This is a blog by Rudolf de Vetten, Chief Product Officer of Blue Radix.
If you’ve watched the Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’ you’ll recognize the question that lingers with you afterwards: who really decides about my life?
The documentary probes just how the algorithms of Facebook and other social media are designed to hold your attention continuously and cause you to make decisions without quite being aware of it. It happens so subtly that you can hardly resist, and unwittingly your choices are not those you would ever make without such an algorithm.
Algorithms determine our daily lives increasingly: they guide your choice of music, interests, the job vacancies you see and what you order for dinner. It’s all very convenient, but is it desirable? Before you know it, crucial choices are being made for you without you even realizing it.
Blue Radix develops algorithms to support growers. But even more pertinently: developing algorithms is the core of what we do. How do we deal with this? Why is it a good idea to start working with them? Before you’ve quite grasped it, will an algorithm have taken over all your decisions as a grower, or even worse: your job, I hear you think? Nothing could be further from the truth!
Cultivation of a crop is a profession. A profession that has been built up over generations, that entails a huge amount of knowledge. That knowledge is not just packed into data. Cultivation is constantly navigating the complex balancing act between the development of the plant, creating the right climate, keeping a close watch on costs but also keeping an eye on the customer’s wishes. Anyone who reduces cultivation to the analysis of data sets, is missing the core of the craft that is the cultivation of a crop.
And therein lies the crux: algorithms can do certain things very well, and as a grower you become more powerful when you make clever use of them. But at the same time, you also need to recognize its limitations, and an algorithm should help you in making your own choices.
To develop an algorithm that is truly intelligent, but also connects to the practice of the grower’s complex profession, two things are needed: deep technology knowledge and a healthy connection to greenhouse horticulture. At Blue Radix we combine these. Our goal is to make growers more successful and to support them in what they do best: growing a beautiful product with the certainty that all the conditions for the plant are optimal. That means listening carefully to many different growers: from the high-end grower with decades of experience, all the way to the novice grower who may be afraid to make mistakes.
At Blue Radix we’re very aware of the opportunities technology offers, but also the risks. So our starting point has always been to take the grower’s strategy as our point of departure.
This produces a solution where you yourself determine what’s important, where you clearly see the results of each calculation step, and where you can always look back to see how good the results are – without having to perform repetitive actions and running the risk of repeating previous mistakes.
This means that you still have to think about your strategy and make choices. We can help you with that if you like, but it has to be done by a human being. Because: you decide!