agricultural innovation that nourishes humans, nurtures nature, and meets both our needs to flourish?