The ultimate promise of artificial intelligence lies in sorting cucumbers

Farming in Japan is different than the United States. The average Japanese farm is just 4.8 acres, and more than 1.5 million small-scale food producers punctuate Japan’s mountainous islands. In contrast, the average US farm size is 434 acres. Japan’s distributed model poses an issue: The price of modern, high-efficiency farm equipment demands a large operation to cover costs. One small farm, however, is turning to homebrew artificial intelligence instead of buying the standard machinery. Makoto Koike, a Japanese farmer who previously worked as an embedded systems designer in the auto industry, found a common farming problem: sorting produce. The nine categories of spiky cucumbers his family farm produced was time-consuming to sort by hand. Koike told Google that it could take months to learn how to properly sort the…


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