Microsoft, IBM and FAO, Artificial Intelligence at the service of the agricultural sector

Microsoft, IBM and FAO, Artificial Intelligence at the service of the agricultural sector
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), IBM and Microsoft, in an event organized with the Pontifical Academy for Life, have relaunched the commitment to develop forms of Artificial Intelligence that are inclusive and promote sustainable ways to achieve food and nutritional security.

The aim of the "AI, Food for All" event was to strengthen the so-called "Rome Call for AI Ethics", approved by Pope Francis and co- signed by FAO, IBM and Microsoft at a conference hosted by the Academy in February. Discussions also focused on concrete ways in which artificial intelligence can help achieve its goal of feeding an estimated global population of nearly 10 billion by 2050, and to do so by safeguarding natural resources and addressing challenges such as climate change. and the impacts of shocks, including Covid-19.

Examples of best practices in the use of AI and digital technology in agriculture and which are openly accessible in the form of digital public goods were also presented. "The implementation of clearly Western technologies in food production and processing significantly affects the food cultures of the populations of the Earth. We have to feed everyone, but not everyone has to eat the same things, "said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. "The protection of biological diversity (human, plant, animal) must be at the center of our attention and must guide the entire process, from the design phases (ethics by design) to the way in which these are proposed and disseminated in the various social and cultural contexts ”he added.

"As society grapples with an alarming public health emergency, the uses of technology in response to Covid-19 have only underscored why the Rome Call for AI Ethics and its underlying principles are so critical to the future of humanity, ”said John E. Kelly, III, executive vice president of IBM. "Only by putting people, their interests and their values ​​at the center of our thinking about the future of technology can we all emerge stronger from global challenges such as the pandemic and food security".

"At Microsoft, we believe that technology can help unlock solutions for some of the world's greatest challenges, ”said Microsoft president Brad Smith. "Technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning tools will be particularly useful as we work to tackle the problems of hunger and food insecurity around the world, especially when we are struggling with climate change. These tools can predict problems and respond with critical resources that help prevent future famines and save lives. "

Artificial intelligence has an important role to play in transforming food systems and helping address food and nutritional insecurity. In agricultural sectors, it can do this in a number of ways, including optimizing or even carrying out certain activities, such as sowing and harvesting, thus increasing productivity, improving working conditions, reducing the amount of time and effort and using natural resources more efficiently, including through better knowledge management and planning.

Specifically, as e-agriculture technology advances rapidly, artificial intelligence in agriculture is emerging in three main areas : agricultural robotics, soil and crop monitoring and predictive analysis. Advances in these areas can, in the context of climate change, population growth and depletion of natural resources, contribute significantly to the conservation of soil and water which are increasingly crucial to achieving food security in a sustainable way. br>
At the base of the Rome Call there are several key principles. First of all transparency, since AI systems must be explainable; inclusion, so that the needs of all human beings are taken into account and they are offered the best possible conditions to express themselves and develop; impartiality, so that such technologies do not create or act according to prejudices, for the benefit of the few.

In relation to these principles, and in the context of the use of AI in agriculture, the partners and co-signatories of the Call recognize the need to protect farmers' rights and the knowledge they possess, particularly those in developing countries. There is also a need to bridge the digital divide: 6 billion people today are without broadband, 4 billion without internet, 2 billion without mobile phones and 400 million people without digital signal and there are also significant gaps in access. to resources among men and women, young and old.

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