August 1, 2015

2015 WG ANNUAL MEETING Futurist to Keynote San Diego Convention

Within two decades there will not be a single human harvesting fruits and vegetables in this country.

That provocative statement is the work of David Evans, formerly the chief futurist at Cisco who is now working on technology to connect all the machines in your home.  Wouldn’t it be great, he said, if when you drove into your garage, that action alerted the heater to turn on, the doors to unlock, the music to play and the oven to preheat.  And the reverse happened when you pulled out of your garage in the morning and closed the garage door…your house would automatically go into shut down mode.  Evans will be the keynote speaker during the Western Growers Annual Meeting that will be held Nov. 8-11 at the Grand Del Mar in San Diego.

Titled “Thought for Food,” his speech will analyze the challenges facing the agricultural industry, and discuss the major advances that are coming down the pike to solve those challenges.  Not surprisingly, Evans believes a technological revolution is lurking around the corner for the fruit and vegetable industry.

High on his list of coming breakthroughs are advancements in robotics that will reduce the need for human pickers at the farm level.  He believes artificial intelligence that will accomplish many farm tasks is on the brink of reality.

Evans has long been right in his observations. More than 20 years ago he identified the World Wide Web as a place that would profoundly change commerce.  He foresaw the Internet as facilitating on-line shopping before almost anyone else was predicting that.  He also was one of the first, if not the first, to coin the phrase the Internet of Things (IOT).  That basically refers to the practice of placing computer chips in everything—your car, your refrigerator, your light switches, your medicine cabinet—so that all of these inputs can interconnect for the betterment of humankind.

His startup company is called Stringify and, as the name suggests, endeavors to string everything together within your house.  He recently said that development is progressing very rapidly with beta testing very close and full production just around the corner.

Turning his attention to the ag space for his Annual Meeting talk, Evans said the Internet of Things, which he has since updated to the Internet of Everything, will have a profound impact on agriculture.  He said this “technological tsunami” will completely change how agriculture produces its products and conducts business.

Evans believes the technological revolution will also bring about vertical factory farming which will replace traditional farming practices.  In fact, he said the geographic advantages that currently exist in California, for example, will no longer be in play.  However, he does not think this means California has lost its edge.  Because of the farming knowledge that already exists in places like California and Arizona, he believes current farmers can lead the revolution toward vertical farming by applying the knowledge they already have to this new technology.  In Evans’ futuristic world, present day specialty crop growers may not have a geographic advantage, but they do have a knowledge advantage.

To register for the Annual Meeting, go to: