Wageningen University: Hearing of the European Parliament on artificial intelligence in agriculture

Monday 14 June two committees of the European parliament will organise an online hearing about the future of agriculture and food security in the digital age. The hearing will be organised by the committee Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (AIDA) and the committee Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI). One of the experts who will speak is Sjaak Wolfert, researcher digital innovation of Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

During the hearing, two panels will go into discussion. In the first panel experts will pitch on how artificial intelligence (AI) can promote the transition to more sustainable agriculture. Wolfert will pitch the “AI-vision of Wageningen Economic Research” as part of this first panel. In this vision the researchers state that when developing AI applications for agriculture and the food sector, not only the technical aspects, but also the socioeconomical aspects are important. Wolfert explains: “An application should not only be technically robust, but also socioeconomically feasible and socially and ethically desirable”.

It is expected that many experts of the panels will go into the many possibilities of AI and agriculture. That is why Wolfert will mainly focus on the ethical and socioeconomical questions. As example, he gives the Dutch child allowance scandal: “Comparable discrimination plays a role in agriculture as well, for example when algorithms implicitly assume a specific type of agriculture and thereby exclude others”. Still, his conclusion is positive: “If we do interdisciplinary research and user centred innovation, we can create good AI applications”. The hearing is accessible for non-members via the streaming service of the European Parliament.

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