Artificial intelligence is a tremendously powerful technology that promises to transform the very nature of work, inevitably leading to the automation of certain white-collar jobs. Like maybe mine, for instance. But AI also promises to make human labor smarter and more efficient, even something as traditional as small-scale farming.
To that end, researchers have developed a smartphone-based program that can automatically detect diseases in the cassava plant—the most widely grown root crop on Earth—with darn near 100 percent accuracy. It’s a glimpse at a future in which farmers in the developing world trade the expertise of a handful of specialists for increasingly omnipresent and powerful technology.
The most impressive bit about the technology is that the neural network that powers it runs entirely on the smartphone, no cloud computing or hulking processors required.