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AI’s Transformative Power: Helping Decrease Food Prices

Inflation increases since 2020 have been taking chunks out of American wallets, especially when it comes to food and grocery prices. This has been especially true for new families, with baby formula and food up 8.8% from a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

But as with many sectors, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to help us drive down food costs is incredible. Sultan Meghji, the former chief innovation officer at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC), writes this week in The Wall Street Journal’s opinion section that “AI Will Mean Cheaper Food.” Meghji explains:

“One of the biggest drivers of food’s price spike was an even larger cost jump for fertilizer…But AI is starting to lower farmers’ production costs and will in turn lower what consumers pay. Farmers have had to spread fertilizer almost indiscriminately across their land with large converted tractors. The result is that farmers waste 40% to 80% of the fertilizer they use, not being able to determine where exactly a plant can reach the nutrients or where on a field the next rain is likely to wash away fertilizer. With AI, that number will drop toward zero. Farmers will soon be able to use AI and satellite data to identify the exact fertilizer needs of their farms with a square-meter level of specificity. Farmers will be able to give crops only what they need and no more. That same sort of data analysis will let farmers save on other costs.” 

In the piece, Meghji goes on to detail additional ways farmers will be able to use AI tools to their benefit—and ultimately, ours as consumers. 

AI technology has the potential to meaningfully improve the human experience in many ways. There are legitimate concerns about bad actors abusing AI, which can be mitigated with targeted, well-defined rules that address specific harms without unnecessarily restricting the positive development of these critical tools, like the ones Meghji notes.

You can read Meghji’s full piece, “AI Will Mean Cheaper Food,” in The Wall Street Journal.