Connecting Food & Artificial Intelligence

Connecting Food & Artificial Intelligence

April is artificial intelligence month here at Edusity. Below is the third of a series of weekly articles we are featuring this month from AI expert Brian Lenahan.

Often portrayed as a force of automated evil in science fiction, in real life AI has the potential to help improve human life, our health, our environment and the planet we share. Brian’s self-study course Artificial Intelligence for Business is now available on the Edusity platform.

Artificial Intelligence: Personalized Nutrition

We started this article series talking about how to sort through and make sense of the superabundance of information about what food and food ingredients are good for you and what foods to avoid.  If you could take all the data points we discussed in the second article (diet logs, personal preferences, weight, allergies, blood type, disease, microbiome, DNA, fitness stats, etc.) and have your smartphone make sense of them to form a comprehensive, personalized diet and fitness regime, would you be interested? 

 In this article, we introduce the concept of Healthspan Data Analysis & Recommendation or HDAR. HDAR refers to the collection of personalized health datasets (collating information about your genome, epigenome, food science, nutrition, fitness and physiology), entering them into an algorithm, and through the wonders of artificial intelligence provide recommendations on what to eat, when to eat it, what to avoid (allergens), creating the best possible outcome for you. 

When Rob and I get together on a regular basis, we talk about how the exponential growth in technology is rapidly changing our lives.  We always learn something new about the impact of food choice, exercise, and emerging technologies on our health and lifespan. In this article we speak to those topics.

We all want to live longer and healthier. Today, in laboratories and research centers around the world there is significant anti-aging research taking place. One of the foremost researchers in this field is David Sinclair, PhD author of "Lifespan – Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To".  The datasets from this type of research would take years to gather and analyze if not for advanced technology, massive computing power, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). In fact, discussions in the last few years by people like Futurist Ray Kurzweil about AI give support to reverse-aging!

What is AI?  The power of artificial intelligence is in the way it attempts to emulate the human brain. It is widely held that there are about 100 billion neurons in the human brain and roughly 40,000 synapses interconnecting those neurons – that’s four sextillion connections – more than all the stars in the known universe. Imagine trying to replicate the human brain through technology – that’s artificial intelligence. Artificial neural networks model themselves on biological structure and function and every time new data or information flows through the network, it changes. Because the human brain learns, it creates new connections with each new piece of data. In fact, researchers have been trying to recreate the human brain through neural networks for decades, yet it’s only been in the last decade that five key components have coalesced, namely computer processing speed, storage capacity (cloud), more robust algorithms, extensive investment and more broadly available talent. Artificial Intelligence provides a device or software program the ability to interpret complex data, including images, video, text, speech and sounds, and act on that interpretation to achieve a goal. As AI evolves, there are more and more practical applications for it, especially when it comes to our health and lifestyles.

The fuel for AI is data. Generally speaking, the larger the dataset the better. When it comes to our health the vast dataset can be collected in a variety of ways, many of which we laid out in the second article of this series. The interconnection of everyday devices is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT).  The Internet of Bodies (IoB), an extension of IoT, will collect huge amounts of data from externalinternal and embedded devices. “Instead of devices connected to the internet as in IoT, it’s human bodies that are now connected to a network, with the potential to be remotely controlled and monitored. In short, our bodies will become the new data discovery platform”.1

External wearables like smartwatches monitor certain aspects of our health like sleep patterns, heartbeat, VO2 max, exercise rates and patterns.  Internal devices like pacemakers help to measure and regulate heart rate, and indigestible capsules with microchips will measure the composition and health of our microbiome. Embedded technology like subcutaneous microchips will provide deep 24/7 analysis of our physiology and brain controller interfaces which can emit brain signals to restore function to those with disabilities. 

Bringing it together: To enable HDAR, software like Nutrino’s FoodPrint combines various sources of information to uncover “the invisible connections between people and food to empower better nutritional decisions for better health outcomes”. The application incorporates data science, predictive analytics, natural language processing, optimization theory and predictive analytics to support the selection of food. Nutrino is one of many companies leveraging forms of AI to map out personally optimized diets or supply food characteristic analysis, including ZipongoEat This MuchFiNCLose It! NutritionixValidic and Omada Health

Experts in the field: If you’re looking for insights from some of the experts in the field, direct your search to Dr. Mark HymanDr. Eric TopolDavid Sinclair, and David Perlmutter for some incredible insights into the world of food, wellness, and healthy aging.

The future is now and is changing faster than people think.  The disruptive forces of big data and AI will change our healthcare systems and turn industries upside down.  These changes will soon enable us to take control of our health in ways never before possible as well as helping healthcare practitioners diagnose and treat disease.  We will be able to customize our diets (using HDAR) based on our DNA profiles and optimize our lifestyles to help us live longer, healthier lives. 

Want to learn more about this topic? Watch this space for more information about Rob & Brian’s forthcoming book. 

Brian Lenahan is the author of three books on artificial intelligence strategy including “Artificial intelligence: Foundation for Business Leaders and Consultants”, a recognized keynote speaker, a former executive with a Top 10 North American Bank, a graduate of MIT’s AI strategy program and a consultant to large corporations. His self-study course Artificial Intelligence for Business is now available on the Edusity Platform.

Rob Kowal is President of Kriscor and Associates, and current President of the Canadian Institute of Food Science & Technology. He is an avid cyclist, and advocate for good nutrition and healthy living. Rob speaks about food and consumer trends and sales best practices across Canada.

Copyright 2019 Aquitaine Innovation Advisors and Kriscor & Associates. Used by Edusity with the permission of the authors.

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