Working with nature

Nature is an incredible system. In many areas, nature is considered unbeatable, and natural designs tend as perfection, unsurpassed, built and molded over time and evolving ​​sustainably. However, an ecosystem is modified by the action of its participants, and we all know that humans have become the most important force in the modification of these ecosystems, taking us to increasingly unsustainable situations.

One of the most interesting trends I have noticed at Netexplo this year is projects that work with nature. Abalobi, above, is close to me and my interests: a South African project dedicated to sustainable artisanal fishing, which resonates with my contribution to a project fifteen years ago in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia, Lonxanet.

Fishermen contribute to an information network that allows them to greatly improve their value proposition and their living conditions, proof that no matter how far removed from the new technologies a group might be, if the value proposition is right, they will be interested in it and participate enthusiastically.

Abalobi is no exception at Netexplo this year: nature, or “augmented nature,” plays a key role in many projects, such as Gallinazo Avisa: vultures equipped with cameras and GPS to help discover the existence of illegal landfills in Peru. Or of robotic bees to pollinate crops, which brings to mind a recent episode of Black Mirror), even if a truly functional prototype is some way off. Collars fitted to cows on dairy farms monitor conditions and productivity. Other bovine related projects at Netexplo include meat-free hamburgers, or cow-free milk, or even leather with no cows putting any skin in the game.

Other initiatives include reengineering wine, or modern agriculture see through the prism of data generation and exploitation, or the most efficient ways to grow vegetables by reusing resources in the search for previously unimaginable productivity levels: in one way or another, these are all ways to improve our relationship with nature, to use sustainability criteria or to seek efficiency without maximizing economic performance. While a lot of traditional thinking will be scandalized by the possibility of drinking reengineered wine, or using milk, leather or meat that they will consider “artificial”, even if it isn’t, I think there is no doubt, especially if we ask young people, that we are witnessing the birth of a real trend, and that these are concepts worth exploring.

(En español, aquí)