Here at Hackerfarm, we host quite a few residencies with people that come through and collaborate with us on agriculture and technology. Two of our regular visitors here are Andrew “bunnie” Huang and his partner Pauline.
bunnie is well known in technology circles and is constantly forcing the boundaries of current technology to push for social change. For example, one of the projects he is working on is with Edward Snowden to modify iPhones for security and privacy to ensure the safety of journalists and dissidents.
His background is in electrical engineering with a PhD from MIT. He first became well known as a hacker and reverse engineer for game consoles, especially with the XBox. He’s been an expert witness in numerous federal cases to promote online freedom and played a pivotal role in reducing the scope of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
His partner Pauline also is a regular at hackerfarm and is a specialist in bioinformatics. She’s equally amazing, being an expert in DNA sequencing and statistical data analysis for genomes. During a BBQ, we started discussing what we were going to plant this year which invariably led to Pauline suggesting a battery of experiments. They would include randomized experimental trials on the farmplots and include statistical techniques like ANOVA to see which organic farming factors had the largest effect on plant growth for a specific heirloom seed. She offered to design the experiments and perform the statistical analysis.
But actually when they come down, it’s not about technology at all. Our discussions usually center on farming and they both mainly come out here to work on land and do physical labor. For many techies, being on a computer all the time means that you’re constantly in your head. Visiting the countryside, and a place like Hackerfarm, gives people a chance to do physical labor, work out in the sun, and understand more about the agricultural circle of life that (if we eat any type of food) we all live in.
I really like the fact that Hackerfarm, while focused on farming, has such a strong connection to the technology community. We are also meeting with many people in the local sustainable and organic agriculture community around Japan and also abroad in places like Australia and the United States. As we continue, we’re hoping to bridge agriculture and technology through different collaborations and hopefully play a part in new and accessible agriculture techniques for indie, organic farmers that span both worlds.