A.I & Agriculture a more than Human Approach
This is an summarized version of a talk, given by myself, that was delivered at a student and alumni symposium at the California Institute of Integral Studies in November 2017. Here I explore the potential of A.I. within the agricultural industry when developed from a bio-inspired approach.
Journalistic Article Abstract
Biology, Agriculture & Complexity Science
Each day, millions of Americans will buy, cook, and eat two to four meals. But how many eaters meditate on the scientific challenges surrounding the cultivation, production, and distribution of food?
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that 1.3 billion tons of consumable produce goes to waste each year. Another FAO report that states that US$93 billion was lost due to natural disasters in developing countries in crop production and livestock between 2005 and 2014. In 2015, findings presented by the International Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Symposium stated that 20 to 25 percent of all crop yields in the U.S. alone are lost to pests, crop diseases, or post-harvest losses each year.
For agricultural scientists, in particular, these findings present an increasing challenge to traditional methods of scientific research and discovery that are grounded in linear thinking and the basic principles of cause and effect. Agricultural scientists who are well-versed in plant biology, plant physiology, and soil structure aim to understand how a particular crop’s biological structure interacts with the natural elements of its production environment.
With years of experience in differing environments in the field, a crop scientist will learn to decipher the language of science, land, and crops. Despite years of observation, agricultural scientists are increasingly encountering limits to linear ways of viewing the natural world. In encountering these limits, these scientists are turning to the field of complexity science in order to navigate the environmentally complex world of agricultural production.
Complexity science, a relatively new field of science, is the theory and study of seemingly unrelated but interconnected parts that collectively form complex systems. Due to the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the interaction of these systems, complexity science requires multidisciplinary input and a nonlinear scientific approach in order to uncover emergent patterns of behavior from within these particular environments.
Academic Paper Abstract
Hondo Yemiti: African Indigenized Faith Healing as a model for Christian Eco-Theology
Between 1980 and 2000, the African Earthkeepers planted more than fifteen millions trees, and produced more than one hundred thousand seedlings. This earth centred movement supported critical aspects of community development, and created bridges of unity for inter-faith groups in the wake of a newly “liberated state”. These, and much more, were the results of the vision of one missiologist, whose desire was to bridge the gaps between traditional ethnic realities in Africa and the central message of the Church. From the onset of Daneel’s work, instead of striving to convert traditional practices to the theological thinking of either Eastern or Western Christian thought, Daneel determined to embed the message of Jesus Christ into the way that ethnic traditions chose to see the world. In a sense, this was also the objective of many post-modern theological movements, such as Liberation Theology and Theological Eco-Feminism.
Unlike the masses of Latin America however, who adopted a somewhat indigenized Catholicism, or a percentage of the population in North America – who adopted a liberal form of Protestant belief, Southern Africa did something entirely unique. Influenced by a varying number of Christian traditions and missionary thinkers – Southern Africa produced an entirely new way of expressing Christianity, that constituted an original form of indigenized Christian practice that became ecologically focused, called Zionism. Zionism although lending from both Catholic and Pentecostal ideology, more than anything created an informal theology of ethnic traditional practice, what Daneel calls “practiced theology”, in which the image of God and Jesus Christ became represented in the heritage of the ancient land.
The unique character of this body of churches, alongside Daneel’s complimentary approach, created a new and renewed mission of the Church, which was less centered on the salvation of souls, and increasingly centered on the salvation of the environment that the mostly rural congregants lived in. Due to the unorthodox nature and practices of these churches little scholarly attention – aside a select few scholars which includes Daneel – has been given to the importance and study of eco-indigenized theology in Africa and its potential impact on alleviating both the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth, to use the language of Leonardo Boff.
Academic Paper Abstract B
Indigenous lessons in Reverie: a Gateway to accessing an Ecologically Centered Cosmology of Self
Indigenous peoples have used the art of reverie from primeval times to call into themselves the powers of the cosmos. Reverie meaning daydreaming derived from the French rever, to roam the mind’s conscious and unconscious plains. The individual and collective practice of reverie were often entered into through centration on the “medicine” of one’s animal ally or other-kin, illustrated in part through practices detailed in the Native American Medicine Wheel. Different communities of peoples across the globe have used the practice of centration on symbolic and metaphysical characteristics of other-kin, in order to engage the powers of transmutation, transformation, and emergence, to name but a few. This is a powerful practice that simultaneously draws one into a relationship of interrelatedness with the cosmos and all one’s kindred relations on mother earth.
In Palaeolithic times, communities across vast geographies engaged in the art of reverie as a gateway into practices of shamanic trance, merging, and shape-shifting. Communities engaged in these practices – fundamental to communal life – as a means to communicate with the unseen world that they believed to influence the seen forces of nature such as the elements, water and the migration of animals. In our own modern times, such practices have been deemed valueless and threatening to the industrial complex that desire to commodify and redefine nature as “cheap” and value-free. As nature became increasingly commodified there remained no place for the art and practices of reverie, which took on the meaning of another of its root definitions, being to rave, associated with a state of “madness” and a state of delirium. Reverie, however, did not die, but lived on in the practices of those who engage in other “value-free” activities, such as the creation of art. In our times, it is then the artist who in some ways has carried the seamless lore of the shaman through the continued practice of the art of reverie. In a paper on the so-called genius of Edgar Allan Poe, English Professor Dr Mark Canada proposes that it is Poe's practice of the art of reverie that is the gateway to the creation of his literary art, reverie meaning for Canada “relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, fantasy, daydreaming, sensory deprivation, or some similar state”.
Archaeologist of Southern African San rock art David Lewis-Williams argues that the process a person undergoes - through the act of reverie – in order to enter into the states listed by Canada is a neuropsychological function that bridges the modern and Palaeolithic human worlds. Much like the paintings of Salvador Dali, the art produced by Palaeolithic communities is representative of a journey through the collective unconscious and unseen realms. Lewis-Williams throughout his lengthy career illustrates that the cave and rock art found in France, Spain, Southern Africa, North America and Australia is the result of such journeys, which hold a great deal of spiritual significance for the communities creating them that is symbolic of their connection to the natural world. To understand this connection is to understand the mind of those who actively communed with the cosmos and the spirits of the animal world.