AI Institute for Food Systems Showcases Projects in DC

Three men in dark suits looking at gadgets on a table.
AIFS Director Ilias Tagkopoulos (left) and associate director Steven Brown (right) demonstrate AI technology to Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the National Science Foundation, at a recent event in Washington, D.C. (Charlotte Geary, NSF)

Professor Ilias Tagokopoulos, director of the AI Institute for Food Systems and associate director Steve Brown recently had the opportunity to present the institute’s work to federal officials and congressional staffers at two events in Washington, D.C..

The AIFS was established in 2020 with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as part of an initiative led by the National Science Foundation to establish national AI institutes across the country. Bringing together researchers from UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Cornell University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, the institute aims to address critical challenges to food production by applying artificial intelligence technology to every step in the food supply system.

Tagokopoulos and Brown joined representatives of all 25 national AI institutes in a showcase at the National Science Foundation headquarters Sept. 18. They also presented their work for congressional staffers and elected representatives at the Dirksen Senate Office building Sept. 19.

Among the projects presented by the AIFS were:

  • Using learning algorithms to identify food ingredients, predict health effects and develop diet recommendations based on photos of food
  • Developing inexpensive sensors that collect real-time information about soil conditions in fields or orchards and relay it back via drones
  • Digital simulations and machine learning for precision agriculture with drones 
  • Food Atlas, a knowledgebase that uses AI to collect information on foods, ingredients, chemicals and health effects from millions of published papers.

“AIFS was highly visible at these events and its message was well received,” Tagokopoulos said.

Left, white man in brown suite with white hair and glasses, on right taller white man with brown hair, blue suite and red tie.

Brown also met with Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, at his D.C. office Sept. 21 to introduce the AIFS and its work on leveraging AI in the food system. 

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Feeding a Growing Population