I'll humbly present some very young thoughts - I'd appreciate any help in refining and thinking with me. Dr. Evans - if you have any spare brainpower to apply to the economics of a decentralized, distributed, autonomous food production system; that would be an area I've struggled with for years and could use some adult supervision.
Much like the state of the financial industry, the food system is badly broken. One of the things I've been pondering is the reasoning behind blockchain technology and how it might apply to growing and distributing food. At the barest of bones the blockchain is: an unalterable running ledger of ownership
. Is this necessary for food production..? I still don't know yet; my gut says to keep pursuing down this path of thinking while my brain is asking "is this engineering for the sake of engineering?"
What do you
The blockchain technology, as I see it, provides for the construction of a decentralizing incentive structure.
I think you're right and I believe this may be applied best to a slightly less
decentralized food production platform than I've been theorizing over the past couple of years, i.e. the community farms you mentioned. Where one can grow enough food to feed themselves/their family and also grow an excess they would be able to sell. I think of this analogous to the role of POW miners in the crypto ecosystem. (...how could DPOS be applied to food production?!)
To help paint a quick reference picture: The type of farm I envision though is not your average 'garden plot'; I think of farms evolving to clean room environments in the basements of buildings or as dedicated rooms within high rises - all autonomously controlled, robotically operated & [ideally] off-grid. Delivering of goods could occur utilizing a network of UAVs, like quadcoptors, in which the distance from the location of growth to location of consumption is as minimal as viably possible. For instance I have an 8'x8' room in my basement that used to be the 'coal room' back in the 30's. I would be more than happy to point that volumetric footprint towards growing lettuce year round. My wife and I would eat what we would need and sell the rest - but the problem that I believe needs to be solved is the autonomous distribution and assignment of ownership, to others, of the excess our system would grow. Simply put, I don't have the time or desire to package the food, take it to a farmer's market, or make door-to-door drop offs. Which leads to me to my next thought of how growing, purchasing, and distribution may all by related to each other:
Let's say one wants to be a farmer [analogous to a 'miner' for the crypto world]. The "token" she would be producing is lettuce. This opens up a whole new emerging industry for embedded hardware hydroponic systems that would range in size from the consumption needs of a single person, to that of a family, to that of excess in order to profit on the food that isn't consumed; like mining rigs. Perhaps a blockchain could be utilized as a ledger for every plant produced. Each plant has an address, and therefore, documented public ownership (most likely future
ownership) which would be kept track of on the chain. If food were accounted for on a plant by plant basis, I believe food waste would be dramatically decreased (which is currently over 25% of all food grown). The embedded hydroponic hardware system (which I've been calling personal home grow systems) would autonomously assign ownership of the plants (through the blockchain), grow, package, and deliver the food to the consumer. In this case - maybe consumers would be able to place orders for food through some sort of decentralized exchange (a la an Amazon Fresh
-like experience) and this would be recorded in the block chain. Perhaps lettuce can be traded on a decentralized exchange (bitSharesX) through a cryptoasset, i.e. bitLETTUCE.
In the world I am envisioning, there would be a mixture of at-home "single farms"--as you put it--and there could be a far larger, local "community farm" that would gain value from the data-points received from each single farm's monitoring equipment. In this way, the entire ecosystem could quickly learn of any potential destructive force (diseases, pests...etc) that might undermine its stability and, much like the human immune system defends from unknown invaders, use the information gained from one member of the network to make the entire network more robust against that particular attack.
Agreed completely of how you've articulated why this system makes sense from a theoretical perspective. This is a big problem that needs to be solved in the next couple of decades. I believe food production definitely has the potential to fall under the umbrella of "Johnston's Law", in which: Everything that can be decentralized, WILL be decentralized.