Why rural Internet is crucial to the advancement of artificial intelligence

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The world’s population is expected to hit 9 billion by 2050. Feeding everyone will be an issue (it already is). This is why it’s crucial that farmers and the agricultural industry have access to the latest technology and reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet access.

Modern farms with some level of broadband connection already use a wide variety of high tech tools, such as the following:

1) Sensors

These sensors connect farmers to the crops in a more data driven way. Farmers can monitor soil conditions and control fertilizing and watering via smart devices.

2) Autonomous vehicles

We see a lot in the news about self-driving cars, but what about self-driving tractors? These machines (or robots) help control costs and make the farm more efficient. The person that would be manning the tractor can be completing work elsewhere on the farm.

3) Drones

Drones give farmers a bird’s eye view of their crops, which allows them to identify trouble areas quicker and plan for the future. Also, spotting areas where crops are struggling gives farmers a better chance of saving that section of the crop.

Artificial intelligence and agriculture

When it comes to the use of artificial intelligence in agriculture, both investment and advancements are sparse. It’s safe to say that in general we are far from creating a machine with true artificial intelligence, but we’re especially far from it when it comes to the farm.

Artificial intelligence would improve all three of the above mentioned technologies. Imagine if the sensors could learn from past crops and make decisions to produce better crops without instructions from the farmer.

It would be helpful if autonomous tractors could learn the terrain and plan more efficient routes or robotic harvesters could recognize the optimal time to harvest the crop. What if drones could take the data from months of video and plan the location and rotation of future crops for best results?

All of this sounds possible, but there’s one major hurdle that’s preventing the investment and research from being done. There are still many rural areas that lack basic Internet access. Artificial intelligence depends on large amounts of data being transferred, and the lack of phone reception and broadband makes this process impossible.  

Connecting our farmers to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet is the first step to supporting advancements in artificial intelligence in the agricultural industry.