A Great Simian or just a Monkey

Month: March 2016

impossible foods burger (photo from Impossible Foods)

We need to change what we eat!

Lets change the way we eat or we will destroy the planet. We need to act now and food tech could be a large part of the solution for a better planet. Food innovation has already found ways to replace meat and eggs with plants and also insects.

Animal agriculture and livestock is the biggest environmental problem we have!

Not all of us are aware on how bad the situation is for our planet, and even if you are aware, you might not know that the biggest problem is that we eat too much meat and eggs. This is a bigger problem then all the transportation and CO2 emissions that everyone is talking about. We need to decrease the amount of food from animal significantly, that is a fact and all researchers and studies agree. The numbers wary in studies and research, but between 10%-35% of total global emissions (GHG) is what most studies say can be traced to meat agriculture, of those 80% is from livestock. It is not CO2 that is the gas in this sector, it is CH4 (methane) and N2O (nitrous oxide). .

This is not meant as a doomsday post, rather the opposite. Naturally there are companies and entrepreneurs that have realised this and started to find solutions to this problem.

We need to eat differently

Few of us want to give up eating hamburgers, a nice steak, baking bread etc. Since I have a hard time seeing all of us becoming vegans, we need to find other ways, and we need to act now! 

What we need to do is to find replacement for meat and eggs. Not only replace the taste, but also the ingredients, since they are important for our well being. Mainly it is about replacing protein. 92% of the plants on our planet has not yet been analysed, we are now starting to find out that we actually can do some really cool things with plants (see below), but also many insects have significantly less impact on the environment, so crickets are starting to be a trendy bug to eat.

80% of the worlds population already eat insects, but it does not happen that frequently in the western world, maybe we should change that. One of the worlds best restaurants actually have crickets on their menu. The Copenhagen, well awarded, restaurant Noma, serves pancakes with fermented crickets.

When we visited our Thai friends near the Laos border, the family had their own crickets farm so obviously we had to taste. I was about to post a photo of me eating, but it is not in favour of the post to give you a hint. Below are two pictures from that trip, the first one is how it was served (just fried in a pan with some spices and herbs) and the second one is from the cricket farm.

Food tech

How to replace eggs?

Hampton Creek is a San Francisco based company that create products like cookie dough and mayonnaise to be able to replace eggs, more products will come over time.  their products are sold on Whole Foods and others. Hampton Creek have made it possible to get bread to grow while in the oven and make omeletts tasty as well as great mouth feel. Pretty amazing. The below TEDx talk by the Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick, is not a product presentation but rather about how bad the chicken industry is, well worth a watch.

How to replace meat?

Several companies have produced meat replacement products. Some do it based on plants, which naturally is the best, others do it by using real meat cells.

Memphis Meats does it with meat cells, but I am more in favour of making it from plants. That is what Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods does. In the below Beyond Meat video they explain how they do it.

https://youtu.be/RSDiCoEag9s

Naturally we want to continue to have our burgers etc and the top picture is how a burger from Impossible Foods looks like (photo credit to Impossible Foods).

Protein?

Above examples on how to replace meat and eggs are solved by innovation and research of plants (except Memphis Meat), but we also have other areas that provide a much lower environmental footprint even given that they are living things, that is insects and especially crickets. This is nothing new, we have been eating insects since the very beginning of time I assume, but lately we have been to posh for it in the western world. Well, now is a good time to change that. One way to apply insects is to create a protein flour from crickets. This what Bitty Foods does. the CEO Megan Miller also held a TEDx talk, this one in Manhattan, where she describes why and what they do.

A piece of honesty

I consider myself a fairly average individual with a decent intellect and I am also fairly involved and interested in trying to contribute to protecting our planet and keeping it safe for the generations to come. With that said, I admit that I, up until recently, had no clue to what extent the animal agriculture and livestock impacted our planet. Since then I have gained an interest and trying to decide what I, as an individual, can do. This both how I eat as an individual / family but also how I might be able to contribute in a bigger way.

If it was new to me, it is most certainly new to many others as well.

cognitive transparency

Transparency is the future

Transparency will be the key to success in the era of artificial intelligence and cognitive. With all new technology also comes new challenges. In the artificial intelligence and cognitive area of technology one main challenge is how to manage privacy and integrity.

Currently artificial intelligence and cognitive products are the new hot and trendy topic and also it seems to be the new hot area for new startups.

Disclaimer: The company I have co-founded, Monies, is one of those. Our goal is to unify your financial life and bring meaning and consciousness to your financial life. By that we are naturally in the needles eye of this post and transparency will be one of a few keys to our success.

Since these systems and technologies are a lot about emotions and to learn about how we as humans work and to learn, reason and have a conversation based on the input you provide, it is essential that we trust the technology and that we know 100% that the info is secure, not shared and private only to me. Already at this stage there are a lot of risk and many will fail.

In my opinion we will also need to be really assured that my data is not mixed with other persons or organizations data. This is important since most of the AI / cognitive platforms are….platforms. This means that all data goes into “one” place and not on your own dedicated instance or server. Most platforms, Facebook, Google, Amazon or IBM are physically based in huge data centers and all data is physically stored in the same environment as other individuals or organizations data. For these organizations to be able to build the necessary trust that our data is secure and private to us or our organization, transparency will be of outmost importance to establish this trust.

If we push the topic it is the same as when you share information with another human, you need to feel that you trust that individual prior to sharing sensitive information. Since these technologies replicates a lot of the behavior we have as humans. Would you share your private info if you knew that the other person immediately shared that info with the rest of his company or even other companies that they are also doing business with, would not think so.

Even though machines replicate a lot of our behavior today, some things are hard to establish, like trust. Enter the revenge of transparency. Transparency have long be pushed down in the value-chain in favor of capitalizing on our private data, companies like Facebook, Google and others that have as a business-model to re-sell your data to companies that want to reach you with their message. Their business model is to sell your data, you are the product.

This will not compute in the era of AI and cognitive. We will, in my opinion, be much more restricted in what we share about ourselves if we do not feel safe and secure.

Ai and cognitive as technologies are already here to stay so this is not a post against these technologies, the opposite, I believe strongly in them, even so much that I have started a company in the segment.

We and everyone else in the segment need to be fully transparent about the following:

  1. How we store the data
  2. How we keep it safe
  3. That personal information is not shared and truly personal
  4. Provide info on the reasoning on the answers provided
  5. Provide evidence that backs the answers that are provided

Only then can a artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies really become as successful as they are expected to become.

I will end this post with a quote rom Rob High, IBM Fellow and CTO of IBM Watson, in a Mashable article on the topic recently.

They’re subject to the human condition — that is, all of the forms of expression that we leverage to communicate our thoughts, ideas and knowledge, and all of the experiences that we’re exposed to that shapes those thoughts — cognitive systems don’t behave like other deterministic (mathematically modeled) computing systems. They are subject to the same ambiguities, nuances, subtleties and lack of universal truth that we as humans are subject to. They, like other human experts, are only really held up as an expert when we develop trust in them. Cognitive systems, like other human experts, have to establish that trust by being transparent about why they believe what they believe — answer what they answer. And in doing so, they will reveal whether they are acting nefariously or not.

Photo: The top photo is taken from a train entering Stockholm a rainy winter day in December. I thought the wet window could symbolize some transparency.

Team collaboration will always fascinate me. Googles Project Aristotle is a research initiative with the goal to build perfect teams. Interesting result was that they found no patterns in how to achieve the perfect team, but did find lots of great insights.
What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

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