# How AI Can Help to Propel Us Towards a SUSTAINABLE FUTURE – Back on the WAVE with Food Systems

And as the material and digital realms become ever more intertwined by the day, artificial intelligence – or ‘intelligence amplified’ – will provide the all-important blueprint for the path ahead. This is precisely where AI can make a notable difference in the world, as I saw during this year’s TNW (The Next Web) Conference. There, the digital artist and activist Fei Wang installed what he called ‘a large-scale time-lapse camera’ that projected footage of plants growing in his soil-less farming system, which contains no environmental pollution or animal abuse. Wang’s installation asked us to ‘recognise the potential of ecological farming and the end of food production’s destructive paradigm’.

The Eye-Opening Installation: "Food for Thought"

She calls it ‘Food for Thought’, an immersive installation that uses AI-generated images to highlight the realities of the industrialised food industry, which she hopes to expose to public attention. ‘We don’t have to change our values or our essential nature. We can be smart about technology and use it to optimise a world that many of us would like to live in’ Wang combines data about food production, consumption, and waste into images generated by an AI. According to her, the project ‘captures a specific perspective on this process, highlighting the troublesome by-products of an industry that desperately needs to be reformed’.

Unveiling the Problem: The Toll of Industrial Agriculture

It’s industrial agriculture, after all, that sits at the epicentre of our food system problems, and is also responsible for many of the world’s worst environmental maladies, from greenhouse gases to the depletion of water and deforestation. Through the prism, Wang’s food images take on new meaning, allowing us to see how much food we waste and how badly we manage production and distribution. Food for Thought is about trying to get people to become more conscious about these problems, to think more responsibly about what they eat.

AI’s Role in Cultivating SUSTAINABILITY

Wang’s work is indicative of the faith we place in the power of AI to lead a green revolution: AI can process huge swathes of data and identify trends in ways that our human eyes can’t. It can help us to produce more food, reduce waste and increase efficiencies in our distribution systems. In Wang’s installation, AI could bring a new approach to our food system through data.

Sparking a New WAVE of Advocacy through "Food for Thought"

The influence of ‘Food for Thought’ could be profound, helping to build a new generation of environmental leaders. The work goes far beyond visual communication because the images force us to contemplate our behaviour. Food for Thought is an example of how art and technology can come together to create a movement toward change on a deep cultural level.

The Horizon of Sustainable Food Systems

To sustainably navigate climate change, population increases, and the shortage of food, new approaches are needed – and this installation by Wang demonstrates the sort of thinking that’s required for supporting a more sustainable, equitable, and efficient food system. Using artificial intelligence and data-driven approaches, we’re nearing a new WAVE of food production that is both sustainable and humanitarian.

Conclusion: A Call to Arms

Food for Thought by Fei Wang is a call to arms and a means to understand why and how we engage with the food we eat and how it comes into being. The rehabilitation of our food systems through the path of AI and the insights it will bring is our best bet to increasing our and our planet’s chances of continued survival. In the 21st century, the mantra being ‘you can’t beat them so join them’ and ‘you can’t change the world, but you can change the world one person at a time’, are apt. It is vital to remember the power of collective action, and the potential the use of technology brings to us. Let’s surf to change the world!

Understanding WAVE

At its heart, throughout the piece, the idea of ‘wave’ is used as a metaphor for this movement in the march to sustainable and ethical food production – the tech trajectory of AI and data, riding the wave, is the drive of this new world of conscientious consumption. Riding the wave is the way to tag on to the forces of change.

Jun 15, 2024
<< Go Back