Standing before a crowd of farmers at the 2018 Farm Journal AgTech Expo, keynote speaker Josh Henretig voiced what he believed a lot of farmers were thinking.
“Why is someone from Microsoft, the company that brought you Windows Office and Xbox standing in front of you today?” asked Henretig, senior director, artificial intelligence (AI) for earth for Microsoft.
One of the answers, he said, is that Microsoft views the planet as the ultimate operating system and that information technology, in particular artificial intelligence, can help the company monitor, model and respond to the need to help feed the planet and address global health issues. He notes that Microsoft leaders see the company’s role in the process as “unchanged” from its core business model and can “provide the connective tissue to enable the technology ecosystem to tackle these challenges.”
The desire to provide that connective tissue is one of the reasons Microsoft established the AI for Earth Program, which was funded with $50 million and a 5-year commitment from Microsoft President Brad Smith in December 2017.
Three additional goals for the program are to 1) enable the company to anticipate and respond to climate-related issues, 2) support energy, carbon, water and waste projects that reduce the environmental impact of Microsoft’s operations, 3) and help establish Microsoft as a thought leader and innovator on key environmental issues.
In the process of talking about Microsoft’s goals, Henretig shared his perspective on how they will support farming today and in the future. Listen here for more details.