SciFi in Ag: Chatbot with your Plants?

(Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The purpose of this is purely entertainment, but hey, if we can spread ideas or ignite imaginations, how awesome is that?)


Equifax was hacked about two months ago, spewing out hundreds of millions individual records with highly personal information –– including data on me. Likely all this data is headed for the black market to be dispersed all over. Criminals will then purchase small chunks of this data in order to stay off the radar.

Equifax’s outdated, on-premise infrastructure was prone to vulnerabilities. This was what caused them to get hacked in such a massive way, in addition to a two month installing delay of a new security system. Equifax didn’t have a modern cloud infrastructure that even small Farm Management System companies today are deploying.

What is interesting about Equifax’s data is that even though it is data on you, it’s not your data; it’s data someone else collected about you and is now selling for a profit. Equifax actually started in the late 1800’s when two brothers went door to door and collected the information shopkeepers kept on their customers about who they could trust to pay their bills back. From here, the brothers created a book with the information and sold it for 25 bucks a year per copy.


It’s a 125 year old industry at least, and to my knowledge no one has died because of it. About everyone that reads this will have a credit score. If you are a farmer the equivalent would be having a yield score from which landowners decide whether to rent or charge you based on the quality of yields you produce. I guess that is like sharecropping. When did landowners become risk averse anyway? I digress.

The fascinating part of the Equifax debaqual is not that Equifax wasn’t using secure cloud infrastructure or that they have been doing this for over a hundred years, but rather the types of responses that came out of the breach.

A company that created a chatbot to get you out of parking tickets (with over 70% success rate, mind you) created a chatbot to help you sue Equifax. It will do everything except show up to court for you.

But wow! It’s real, the chatbot works. And sometimes it takes a painful experience to make a change in order to drive technology.

But it works.

Even more, chatbots can work for agriculture too. We also can get ahead of the curve, and do so without having to live through a painful experience like Equifax.

As digital agronomic solutions get better, data gets bigger and more abundant, and as AI platforms get smarter, it’s only natural that chatbots become a necessity to interact, decipher, and control the technology.

Chatbots could also scour news articles and information on crop yields around the globe to answer questions specific to your situation. The bots could tell you how much to sell based on what’s in storage, what’s in your growing process, and all the news happening around the world––endless opportunities for a wealth of knowledge.

You could even ask a chatbot to order inputs for you, or fill out the information to make grain sales––not just generic questions.

Why waste your time filling out paperwork or talking over the phone? Or even further, why waste time filling out an order on your phone? Just tell a chatbot to take care of it.

Another brilliant chatbot is one that negotiates your cable and internet bill for you. It exists, and I assume it works even though I haven’t tried it out for myself yet. So why not a chatbot that negotiates your grain offers or your custom combining rate?

Not outside the realm of possibility…

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