Feeding 100 billion people


#1

Shortly before Doctor MLK was shot, he began stirring up his following to demand a fixed income to afford a home and a meal every day. Even cell phones are considered a basic human right and many countries have a welfare program for those who can’t afford them. We’re moving towards a world where giving people what they need not only to survive but to really LIVE on this planet is becoming cheaper, less labor intensive, stronger, faster, more efficient, more connected, and easier to access in all of human history, and it’s only moving forward.

There’s four other systems I want to mention that fall under the same premise and category as Soylent. The premise is to feed the world and feed them decently. McDonald’s feeds the world cheaply and nobody’s calling them our savior, now are they?
The category is resource, energy, and labor reduction.

The first system is called Cybernated Farm Systems and it’s not well advertised right now, but if you’re really interested in nutrition and technology, you might have heard of it at some point. Cybernated Farm Systems wants to make their final product on a mass production scale. They have a kind of human rights initiative that they hope to align with funders, backers, supporters and eventually nations that are willing to make their idea possible.

The final product is as the companies name implies. It’s a systematic farm with cyber-controls. In the sense the inventor uses the word “cyber”, he means borderline artificially intelligent. Every farm would be an enclosed environment stacked with fish ponds and crop yields. The waste-water the fish ponds produce would be filtered directly into the soil of various crops for nutrition and nourishment. The plants would then filter it all out so it could be sent back into the fish ponds as clean water. Only a small amount of solar energy is required to sustain round the clock monitoring systems and energy-efficient gravity pumps.

The inventor says his robotic off-grid farm can be placed in any environment because the water never leaves the facility, is always filtered naturally, and artificial rays are used in areas where sunlight is scarce. In this case, wind energy would be easy to yield to run the farm. On a mass scale, these machines really could be left untouched to just print out food round the clock regardless of your access to oil, arable land, sunlight or clean water. This is truly a -work smarter, not harder- idea and it could have a serious impact on the world. Nutritionally, I think Soylent wins out but this idea could be used locally for people who crave fresh food on demand and don’t have money to pay for it.

The second system is the skyscraper farm concept. It’s been popularized by a few Japanese architects and one group in the U.S. but it’s first appearance in any academic context was by Jacque Fresco, a social engineer in the late 1970’s. He produced architecturally sound buildings with similar shock absorption devices and solar energy building skins you can find all over Dubai, “the greatest city on Earth”, just now.
He made a fair point in one of his interviews with Larry King that if you produce enough food for the world locally, without a work force and without a cost of energy, then within a few generations nobody would ever have to pay for food again. He took 10% of the defense budget and pretended he could use it to build skyscrapers with automated, hydroponic farms on every level and found that he could afford the minerals and energy needs just to produce the off-grid infrastructure for over 90% of the U.S. population - and we consume more food than anyone.

The third system is called Nutriculture and it got some pretty good press a few years ago when it claimed that it’s off-grid farm system could produce enough food for a billion people - in an area the size of New Mexico. That’s some feat! Their technology has recently been re-designed to be cheaper and more energy efficient, because after a few years that’s just what technology does.

The fourth system is a transportation system put in motion by magnetism alone. The trains themselves sit on magnetic beams that shoot them through tubes and incredibly fast speeds. Because the tubes are designed to be completely enclosed like a vacuum, there is no sense of the g’s on the passengers - theoretically you could travel up to 2,000mph without feeling the slightest movement from your enclosure. Solar and wind power could sustain automated management of train schedules and safety precautions (like making everyone is IN the train and everyone who isn’t is standing back).
The trains have no wheels and Chinese engineers even designed the passenger cars to be high grade steel that doesn’t rust or wear. The trains therefore require no cost of energy, no driver, and no maintenance. It would be an unbelievable amount of time and energy to invest in building these trains worldwide fast enough to end starvation, but the efforts are already being made to prove the technology leaves barges and aircraft are costly methods of transportation and resource trading.

All four of these ideas could feed a world of hundreds of billions of human beings. At some point, our energy yield and resource access will be so unlimited, it would only be a matter of space. And on Earth, there rarely seems to be a limit to that. While it’s true it would take quite a bit of effort and cooperation to apply these methods on a global scale, this is an investment that would create an entirely new standard of living on Earth. 3D printing technology is being intermingled with Self-Erecting Structures and artificial intelligence to figure out how to have a “robot kit” that can build entire city systems from scratch. This technology sounds advanced, but you may wake up in a few months and find it being used somewhere on this planet.

I like that these ideas are all taking ground and Soylent is by far the most ingenious thing I’ve found in nutrition and food production since I started fretting about all the problems these industries face. I talked to someone at work who knew about Soylent and I was surprised because I live in a small town in Kansas and somehow this guy was also very well read on the invention. I’ve tried to understand every defense, bio-chemical or cultural, that Rob himself has offered for his invention. His thinking is flawless and I think the Soylent Corporation is going to demonstrate that throughout the year of 2014.

I don’t have any criticisms for Soylent and I wouldn’t ask the posters here to offer any, but does anyone see any flaws in the other 4 systems I mentioned? I like to think these ideas are game-changing but there might be unforeseen flaws that Soylent has had the mercy of facing.


#2

These are some interesting ideas but they’re not terribly practical at the moment I’m afraid, with the exception of the skyscraper farms.

The cybernated farm you describe I think fits the description of an enclosed biosphere which all experimental tests I’ve heard of have failed to maintain homeostasis. The plants inside couldn’t maintain the air quality needed for life with such a small ecosystem, CO2 and N built up and not enough O was released or something to that effect.
The magnetic train is currently being tested I think in Japan but it’s only feasable there really because of the hyperdense population centres in a small geographical area, the same thing couldn’t be done for any reasonable cost in spread out countries like the US or Australia (Aw)

The skyscraper farms are a good concept though and I know there was some success using inexpensive scaffolding to create multi-tiered farmable areas as a proof of concept a few years back. I’d certainly like to see more of them put in use as our farmable land in many countries is very strained and the further away you have to keep growing your food the more transportation and clearing affects the environment.


#3

Waste is the biggest problem right now. At least 40% of food produced in this country (US) goes to waste. There is plenty of food.


#4

Once I realized how large this post was, I decided there was only one adequate response I could give you without reading it.

Meow.

This part is after reading it

I would compare the first system/solution to automation programming. It’s an easy comparison for me to make because it’s my job. You take a (menial) process, account for all possibilities, and then tell a computer how to do it with minimal or no human interaction. Then you begin to optimize. Eventually, the system runs itself and you’ve freed the time of tens or hundreds of individuals while increasing throughput and accuracy.

The first idea = the future of most menial work. Automation + optimization. I think that maintenance for these systems could even be paid for by taxpayer money once the systems are running, then food could be free minus the markup and cost of shipping.

I really hope this becomes the norm. All it takes is one person to show the world that it’s possible. Soylent should inspire many solutions to the problem of hunger and agriculture.

Most work in general would better be replaced by automated systems. The only thing humans should be doing workwise, if our current lives actually matched our current technology, in maintaining, programming and designing automated systems.


#5

I realize the post was a bit long but these were a compilation of ideas and concepts that I was trying to wrap my head around, especially in terms of real world applications. I see cities becoming smarter and more supply/demand oriented in terms of what they produce or stockpile. Overdoing it seems to cause waste and underestimating causes shortages and in extreme cases, riots. I think the access people have to certain goods or services has a massive influence on crime rates and I think the cities of the future will anticipate things such as this. I only hope I’m lucky enough to have ideas of my own used.


#6

What is with All The randomly capitalized Words? I Quit Reading because of That.
(Amusingly, I did not capitalize everything in that last sentence. For some reason, when posted, the software did it.)


#7

Ikr? It’s painful to read and I can’t understand why people do it? It’s clearly a conscious act to hit the shift key and I don’t know why… D:


#8

Your fourth system - ‘transportation system propelled my magnetism alone’: I’m afraid passengers and cargo would still be subject to g-forces when accelarating (i.e. speeding up, slowing down, and turning). There is just no way round this. The best you can do really with high-speed transport is to eliminate friction. You should google and read about the Hyperloop, a novel recently-proposed alternative to high-speed ‘rail’ solutions.

Producing all food locally is a really interesting idea, but ultimately it still wouldn’t be truly free for an awfully long time, e.g. your farms (whatever form they take) would still need some maintenance, mineral input, etc. I think in the short term we will continue to benefit from economies of scale (just like while you can make some things at home with a 3D printer, the technology is a long way off being able to make anything at home for just raw materials costs.)

Farming on skyscrapers is an excellent idea in many ways but again the tech isn’t really ready. I look forward to that changing.


#9

A skyscraper farm isn’t a farm on a skyscraper, it’s a multi-tiered farmable area, like having a farm on every floor of a skyscraper with no walls to block light. It means that instead of a 1km2 farm you could have the same farmland in a 10 story building where each level is 100m2

I don’t know if a round tower would be the best design, this was the first pic I found


#10

Actually a round design would have some merits. If you had it rotating slowly at 1 rotation per hour (slow enough to not be dangerous to workers) you could ensure that sunlight hits the whole structure all day. Otherwise half the building would be in the shade in the morning, the other half in the afternoon. Not sure if powering the rotation and irrigation from solar panels would work, but if it could it would be self sustaining.