Artificial intelligence (AI) is a vague, slightly tech-y term that is overused by marketing departments trying to show some bona fides. But if you want some real insights on what artificial intelligence is and what it can do, then you should check out these talks that Chris Satchell of Zume and Erik Andrejko of Evolv (the venture arm of Kraft-Heinz) each did onstage at our recent Smart Kitchen Summit.
But before you can begin talking about AI you must understand the importance of data. Not just plenty of it or the right kind, as Satchell points out in his presentation. Before you can get into algorithms you need clean, tagged data that is centralized. He recommends that you don’t spread out your data teams across the company, and instead cluster them together to get the best results.
With your data organized and your models in place, then you can start to analyze and gain insights. For Zume, that means making the food supply chain more efficient. When we talk about last mile delivery, we’re actually talking about the last five or seven mile delivery. Zume is using predictive analytics to know ahead of time what food will be ordered, when and where. From that information they can place mobile kitchens directly in those neighborhoods to make the delivery process more efficient for the cooks, the couriers and the consumer.
Satchell wants to take this type of AI-based prediction up the food stack to improve supply chains and even create predictive farming. This type of just-in-time farming would help farmers understand what types of crops to grow and when in order to help reduce food waste.
As Andrejko pointed out in his talk, agriculture is already changing thanks to analytics and AI. Though Andrejko would like people to think of AI as “Augmented Intelligence,” not “Artificial Intelligence.” On the farm, this means that data and algorithms can be used to optimize how fertilizer is applied, using more on acres that need it and less where it doesn’t. Or with emerging fruit-picking robots that can use computer vision to automatically harvest at peak times for ripeness.
Andrejko also sees augmented intelligence at our kitchen tables, giving us more human connection at dinner time. Say you want to cook a butternut squash chili for dinner. Eventually you’ll be able to say that request to a voice assistant, which will break down the list of ingredients and place the order, which will be brought to your house via a self-driving delivery vehicle, which also uses AI to travel to your door.
These talks, along with the panel discussion with Satchell and Andrejko afterwards, are great deep dives into AI for anyone curious about the trendy term or for any company looking to add that arrow to their quiver. At least have the marketing department in your life check it out.