OPINION: Are the Days of Pretty Maps Numbered?

OPINION: Are the Days of Pretty Maps Numbered?

Imagery*GUEST COLUMNIST’S NOTE: 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?*


We’ve all seen them, maps with pretty colored graphs and diagrams, all claiming to provide value to growers. The accompanying rhetoric began by claiming to provide “data” then that phrase morphed into “actionable” data, once readers realized the buzz word “data” did not mean anything. Now the actionable data has become pretty colored graphs.

Soon though, that all may be antiquated with the advent of Neural Dust.

What is Neural Dust you ask? A condensed definition here from Popular Science may explain:

“Each neural dust mote possesses a piezoelectric crystal that can convert mechanical power from ultrasonic pulses broadcast outside of the body into electrical power…electronics in the neural dust motes can alter the pulses that get scattered outward, and so can wirelessly transmit data…in experiments with rats, the researchers found that neural dust motes implanted in the nerve and muscle fibers in the leg could record and transmit electrical data.”

Then there is Artificial Intelligence, which can be broken down into various specific subjects like machine learning or deep learning with the goal that Artificial Intelligence can make decisions on its own.

Scientists then could experiment with combining artificial intelligence, and a form of Neural Dust in plants. Theoretically, growers in the future may be able to wirelessly transmit data into an artificially intelligent machine learning algorithm with a goal of maximizing yield. This could entirely eliminate the need for data to be conveyed via maps, pretty colored graphs and diagrams.

I mean why not, after choosing what crop you want to grow, just plant, set it, and forget it? Software could optimize a specific plant’s individual needs with preset tools without human intervention, without even having to look at pretty colored maps.

Not at all outside the realm of possibility…