One of the current focuses regarding Artificial Intelligence is on ethics. For example, on 8 April 2019 the European Commission published its Communication Building Trust in Human-Centric Artificial Intelligence. Google, despite set backs, also tries to implement an AI ethics board (Kelsey Piper, “Exclusive: Google cancels AI ethics board in response to outcry“, Vox, 4 April 2019).

However, ethics cannot be detached from the reality and practicality of AI. Both must feed into each other. Therefore, we need to look at the way AI is or will be very concretely used, beyond an ill-defined “black box AI”. We need to understand its drivers. We need to understand the stakes (Artificial Intelligence – Forces, Drivers and Stakes). And we need to assess the impacts AI will have on governance, management, security and international relations.

In this article, we focus upon the way various actors include AI in farming and thus envision and develop the future of agriculture, indeed what is called “smart agriculture”. We then assess major impacts and consequences. We look at the best way to develop and integrate AI into real life activities. Meanwhile, we assess the impact of smart agriculture not only on agriculture security, but also on governance and geopolitics.

This is the second part of our article exploring the way artificial intelligence is inserted within its environment through the Internet of Things in a particular domain, agriculture (see first part).

This two-parts text belongs to the series focusing on the interface between artificial intelligence and its environment, as well as related impacts on society, politics and geopolitics (“Inserting Artificial Intelligence in Reality“). It dives deeper into the twin interface that allows integrating AI in human reality, looking notably for actuators.

Content – Published in two parts (see here for the first part). The table of contents becomes interactive only for members.

  1. The IoT, an ideal ecosystem for AI-agents
    1. A brief history of the IoT, or the development of an ideal ecosystem for AI
    2. The IoT and its domains of applications
  2. AI and IoT in action – Smart Agriculture
    1. Facing the challenges of food security
    2. Smart agriculture as an answer to food security
    3. Corporate actors – The road beyond sensors and digital-digital output only
  3. Impacts and consequences
    1. Surprise, Surprise! Those key actors for the spread of AI …
    2. Knowledge is power
    3. Smart food security?

As a brief summary and reminder, in the first part, we looked at the Internet of Things (IoT) as an ecosystem within which AI-agents may find and use sensors and actuators and thus become fully operational and thrive. Thus, we first explained what is the IoT and why it is a favorable ecosystem for AI-agents.

Second, we started the case study on “smart agriculture” aka the Internet of Food. We explained what is smart agriculture and how it is an answer to the challenges of current and future food security.

Now, with the second part of the article we look at how companies, from giant ones to start-ups and projects, including smart urban agriculture and a brief first assessment of China’s smart farming, insert AI-agents in the real world. We notably highlight “John Deere FarmForward 2.0 – Revolutionizing agriculture, one plant at a time”, which goes way beyond what the usual giant actors of the digital world, such as the U.S. GAFAM promote.

John Deere’s video and others’ endeavours help us imagine how smart farming will look like. Their effort at creating not only sensors, but also actuators is crucial.

Finally, we turn to the impacts and consequences of smart farming. We find first that, considering the stage of development of AI, those actors that are currently crucial to see a further implementation of AI are not the giant digital companies, but those offering a real operationalisation of AI in the physical world. We then highlight how new beholders of data and thus related knowledge could impact the power of traditional actors. Third, we look at the new security needs of agriculture, including within the context of climate change, and how this potentially will increasingly impact international relations and geopolitics.

Corporate actors – The road beyond sensors and digital-digital output only

The giants of the digital world and very large companies

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FULL ARTICLE 6353 WORDS – pdf 23 pages – plus bibliography


Featured image: viya0414 via Pixabay, Public Domain.


Bibliography and References

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Fourtané, Susan, “IoT and Smart Agriculture Are Building Our Future Cities Today“, Interesting Engineering, 7 October 2018.

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Lavoix, Helene, “How to Analyze Future Security Threats (3): Scenarios as an Organic Living System“, The Red (Team) Analysis Society, 16 December 2013

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About the author:

Dr Helene Lavoix, PhD Lond (International Relations), is the Director of The Red (Team) Analysis Society. She is specialised in strategic foresight and warning for national and international security issues. Her current focus is on Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Science, and Security. She teaches at Master level at SciencesPo-PSIA.

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