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Food and Agriculture


Analysis and insight on the future of food and agriculture. Stay updated as Singularity Hub discusses the most important trends impacting agriculture.

What Makes People Distrust Science? Surprisingly, Not Politics

Today, there is a crisis of trust in science. Many people—including politicians and, yes, even presidents—publicly express doubts about the validity of scientific findings. Meanwhile, scientific institutions and journals express their concerns about the...

These 4 Tech Trends Are Driving Us Toward Food Abundance

From a first-principles perspective, the task of feeding eight billion people boils down to converting energy from the sun into chemical energy in our bodies. Traditionally, solar energy is converted by photosynthesis into carbohydrates in...

Leapfrogging Tech Is Changing Millions of Lives. Here’s How

Walking through any city in the US, you may not notice the evidence of centuries of technological progress around you. From the power lines snaking above to the people tapping away on their smartphones...

The Farms of the Future Will Be Automated From Seed to Harvest

Swarms of drones buzz overhead, while robotic vehicles crawl across the landscape. Orbiting satellites snap high-resolution images of the scene far below. Not one human being can be seen in the pre-dawn glow spreading...

NASA Made This Technology for Space—Now, It Will Improve What We Eat

“The human eye has to be one of the cruelest tricks nature ever pulled.” These were Abi Ramanan’s opening words in a talk called "The Future of the Food Chain," presented at Singularity University’s...

Why Empowering Women Is the Best Way to Solve Climate Change

In April of this year, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide reading over 410 parts per million (ppm). This is a brand-new state of affairs, as humans have never...

These Pizza Robots Assemble Perfect Pies in Minutes

Oh pizza, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. Your golden, flaky crust. Your salty-sweet tomato sauce. Your gooey, stretchy cheese. Your predictive algorithms and efficiently automated production line… Wait, what? Sounds like a...

New Film ‘Food Evolution’ Takes on One of the Most Polarizing Scientific Topics

One Tuesday morning, as his family bustled around the house getting ready for the day, Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s phone lit up with a text message from his neighbor. “Can I borrow some organic milk?”...

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Europe’s Huge New Vertical Farm

The Eindhoven High Tech Campus, a 90-minute train ride south of Amsterdam, consists of two rows of nondescript mid-rise office buildings on either side of a wide, tree-lined road. In typical Dutch fashion, there’s...

How Chemistry Is Making Our Food Safer, Better, and More Abundant

Although food scientists often explore new technologies to reduce the percentage of hungry people in the world today, many also have future-oriented mindsets and look at possibilities that could solve food challenges for future...

The Future of Food: To GMO or Not To GMO?

An organic diet has never been more in style than it is right now, with millions of consumers willing to shell out extra dollars for organic foods. Most of us have a vague idea...

How to Feed 9.7 Billion People? CRISPR Gene Editing For Crops

It’s no secret that we’re going to struggle to feed the rapidly expanding global population. New genome editing technologies could hold the answer, according to scientists. The number of humans on this planet is expected...

The Cities of the Future Are Smart, Green, Connected Innovation Hubs

Humanity has come a long way since the very first cities began to emerge about ten thousand years ago. Today, places like New York, Tokyo and Dubai are centers of innovation and human progress....

Cultured Meat Will Remain a Distant Dream Unless We Do These 4 Things

In 2013 the world’s first cell-cultured hamburger was cooked and tasted live on air. Following that event, there have been many mentions of cultured meat in the media. With all this discussion and publicity, it’s easy...

Why Drones Are Finding a Home on the Farm

When I hear the word 'drone', the first thing I think of is a top-secret mission: spying, rescues, clandestine deliveries, and other James Bond-worthy uses of a seemingly mysterious technology. Maybe I've just seen...
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FarmBot Will Grow Your Food For You; Just Press Go

What if you could grow food in your backyard with little to no understanding of gardening? A new robotic system may make this a reality for everybody. Farmbot Genesis is an open source, autonomous...

The Doomsday Vault: An Insurance Policy For the World’s Food Supply

In Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is buried deep permafrost well within the Arctic Circle. The vault was created as a means to preserve human agriculture for an uncertain future. We first wrote...

Your Dinner Is Ready To Be 3D Printed

Over the last few decades, a new wave of science has been infused into the world of food in the form of molecular gastronomy. By definition, food preparation and cooking involve physical and chemical...

In the Future, Our Favorite Animal Products Will Be Animal-Free

A couple years ago, a friend told me he didn’t eat meat because he believed that in the future advanced AI would learn from us and treat humans the way we had treated less...
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These New Technologies Will Be Both Powerful and Planet Friendly

Did you know there is a 25% chance your cause of death will be due to environmental pollution? According the World Health Organization, some 12.6 million people—or nearly 1 in 4 worldwide—died in 2012 due...

Japanese Robotic Farm’s First Harvest Next Year—Half a Million Lettuces a Day in Five Years

In modern times, farming's gone from humanity's top job to a sliver of the economy—a trend that continues today as fewer young people choose to farm. For every farmer under 35 there are 6 over 65, and a quarter of...

How a Robot in the Garden Might Save a Trip to Whole Foods

This summer, I started wondering what you might do to build a small farming robot to manage a home garden. I then discovered the interesting FarmBot project, which has been working on this for...
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Robots, Bioprinting, and the Future of Food [Video]

Emerging technologies are shaking up how we grow food, distribute it, and even what we're eating. We are seemingly on the cusp of a food revolution and undoubtedly, technologies including artificial intelligence will play a huge role in helping...
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Can technology solve the world’s rising food problems? [Video]

Emerging technologies like synthetic meat, GMOs, and robotic farms provide a glimpse of a coming era in which technology solves the world's food problems. But some sobering statistics from the World Food Programme frame the scope of the problem...
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Will Artificial Intelligence Transform How We Grow and Consume Food? [Video]

Today, agriculture is more efficient than ever, but it's also more dependent on environmental, technological, and social issues like never before. Climate change, drought and other disasters, shifting energy landscapes, population growth, urbanization, GMOs, changes in...

A Key Moment In Kenya: What Ed Tech Can Learn From the GMO Backlash

A trailblazing educational technology initiative backed by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the World Bank has been stopped in its tracks by the government of Kenya. When it launched in 2009, Bridge International Academies served...

What Has Science Ever Done for Us? ‘The Knowledge Wars’ Reviewed

The deadbeat boyfriend at the centre of Janet Jackson’s 1986 hit What Have You Done For Me Lately used to take Janet out to dinner almost every night. He used to do a lot...

A Peek at Some of the Coolest Companies in the SU Universe

"Want to become a billionaire? Then help a billion people." "The world's biggest problems are the world's biggest business opportunities." Both of these statements are the way I describe the premise of Singularity University's Graduate Studies...

GSP 2015 Closing Ceremony: Meet 20+ Startups With Revolution on the Brain

Join Singularity University August 20 at San Jose’s California Theatre for the 2015 Graduate Studies Program Closing Ceremony—a night of inspiration, impact, and exciting pitches for 20+ new startups aiming to tackle the world’s biggest challenges....

Feeding Tomorrow’s Billions: Lab-Grown Meat Products, Vertical Farms, AI-Designed Recipes, and More

Food and agriculture accounts for about 5.9% of the global GDP. Global food retail sales alone account for about $4 trillion/year, and food accounts for 15% of what American households spend each year. It is an...

Summit Spain: What Is The Greatest Challenge Humanity Faces Today?

“What is the greatest challenge humanity faces today?” This question was posed by Nick Haan, Director of Global Grand Challenges at Singularity University, to the audience gathered at this year’s Summit Spain in Seville. “It depends...
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Visualizing the Future of Food, Well-Being, and Work with Three Incredible RSA Videos

Powerful lectures chock full of information sometimes can be challenging to process and the need for visualization is so great that ultimately it takes an organization like the RSA to find a highly creative way to illustrate this...

Glimpse the Future at Singularity University’s GSP 2014 Closing Ceremony August 21

Join Singularity University August 21 at Mountain View's Computer History Museum for the 2014 Graduate Studies Program closing ceremony—a night of inspiration, impact, and exciting proposals for over 20 new startups aiming to tackle the world’s biggest...

Lab-Grown Cheese Made by ‘Milking’ Genetically Modified Yeast Cells

If you’re against killing animals for food and clothing or believe industrial farming is too resource intense, you may have given up some of life’s greatest pleasures. No juicy steak for you, no deliciously...

Robots Able to Pick Peppers, Test Soil, and Prune Plants Aim To Replace Farm Workers

At the turn of the last century, nearly half of the American workforce was dedicated to agriculture. Industrial inventions like the steel plow had made farming easier, but it was still grueling labor performed...

“The World in 2025” Predicts Abundant Solar Power and Food, Tailored Drugs, Gene Therapies

In a recently released vision of the future, Thomson Reuters analysts predict solar power will be the dominant form of energy by 2025. Further, the report states genomic testing and manipulation will be common and lead...

Dr. Franken-Tree, I Presume: Using Biotechnology to Battle Extinction

In thirty years of covering (as an author/journalist) and working on (as an entrepreneur/activist) both ecological issues and technological breakthroughs, I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest environmental threat we now face is...

Fasting Helps Cancer Patients Survive Chemotherapy — And It Could Help Us All Live Longer

You’ve probably never heard of Valter Longo, but if you’ve heard about the purported health benefits of intermittent fasting, you’ve likely been exposed to his work. A University of Southern California gerontologist, Longo has...

Singularity Surplus: Sweating Robots, Speaking in Tongues, Where Lab Meat Comes From

Advances in exponential technology happen fast — too fast for Singularity Hub to cover them all. This weekly bulletin points to significant developments to keep readers in the know. In an attempt to make robots...

Link Between Mom’s Diet at Conception and Child’s Lifelong Health, Study Reveals

The mother’s nutrition at the time of conception can permanently and fundamentally affect physical characteristics of her offspring, according to a study just published in Nature Communications, by influencing the child's epigenome.

SCiO’s Handheld Scanner Aims to Detect Food Ingredients and Identify Pills

An Israeli company is offering a flash drive-sized scanner that can tell users what exactly is in the food or medicine on the table using near-infrared spectroscopy.

Raspberry Pi Keeps Wowing Us Even Two Years After Launch

With the Raspberry Pi, a programmable credit card-sized computer, British computer scientists sought to rekindle garage innovation. What would young students do with the power of computing if they could buy a computer for just $35 and access all of its parts?

Fruits and Vegetables Do More to Reduce Cancer and Extend Life Than Many Prescription Drugs

Those who eat seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day cut their risk of death at any age by more than half, compared to those who don’t get a full serving of the foods. The study was able to document the death-defying benefit of each additional daily portion of fruits and vegetables.

Why Farmers Are Connecting Their Cows to the Internet

A Wi-Fi-connected collar called Silent Herdsman monitors cows' movements to determine, with the help of artificial intelligence software, when they are in heat. It may sound absurd, but the name of the game in milk production is impregnating cows as soon as possible after they’ve had their last calf.

Singularity Surplus: Other News in Exponential Sci/Tech From the Week

Potential treatment for deadly brain cancer; climate change shrinks crops; banking your own stem cells just in case.

IBM Markets Watson as Potential Solution to Africa’s Health and Education Woes

IBM recently announced that it will invest in a research program in Africa to improve water and sanitation, agriculture, healthcare and education on the continent using its artificial intelligence platform, Watson.

Amid a Debate That’s Hot As Ever, General Mills Says No GMOs in Its Cold Cheerios

General Mills recently announced they’ll make one their most recognizable breakfast cereals, Cheerios, free of genetically modified ingredients. The controversy surrounding GMOs is, of course, closely related to many of the technologies we cover at Singularity Hub. Fear of genetically modified crops may only be the tip of the iceberg, as biotech moves into the more fraught territory of genetic engineering and therapies in animals and eventually humans.

Burritobox Joins Growing Number of Fast-Food Making Robots

Box Brands has launched the first-ever burrito-making robots at two locations on Santa Monica Boulevard — inside Mobile and 76 gas stations. The orange Burritobox offers 6 types of burrito, including a breakfast burrito, and several sauces. The customer selects the burrito s/he wants and which sauces from a touch-screen menu, then swipes a credit card. One minute later, the machine dispenses a hot “hand”-rolled burrito. Gas-station quality burritos may not be the sexiest use of automation technology, but the Burritobox joins a growing number of fast food-making robots.

New Study: Daily Multivitamins, Supplements ‘A Waste Of Money’

One of the few nutritional recommendations that most doctors seemed to agree with — take a daily multivitamin to plug any gaps in your diet — is facing a serious challenge in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The journal’s current issue features two studies and a meta-analysis which all conclude that multivitamins don’t deliver any significant health benefits.

Handheld Device TellSpec Can Detect Allergens, Chemicals, and Nutrients In Food

A hand-held spectrometer pioneered by Toronto-based TellSpec that can determine exactly what is in the user’s food and display it on his or her smartphone. The idea for the device came from co-founder Isabel Hoffman’s daughter, who suffers from gluten intolerance and other food allergies.

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