New Food Economy: Stop & Shop now has big, goofy-looking robots patrolling its aisles. What, exactly, is the goal?

I met Marty in the produce section of a Stop & Shop in Bristol, Rhode Island. I was looking for vegetables to grill over hot coals, while Marty roamed the aisles, big, round eyes staring vacantly ahead, searching for spills and other hazards—with electric sensors strategically placed on its tall, rectangular form. Marty, you see, is a supermarket robot. Read more…

Conversationalist: Don’t Thank Google

Earlier this week, Google opened their temporary “Grow with Google New York City Learning Center” on the first floor of the company’s Chelsea offices. The “pop-up” space embodies techno-optimism: well-lit classrooms with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, decorated in neutrals with occasional pops of primary colors, and well-stocked with Google Chromebooks. For five months, the technology company will provide free and open-to-the-public classes on topics like “Manage Projects More Effectively with Online Tools” and “Make Your Website Work For You.”

The vast majority of classes are based on Google products: Learn to manage projects with Google Sheets; get your business online with Google My Business; discover new job opportunities with Google Search. In other words, Google is further entrenching their business monopoly under the pretence of helping entrepreneurs and job seekers. The company is cynically deploying the American dream of hard work and the self-made success story for its own benefit, expecting New Yorkers to thank them for the opportunity to help make Google even richer and more powerful. Read more…

New Food Economy: Soon we’ll use smartphones to trace our food on the blockchain. But there’s a catch: We’ll be traced, too.

Foodies interested in the provenance of their groceries may have to give up something in return: their privacy.

The “internet of everything” (IoE) is coming to a grocery store near you. With a tap of your phone, you’ll be able to find out where your heritage pork was raised and your bluefin tuna caught—in theory. Read more…

New Food Economy: Carbon farming isn’t worth it for farmers. Two blockchain companies want to change that

When the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed at the end of 2017, analysts crunched the numbers and concluded that the cryptocurrency was set to consume the entire global energy supply by the end of 2020. “Mining” Bitcoin involves solving increasingly complex mathematical equations that secure the network in exchange for newly-minted cryptocurrency—which incidentally requires lots of energy. Huge server farms have popped up around the world for the express purpose of generating the virtual cash, from China to upstate New York, where one town put a moratorium on new commercial cryptocurrency mining operations to protect “the City’s natural, historic, cultural and electrical resources.”

But in spite of Bitcoin’s eco-unfriendly reputation, some organizations propose using blockchain, the technology that makes the cryptocurrency possible, to power a regenerative agricultural revolution. The ultimate goal is to reverse the flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere until atmospheric levels fall to a degree that scientists agree will stabilize the climate. Read more…