I am working on ideas for the next step in bringing healthy food and products for health online in the united states. The first thing I realized is that people say a lot in the country and probably really don’t mean it. It is like hearing people asking, “how are you?” yet in the time you start to answer, they already walked away. Call it a cultural habit?
The other thing I said to a guy as we look about new space is “in Switzerland if a guy says something, he means it. What bothers me in the states is that it is starting to appear that you need a contract just to wipe your buttocks.” I could hear the reality in his sigh and response, as he is younger and still in the game of capitalism and success is getting more stuff. How does this all dovetail into urban farming? Just read on…
A few days ago, I was walking along Hudson yards in New York City. It is a series of development that I have watched go up over the past several years. There was a space called the “hive” that always captured my imagination, as I thought it was an encased building, not just a walkway path that while really interesting to my mind – when I saw it, I was like, “ok, I guess this will be the new selfie space for tourists?” It is a bit like oculus in the new world trade center – a really neat space – yet – once you have seen or been there once, it quickly fades away in your mind or memory. As I type this, perhaps I am spending too much time in nature and the sound and frequencies of nature – sans human noise? When I look at what man comes up with, I think, “witty, clever, interesting…but it doesn’t touch my heart and soul resonance very well…it isn’t alive.”
So as I was walking to see the Hudson yards, my brain was looking at the new skyscrapers that will house the extremely high value net worth global citizens that are all fronted by the tax advantages of LLC’s. I looked at the small spaces for most of the rest of the citizens and the decay of the subway lines under the ground, and I wondered, “how could you feed the people with urban farming?”
On trajectory is where genetic modification and lab-grown meat, eggs, and vegetable proteins will be marketed as “good and healthy” options to society. In the future, I can see a version of food where most folks plug into a feed station and some liquid slurry that has all the vitamins and minerals is pumped into the person. No need to chew or drink “energy” drinks.
Another possible trajectory has me thinking like a futurist and imagining where the advanced artificial intelligence and in particular the machine learning with robotics will take the future of controlled environment agriculture. From a technological view, this is all really fascinating and cool with what the future of sensors, controls, automation, programming, and robotics will be doing with the systems of tomorrow. What it has me ask is, “what will people need or do in those times? Just sit around and graze?” while there will be a
The question that still stymies me is that in 2050, three out of four people will be living in a mega city or densely packed urban environment. You have this in places like Hong Kong, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, and Mumbai. Depending on where you live, it is either vertical or horizontal distribution. While I believe the new materials with graphene and manufactured super strength materials will dramatical improve, I don’t know if it will improve enough to keep up with the urban populations going extremely vertical to allow for farms to be cost effective with the value of square footage costs/worth? My concern for the united states is you will have a sprawl where a few super wealthy will live in the city center, and the poor will be out in the long commute outskirts. Research has shown that this is NOT the best use of an urban area. One that works is where all the people come together across all the race, creed, colors, and various differences that we appear to be building walls around individual privacy that keep that what we don’t like out. This is a problem I don’t have any solutions for in the states. We have every different group screaming for acceptance, yet, if someone doesn’t agree with their views, they are bashed or ostracized in an ever-increasing uncivil and seemingly angry way.
So, what will the future city be? Pocketed segmentation and have versus have not status? Will the social fabric of people decay further into individualism in the united states while the feed trough of power and capitalism corrupts more hearts and souls? Will tensions and anger rise as each group looks at their topping on the pizza that has all and forgets that there is more than themselves in the urban pizza pie? With the rise of robots and machines, I have to ask, “what will people really do when we automate out all the jobs and repetitive work that is deemed too hard for the future worker?
I guess this has me flashback to a trade show I attended called food for thought. It was odd in that the show had an age cutoff and only wanted young people to come and talk about new food solutions and it was sponsored and backed by Syngenta. Many of the participants were from developing countries while a lot of the attendees were from well-heeled developed world backgrounds. I asked, “how many people here have ever been to a third world country?” and no one raised their hands. I asked because the seemingly common sense ideas that were being presented as brilliant are merely things you see every day in the third world as people have to innovate simply to survive.
In the developed world, there is an abundance of choices and things to keep anyone busy and never having to focus on themselves. Just walk down a moderns USA grocery store and count the variety of competing items and the lunacy of how many different variations of chips and processed snacks one can partake of. Now imagine the future of a city in the USA and some developed global markets with the super city and how one will get food to all.
Will it be food? Sure. I am not sure if it will be monetized slurry, processing, or some genetically modified crop. I am pretty sure that the space and costs of urban areas will only allow the wealthy to eat fresh and healthy unprocessed foods. (I am going to test an idea in the next 6 months to see if we can prove that idea incorrect…time will tell)
What I see inside the united states, which is the global glutton, yet, also a place where you can try ideas out with relative ease is that the social fabric of people in cities is eroding with the mass consumption of data and the cell phone. People don’t have their heads up and are looking where they are walking. One trend in the city is getting stuck behind people sauntering with earbuds in, listening to music, texting their friends and oblivious they are in a public space. Another is technology is making people easily disposable…be it a mate, spouse, friend…” they did this…I don’t want them in my life…click!)
For a city to really grow, our first orphanage work was code-named “the kitchen” as the place that really has a lot of wisdom and love dispensed is in the preparation of the food. The actually shared meal was where interesting discussions and chat could happen…it was enhanced that the food that was being cooked was grown on site, picked when ripe, nutritious and delicious – minimal processing. It was the connection with nature to the cooking and then the feeding. I don’t see the first two parts of it in future living. I see more consuming, of which I will ask, “what exactly is this? Genetic, bio-sludge, uber-processed?”
When you bring the robots into the equation, and the noise man will create that is very different than the sound of pure nature – it just doesn’t bode well for the long term mental and physical health of humans. Perhaps that is why in the augmanity realm we have the ideas to try to help people still themselves and change from a life of consuming drugs designed for anxiety and other mental ailments. I won’t get into how depressing that market is in the united states these days. It is almost like pharmaceuticals have become a commoditized weapon to keep people ever really curing themselves.
Sorry I rambled. But some loose threads in my mind got tightened with the ideas we are working with…not today…I design and figure out where to source some metal to fabricate some “things.” Have a great day.