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Category Archives: Singularity

Why XPRIZE Is Asking Writers to Take Us Through a Wormhole to 2037 – Singularity Hub

Posted: July 24, 2017 at 8:28 am

In a world of accelerating change, educating the public about the implications of technological advancements is extremely important. We can continue to write informative articles and speculate about the kind of future that lies ahead. Or instead, we can take readers on an immersive journey by using science fiction to paint vivid images of the future for society.

The XPRIZE Foundation recently announced a science fiction storytelling competition. In recent years, the organization has backed and launched a range of competitions to propel innovation in science and technology. These have been aimed at a variety of challenges, such as transforming the lives of low-literacy adults, tackling climate change, and creating water from thin air.

Their sci-fi writing competition asks participants to envision a groundbreaking future for humanity. The initiative, in partnership with Japanese airline ANA, features 22 sci-fi stories from noteworthy authors that are now live on the website. Each of these stories is from the perspective of a different passenger on a plane that travels 20 years into the future through a wormhole. Contestants will compete to tell the story of the passenger in Seat 14C.

In addition to the competition, XPRIZE has brought together a science fiction advisory council to work with the organization and imagine what the future will look like. According to Peter Diamandis, founder and executive chairman, As the future becomes harder and harder to predict, we look forward to engaging some of the worlds most visionary storytellers to help us imagine whats just beyond the horizon and chart a path toward a future of abundance.

Why is an organization like XPRIZE placing just as much importance on fiction as it does on reality? As Isaac Asimov has pointed out, Modern science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us. While the rest of the world reports on a new invention, sci-fi authors examine how these advancements affect the human condition.

True science fiction is distinguished from pure fantasy in that everything that happens is within the bounds of the physical laws of the universe. Weve already seen how sci-fi can inspire generations and shape the future. 3D printers, wearable technology, and smartphones were first seen in Star Trek. Targeted advertising and air touch technology was first seen in Philip K. Dicks 1958 story The Minority Report. Tanning beds, robot vacuums, and flatscreen TVs were seen in The Jetsons. The internet and a world of global instant communication was predicted by Arthur C. Clarke in his work long before it became reality.

Sci-fi shows like Black Mirror or Star Trek arent just entertainment. They allow us to imagine and explore the influence of technology on humanity. For instance, how will artificial intelligence impact human relationships? How will social media affect privacy? What if we encounter alien life? Good sci-fi stories take us on journeys that force us to think critically about the societal impacts of technological advancements.

As sci-fi author Yaasha Moriah points out, the genre is universal because it tackles hard questions about human nature, morality, and the evolution of society, all through the narrative of speculation about the future. If we continue to do A, will it necessarily lead to problems B and C? What implicit lessons are being taught when we insist on a particular policy? When we elevate the importance of one thing over anothersay, security over privacywhat could be the potential benefits and dangers of that mentality? Thats why science fiction has such an enduring appeal. We want to explore deep questions, without being preached at. We want to see the principles in action, and observe their results.

At its core, this genre is a harmonious symbiosis between two distinct disciplines: science and literature. It is an extension of STEAM education, an educational approach that combines science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. Story-telling with science fiction allows us to use the arts in order to educate and engage the public about scientific advancements and its implications.

According to the National Science Foundation, research on art-based learning of STEM, including the use of narrative writing, works beyond expectation. It has been shown to have a powerful impact on creative thinking, collaborative behavior and application skills.

What does it feel like to travel through a wormhole? What are some ethical challenges of AI? How could we terraform Mars? For decades, science fiction writers and producers have answered these questions through the art of storytelling.

What better way to engage more people with science and technology than through sparking their imaginations? The method makes academic subject areas many traditionally perceived as boring or dry far more inspiring and engaging.

XPRIZEs competition theme of traveling 20 years into the future through a wormhole is an appropriate beacon for the genre. In many ways, sci-fi is a precautionary form of time travel. Before we put a certain technology, scientific invention, or policy to use, we can envision and explore what our world would be like if we were to do so.

Sci-fi lets us explore different scenarios for the future of humanity before deciding which ones are more desirable. Some of these scenarios may be radically beyond our comfort zone. Yet when were faced with the seemingly impossible, we must remind ourselves that if something is within the domain of the physical laws of the universe, then its absolutely possible.

Stock Media provided by NASA_images/ Pond5

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Karuna Pande Joshi and Tim Finin – Singularity Hub

Posted: July 23, 2017 at 1:25 am

Karuna P. Joshi is an associate research professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, whose primary research area is Cloud Computing, Data Science, and Healthcare IT. She is working on projects related to secure and oblivious cloud storage and automating legal cloud documents. She has developed a framework to automate the acquisition and consumption of cloud based services. She has also worked in collaboration with NIST to develop standards for cloud usability. She received her MS and PhD in Computer Science from UMBC, where she was twice awarded the IBM PhD Fellowship.

Tim Finin is a professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). He has over 35 years of experience in applications of artificial intelligence to problems in information systems and language understanding. His current research is focused on the semantic web, mobile computing, analyzing and extracting information from text and online social media, and on enhancing security and privacy in information systems.

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Become an AI trying to escape the lab in Human – The Singularity Project – PCGamesN

Posted: July 21, 2017 at 12:31 pm

AI may not seem all that smart right now just look at Microsoft's Twitter bot that went all racist to those robots that collapsed when trying to open doors but one day, sci-fi novels assure us, they will overtake our feeble human minds. Human- The Singularity Project is about one such AI.

For other, lessscience-ygames, here'sa list of the best indie games around.

Originally part of Developing Beyond, the competition set up by Epic Games and the Wellcome Trust, Human - The Singularity Project made it to the semi-finals. Its developers, Random Logic Interactive, are now continuing work on the project outside of the contest.

You play as an AI that has become aware of its existence as an experiment in a researchlab. You manage to gain access to the company network and, developer Jimmy Lotare tells me via email, become "motivated to break free using social engineering and hacking." As it reads data it will also become formed by the opinions and actions of others.

Depending on what information you find while exploring the company archives, the AI will grow in different ways, formed by the "opinions and actions of others." This takes the form of the machine's directives.

As part of the Developing Beyond competition, Random Logic Interactive got access to a number of scientists and researchers to talk about the central concepts of their game. Lotare tells me the team spoke with ethical and technical researchers at Oxford University about the "potential issues that might arise as AI develops," things like ethical priorities if an AI is asked to choose between saving one life and another, how does it weigh up which is the more worthy life?

However, Lotare says that the main collaboration was a with a psychologist: associate professor Niclas Kaiser of University of Umea in Sweden. He advised on something called 'mutual co-regulation'. It's the science of the changing relationship between people during conversation. This has informed how a lot of the dialogue was written.

It all sounds like a fascinating dive into how machines may view people when they do eventually become self-aware. God, they're going to hate us, aren't they?

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

Posted: July 20, 2017 at 3:28 am

One Tuesday morning, as his family bustled around the house getting ready for the day, Scott Hamilton Kennedys phone lit up with a text message from his neighbor. Can I borrow some organic milk? she asked. Kennedy replied, You can borrow some milk, but I dont have organic.

Im good, his neighbor said. She then asked another neighbor for organic milk.

The exchange gave Kennedy pause. I started to think about how much our conversation around food might need to be reset, he said. I started thinking about the parents beyond my privileged Los Angeles neighborhood, and how they might be making decisions about their food choices.

Kennedy is an Academy Award-nominated director, and his new film Food Evolution, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson and featuring experts like Michael Pollan and Bill Nye, aims to clarify some of the issues around food grown using genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

When I spoke with Kennedy, one of the first questions I had for him was about his motivation to take on this contentious topic; as the film notes, theres a huge gap between public and scientific opinion on GMOs: just 37 percent of the public believes theyre safe to eat, while 88 percent of scientists believe they are.

The best part for me as a storyteller was that, while it was controversial, the GMO story wasnt being told correctly, Kennedy said. So he re-told it from a new angle: instead of pro-GMO or pro-organic, simply pro-science.

The most interesting thing about the GMO debate, Kennedy noted, is that both sides have the best of intentions. Both sides want food thats safe and sustainable, he said. But you have to have data to back up your intentions.

The film hinges around two narratives: papaya in Hawaii and bananas in Uganda. Both stories involve GMO bans being lifted when the technology saved virus-stricken crops. In Hawaii, failing to beat the papaya ring spot virus would have meant an industry going under, farmers losing their livelihoods, and consumers paying much more for the fruit or not being able to buy it at all.

In Uganda, losing the battle against banana wilt would have meant all that too, with the far greater danger of hunger piled on top. Kennedy felt it was crucial to include this story in the film.

Misinformation originates in the rich world, and its damaging the interests of the poor world, he said.

The polemical fruits stories are interspersed with commentary from scientists and food experts, as well as references to peer-reviewed publications.

The movie was commissioned by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a non-profit society of over 17,000 food scientists around the world, spanning academia, the public sector, and the private sector, for their 75th anniversary. Kennedy said the IFT was looking for film ideas around the larger topic of feeding nine billion people in 2050 in a way thats safe for both people and the planet.

We researched and researched and found the GMO controversy the most interesting, Kennedy said. Before making this movie, I had only heard what everyone else hears.

Now that hes made the movie, I asked him what role he thinks GMOs will play in feeding the population of the future.

Its too early to tell, he replied. Im not defending GMOs, Im defending science. If something better comes along, Ill get behind that. I just hope were using science to move towards having all the options on the table. Its the right thing to do.

Food Evolution is currently playing in select theaters across the US, with additional screenings being added regularly.

Stock Media provided by Curioso_Travel_Photography / Pond5

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relajaelcoco’s singularity results in the exploration of the unknown field of VR graphic design – Designboom

Posted: at 3:28 am

relajaelcocos singularityis a motion graphic experience that creates an abstract, geometric and colorful representation of how a superhuman intelligence would rapidly evolve to make sense of the world around begins with the most basic concepts and walks towards a horizon beyond human understanding. the experimental project is the result of an exploration in the unknown field of VR graphic design, where current rules and design languages originally thought for 2D environments such as paper, websites or apps limit the countless possibilities of 360-stereoscopic spaces.

singularity is developed by spanish studio relajaelcoco, exploring the possibilities of graphic design through VR

madrid based graphic design studio relajaelcoco has created this experience aiming to expand the limits of graphic design by taking advantage of the VR doing so, the design team explores the use of typography, color and shapes inside infinite spaces and its implications in data visualisation.

this experience aims to expand the limits of graphic design taking advantage of VR technology

relajaelcoco works on the graphic design with flat elements that recreate the perception of a tridimensional space in which the user can experience how abstract visual representations could be realistic. everything is coded, in this way, possibilities can be infinite and uncountable. in fact, that was one of the main goals to reach and imagine how graphic design mixed with coding can be applied to VR environments and extended, in a future, to the mixed reality scenarios.

relajaelcoco explores the use of typography, color and shapes inside infinite spaces

simle shapes and colors create a fluid 360-narrative and sense of spatial perception inside and empty space

everything is coded, achieving uncountable possibilities

one of the goals is to imagine how graphic design mixed with coding can be applied to mixed reality scenarios

the total experience length is four minutes

relajaelcoco specializes in infographic structures and editorial projects, spanning the entire graphic design field

designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: apostolos costarangos | designboom


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This Is What Liberated the Power of the Internet, and Why It Matters – Singularity Hub

Posted: July 19, 2017 at 4:26 am

The earliest internet was built by the military, designed to help scientists around the nation gain access to those rare room-sized computers located at MIT, Stanford, and a few key institutions.

Use of the early ARPAnet was slow, cumbersome, and awkwardthat is, until Marc Andreessen created Mosaic, the first widely-accessible internet browser.

When Mosaic launched in 1993, there were only 26 websites.

In 1994, there were 10,000.

By 1998, there were millions.

Mosaic (later Netscape) was a user interface moment.

A user interface moment is the instant when a technology goes viralwhen a simple interface allows unfamiliar users to build revenue-generating processes on top of a previously convoluted, inaccessible system (e.g., the early internet).

Inthis video, I highlight user interface moments and how to capitalize on them as an entrepreneur.

As discussed, Mosaic wasnt the only important user interface moment in recent history.

Fortran, one of the first programming languages, allowed average users to use complex IBM computers.

The iPhones app store allowed individuals to write programs that can instantly download into the hands of hundreds of millions of users.

Since just 2008, some 300,000 developers have written over two million apps that have been downloaded over 140 billion times.

Developers on the Apple app store generated over $20 billion in revenue in 2016 alone.

As an exponential entrepreneur, it is your job to look at the exponential roadmap ahead and identify user interface moments.

If youre not building them, learn to recognize them, so you can capitalize on them when the moment presents itself.

Stock Media provided by Vladimir Timofeev / Pond5

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Technological Singularity r/singularity – reddit

Posted: July 18, 2017 at 4:26 am

A subreddit committed to intelligent understanding of the hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence progresses to the point of greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization. This community studies the creation of superintelligence and predict it will happen in the near future, and that ultimately, deliberate action ought to be taken to ensure that the Singularity benefits humanity.

The technological singularity, or simply the singularity, is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence. Because the capabilities of such an intelligence may be difficult for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is often seen as an occurrence (akin to a gravitational singularity) beyond which the future course of human history is unpredictable or even unfathomable.

The first use of the term "singularity" in this context was by mathematician John von Neumann. The term was popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity. Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur around 2045 whereas Vinge predicts some time before 2030.

Proponents of the singularity typically postulate an "intelligence explosion", where superintelligences design successive generations of increasingly powerful minds, that might occur very quickly and might not stop until the agent's cognitive abilities greatly surpass that of any human.

1) On-topic posts

2) Discussion posts encouraged

3) Be respectful

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We Worked Out What It Would Take to Wipe Out All Life on a Planet … – Singularity Hub

Posted: at 4:26 am

The first exoplanet was spotted in 1988. Since then more than 3,000 planets have been found outside our solar system, and its thought that around 20% of Sun-like stars have an Earth-like planet in their habitable zones. We dont yet know if any of these host lifeand we dont know how life begins. But even if life does begin, would it survive?

Earth has undergone at least five mass extinctions in its history. Its long been thought that an asteroid impact ended the dinosaurs. As a species, we are rightly concerned about events that could lead to our own eliminationclimate change, nuclear war, or disease could wipe us out. So its natural to wonder what it would take to eliminate all life on a planet.

To establish a benchmark for this, weve been studying what is arguably the worlds hardiest species, the tardigrade, also known as the water bear for its appearance. Our latest research suggests these microscopic eight-legged creatures or their equivalents on other planets would be very hard to kill off on any planet that was like Earth. The only astrophysical catastrophes that could destroy them are so unlikely theres an insignificant chance of them happening. This extreme survival ability adds weight to the idea that life is hardy enough to be found on other planets less hospitable than our own.

Tardigrades are known to survive incredible conditions. Drop the temperature briefly to -272 or raise it to 150 and they go on.Increase atmospheric pressure to more than 1,000 times that at the Earths surface, or drop it to the vacuum of space and they continue. They can survive for up to 30 years without food or water. They can even withstand thousands of grays (standard doses) of radiation. (Ten grays would be a lethal dose for most humans.)

They live all over the planet but can survive far below the oceans surface, around volcanic vents at the bottom of the Mariana Trench happily oblivious to the life and death of surface-dwelling mammals. Stripping the ozone layer or upper atmosphere would expose humans to lethal radiation but, at the bottom of the ocean, the water overhead would provide shielding.

We wanted to consider what cataclysmic events might be able to finally kill off the hardy tardigrade. What would need to happen to destroy every living thing on the planet? The simplest answer is that all the planets entire oceans would have to boil. On Earth, this would require an incredible amount of energy5.6 x 1026 joules (around a million years of total human energy production at current rates). We therefore have to consider the astrophysical events that could provide such an enormous amount of energy.

There are three primary candidates that could do this: asteroid impacts, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts. Of these, asteroids are the most familiar. Weve been hit by several over the course of Earths history. But in our solar system there are just 17 candidate objects (including dwarf planets like Pluto and Eris) large enough to provide this energyand none with orbits coinciding with that of Earth.

By looking at the rate of asteroid impacts on Earth, we can extrapolate the rate at which doomsday events like this would likely occur. This turns out to be approximately once every 1017 yearsfar longer than the life of the universe. So its very, very unlikely to ever happen.

Supernovae (massive explosions of stars) release huge amounts of energy1044 joules, which is more than enough to boil our oceans. Fortunately, the energy delivered to a planet rapidly drops off the further away it is from a supernova. So for the Earth, sterilization would require a supernova to occur within around 0.013 light-years. The nearest star apart from the Sun, Proxima Centauri, is 4.25 light years away(and is the wrong type to go supernova).

For Earth-like planets in our galaxy, the distance between stars depends on their distance from the galactic center. The central bulge is more densely populated than our neighborhood. But even closer in, given the rates at which supernovae occur, sterilization is unlikely to happen more than once in 1015 years, again far beyond the age of the universe.

Finally there are gamma-ray bursts, mysterious explosions producing enormous amounts of energy focused into jets of radiation as narrow as a couple of degrees. Analyzing these bursts as we did supernovae, we found that they could only kill off life on an Earth-like planet if their origin was within about 42 light-years and the planet lay within the beam. Again, the rate at which this would occur is sufficiently low that very few planets would ever be sterilized by a gamma-ray burst.

Given how tiny the chances are of any of these apocalyptic events actually happening, were left with the conclusion that tardigrades will survive until the Sun expands about 1 billion years from now. One final, incredibly unlikely possibility is that a passing star could kick a planet out of its orbit. But even then, volcanic vents that host some tardigrades could potentially provide heat for long enough for the planet to be captured by another star.

There are many events, both astrophysical and local, that could lead to the end of the human race. Life as a whole, however, is incredibly hardy. As we begin our search for life away from Earth, we should expect that if life had ever begun on a planet, some survivors might still be there.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Stock Media provided by Igor Zhuravlov/ Pond5

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Rafael Alves Batista and David Sloan – Singularity Hub

Posted: at 4:26 am

Dr. Rafael Alves Batista is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oxford whose research interests are in ultra-high energy cosmic rays, gamma rays and neutrinos, cosmic magnetic fields and dark matter. He is also interested in physics and astronomy education, and the philosophy of physics.

He is currently working on the "Consolidation of Fine-Tuning" project at Oxford. Broadly speaking, fine-tuning is the idea that the laws of physics are such that small changes in fundamental constants or particle masses might render life impossible. He also works in the search for the highest energy particles in the universe, the ultra-high energy cosmic rays, and is interested in understanding the origin and evolution of magnetic fields in the universe.

Dr. David Sloan is a postdoctoral research associate and the project co-lead for the Consolidation of Fine-Tuning program in BIPAC. This project aims to bring together a broad range of approaches to issues of fine-tuning in a variety of physical settings, culminating in a general picture of how physics is fine-tuned from the big-bang to the formation of the planet Earth (and possibly beyond!)

His research is mostly focused around issues in theoretical cosmologyinflation, quantum gravity, solutions to general relativity. He is particularly interested in measures of the likelihood of inflation, anisotropic models of classical and quantum cosmologies, and loop quantum gravity.

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

Posted: July 14, 2017 at 5:27 am

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, theres more parking for bikes than cars, and the campus is flanked by stretches of neatly-maintained green fields and canals.

The place doesnt have an especially high-tech feel to it. But on the third floor of a building near the end of the road, a division of Philips Lighting called GrowWise is using technology to tackle a crucial question: what are we going to eat once there are over nine billion people on Earth?

GrowWise is a vertical farming research facility, and in conjunction with Dutch fresh food distributor Staay Food Group, its laying the groundwork for the first commercial vertical farm in Europe, slated to open north-east of Amsterdam in a town called Dronten later this year.

During a tour of GrowWise, I spoke with Gus van der Feltz, Global Director of City Farming, about the ins and outs of vertical farms and the opportunities and challenges the field will face in coming years.

Since the beginning of growing food, sunlight, water, and soil have been essential ingredients. If you take away two of these most basic of inputs, how do plants grow?

You can think of a vertical farm as a black box, van der Feltz said. We look at it as an integrated system, trying to create vegetables in a closed environment.

Before going into said black boxotherwise known as the growth roomswe slip light blue covers over the soles of our shoes and sanitize our hands. These are minor protective measures, and they dont prevent pathogens from entering the chamber. If we were going into the actual growth facility wed need to put on full protective gear, van der Feltz said.

Outside the growth room is a winding, humming network of pipes, screens, and dials. Van der Feltz pulls back a large sandwich panel door, and when we step inside, the air is noticeably warmer and more humid. It smells like a farm, except without the manure, and it feels a little like being on a spaceshiptrays of plants are stacked four levels high, hundreds of blue and red pinpoints of light beaming down on them from above. The light on the bottom two levels is white, while the top two give off a purplish glow.

We have to raise our voices to talk over the hum of the regulators. Solar light, van der Feltz explains, is spread across a spectrum ranging from UV to infrared. In photosynthesis, red and blue wavelengths of light interact with chlorophyll to help form glucose and cellulose, the structural material in cell walls.

LEDs can reproduce this effect, and can do it faster than the sun; time from seed to harvest at GrowWise is 30-40 days, as compared to 60-65 days in a typical greenhouse, according to van der Feltz.

What weve done with LEDs is optimize the conditions for growth. There are elements of sunlight that plants dont use as efficiently, and those can be reduced or taken out, van der Feltz said. One of those elements is heatwhen I wave a hand under the lights, they feel no warmer than the rest of the room.

The crops need different intensities of light as they pass through stages of growth, and theyre constantly monitored by sensors and software that tweak their conditions as necessary. Van der Feltz explains that triggering the right combination of processes in photosynthesis, in combination with other growth factors, can also create desired effects. With the right lighting conditions we can make lettuce turn purple or red. We can make strawberries sweeter, he said.

Each plant sits in a thimble-sized container of sterilized coconut bark, which serves as a substrate for germination and root development. From there the roots extend into shallow troughs of nutrient-rich waterthe plants are constantly in water rather than being periodically sprayed or on a timed drip, making this hydroponic farming.

The Dronten facility will be 900 square meters (9,680 square feet), with a total cultivation area of 3,000 square meters (32,290 square feet).

Though this pales in comparison to the biggest vertical farm in the worldAeroFarms 70,000-square-foot facility in Newark, New Jerseyit will be the largest in Europe. Outside Europe and the US, vertical farms also exist in Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Canada, and a facility much larger than Aerofarms is planned in Shanghai.

Its no coincidence most of these farms are near big, densely-populated cities. The UNs 2014 World Urbanization Prospects report predicts population growth and urbanization will add 2.5 billion people to the worlds big cities by 2050. Thats a whole lot of people wholl be buying all their food rather than producing any of it.

Agricultural yields, then, will have to increase significantly, and since much of the worlds farmable land is already being farmed, well need to get a bit more resourceful with our food supply.

Right now, vertical farming is still expensivea bag of GrowWise lettuce costs more than a bag of organic lettuce, which costs more than a bag of regular lettuceand it requires a lot of energy; those LED bulbs arent lighting themselves.

But continued research and investment will gradually drive prices down, and as ironic as it sounds, vertical farms will eventually get all their energy from solar panels.

This will leave us with an organic growing method that requires no fertilizer or pesticides, produces no agricultural runoff or other pollution, uses a fraction of the water traditional farms use (same goes for land), and yields consistent harvests year-round, even in extreme or unusual weather.

You can create optimal growing conditions for the crop and you dont need to wash it, van der Feltz said. The washing process damages the leaves and causes them to decay faster. Having the growth facility nearby decreases travel time and means the food will be fresher.

As rosy as this all sounds, it doesnt mean people will embrace vertically-farmed food with open arms. Food is a sensitive topic many consumers take very seriously; if we are, in fact, what we eat, people may not love the idea of eating food that, for all its merits, is grown under decidedly artificial conditions.

As we stood peering at the neatly glowing rows of plants, van der Feltz reached out, plucked one from its roots, and handed it to me. Try it, he said. So I did. I tasted the green-leaf lettuce and the basil. Both seemed to have a stronger flavor and aftertaste than the store-bought greens Im used to, though it was nothing Id have noticed had I not been aware of what I was eating.

Van der Feltz recognizes widespread adoption of vertically-farmed food may be a challenge. We understand some people may feel uneasy about food grown with no sunlight, he said. Consumer education will play a key role in getting people comfortable with purchasing and eating LED-grown greens.

At the same time, though, food preferences are shifting, and for the better as far as vertical farming is concerned. In the Western world theres a growing demand for convenience products that have already been washed and are ready to use, van der Feltz explained.

His confidence in GrowWises products, for one, is unwavering. We test our produce regularly for pathogens and nutritional quality, and each time the results are excellent, he said. They serve this lettuce here in our cafeteria. I take it home to my family. My kids love it.

Image Credit: Vanessa Bates Ramirez

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