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Dr. Dickson Despommier was born in New Orleans in 1940, and grew up in California before moving to the New York area, where he now lives and works. He has a PhD in microbiology from the University of Notre Dame. For 27 years, he has conducted laboratory-based biomedical research at Columbia University with NIH-sponsored support. He is now an emeritus professor at Columbia University and adjunct professor at Fordham University. At present, Dr. Despommier is engaged in a project with the mission to produce significant amounts of food crops in tall buildings situated in densely populated urban centers. This initiative has grown in acceptance over the last few years to the point of stimulating planners and developers around the world to incorporate them into their vision for the future city. To date, there are vertical farms up and running in Japan, Korea, Singapore, Seattle, and Chicago, with many more in the planning stage. It is his hope that vertical farming will become commonplace throughout the built environment on a global scale.
Ray Kurzweil’s “law of accelerating returns” is a very viable economic theory that can be used to address many of the issues that economists are facing in our times, but unfortunately most university departments of economics pay very little attention to it, whereas the old economic theories are not able to answer issues that global economy has been facing since the inception of computer revolution of the last thirty years.
In fact, when the global economy is struggling with issues such as chronic unemployment and the traditional economists are consulted about it, their answers are repeating the same solutions that have failed over and over again, whereas Kurzweil’s theory opens a new way of thinking to fix the economy.
It may be a good idea to address specific issues from the angle of the law of accelerated returns and ask economists to respond and start a dialogue on this new futurist approach of Kurzweil to seek solutions for the problems facing humanity in our times. Challenges of food production in the global economy, at the time when some countries in Africa are facing famine year after year, show the need for a new understanding to help us to come up with working solutions.
How can we feed the 2.5 billion more people – an extra China and India – likely to be alive in 2050? The UN says we will have to nearly double our food production and governments say we should adopt new technologies and avoid waste, but however you cut it, there are already one billion chronically hungry people, there's little more virgin land to open up, climate change will only make farming harder to grow food in most places, the oceans are overfished, and much of the world faces growing water shortages.
Fifty years ago, when the world's population was around half what it is now, the answer to looming famines was "the green revolution" – a massive increase in the use of hybrid seeds and chemical fertilisers. It worked, but at a great ecological price. We grow nearly twice as much food as we did just a generation ago, but we use three times as much water from rivers and underground supplies.
Food, farm and water technologists will have to find new ways to grow more crops in places that until now were hard or impossible to farm. It may need a total rethink over how we use land and water. So enter a new generation of radical farmers, novel foods and bright ideas.
With everything rolling towards the abyss, our only hope for a bright future seems to be the Singularity, a technological transformation of what it means to be human.
But in a talk for TEDx Brussels, science fiction and horror writer John Shirley argues that there are really two Singularities — and yes, everything will be terrible in the short term. So why is he optimistic about the future of the human race? Read on.
How will technology change farming in the future? The only certainty is that technology will continue to change how we farm. John Deere offers one vision on how farmers might control their operations in the future.
In the Star Wars movies, moisture farmers on dry planets like Tattoine use droids to help with the repetitive, back-breaking labor, but that's in a galaxy far, far away. There's no doubt that robots are cool, but are robots on farms far off in our future?
Actually, the future is already here, with highly advanced milking machines on some dairy farms and a fully automated robot planting tractor set to hit the market this fall.
BY THE year 2050, Earth will be home to another 2 or 3 billion more people. The most vexing question is: How will we feed them all? Not only will there be more people, but everyone will have more money to spend on food. Where, on this ever more crowded planet, will we grow all of it?
By 2050, the world’s farmers will need to supply almost twice as much food as they do today, according to an analysis by the World Wildlife Fund. Put another way, we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as have in the last 8,000.
Dutch agricultural company PlantLab wants to change almost everything you know about growing plants. Instead of outdoors, they want farms to be in skyscrapers, warehouses, or underground using hydroponics or other forms of controlled environments. Instead of sunlight they use red and blue LEDs. Water? They need just 10% of the traditional requirements.