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In a not too distant future the age-old question of “what’s for dinner” will be answered by algorithms in the hands of the next generation food system companies. Those algorithms will seize on data from all parts of the food system, including health data from the quantified self and will benefit from big data analysis of previous purchase patterns. This means that these algorithms, through food and with the power of digital influence methods, have the potential to govern our physical beings. After all – we are what we eat. In the hands of benign players, these algorithms can make both us and the planet healthy. In the wrong hands or with the wrong underpinning values, these algorithms can cause severe harm to people and planet.

The question of “What’s for dinner?” will thus be replaced by “Who decides what we eat?”. It is the most profound question that the tech revolution has asked to date. Tech and data will fuel transformation of the food system that will move trillions of euros and change the fate of nations. But will tech and data move the food system in the right direction?

At the core of the development lies two major questions:

  1. What combination of market forces and policy leads to a future with good underpinning values and a good governance of the future food system?
  2. How can we – through network design – direct the development so that the digital aspects of food do not end up in yet another silo, like search or social media, with potentially devastating, monopolistic consequences.

At the Internet Society Special Interest Group for Internet of Food we aim at:

  1. Informing about the development so that necessary preparations can be made
  2. Participate in the development of the future backbone protocols that will facilitate an open, free and transparent flow of information regarding an unlimited number of food objects, with individual IDs