Session: Scaling systems and users

Facilitator: Kyle
How do we scale in a sustainable way? This includes material impacts of tech!

What is appropriate scale? Is there an option besides “take over the world?

4 questions:
What do we mean when we think of scaling ag tech?
Growing always
Appropriate technology - tech that matches the situation or context. Ideas around scale are so critical to agriculture - how big should you be to be successful as a farmer?
Impact on life
Matching a vision so that what we are doing matches it.
Replicability and growth
→ continuity and “good growth”
Who is involved in scaling?
The people who show up / people in the room
Devs/management, not users for decision making
Users determining the value proposition
Users, stakeholders, bystanders, devs
What is good about scale?
Security and resilience
Shared cost/work/efficiencies
Partnerships, discoverability
Competitive advantage
Open source communities increase knowledge base/someone has already done the work
Accumulation of knowledge and ideas
Expanding vision
Potential drawbacks to scaling?
Maybe not fun any more/burnout
Loss of vision and focus
Transaction cost, more complexity
Processing, storage, and support increases non-linearly
How to please evryone/be broad
Mistakes are worse/bigger impact
Community and environment degrades and stuuff don’t work no mo
Fossilized thinking/stagnation

Progress studies - emerging field (Gerald Holden 1962)
Progress is the result of small innovations

Alan Kay worked at Xerox PARC: the best way to predict the future is to invent it
Do we want to invent a blind growth-only process?
We have agency over the growth curve and the big growth curve is made of small ones

Maybe we design for a specific carrying capacity instead of infinite/indefinite growth
Some things we want a lot of - compassion, healthy food

What’s needed is a cultural change

Kate Raworth - Donut economics/degrowth (degrowth: aim for quality, not constant increase)

The most advanced species is indistinguishable from the natural environment - how do we measure success?

With software there are unintended consequences - viz the internet. How do we scale huge goals around finance? How do you do anything when you have 60 organizations all coming together?

What can we do today? What takes a lot of time or a little, or what’s in the middle? How do we maintain space for innovation in larger coordinated efforts?

Benefits prioritized easier to harder - from things we can do now to personal to products for customers to coordinated efforts. Where are things falling short? What do we need to do to move from one to the other until we get to the right scale?
Shared standards change the nature of the organization - we don’t need Facebook scale to deliver products to farmers
What makes locally responsible agriculture? Farmers are developers and user become closer to creators - shared language and standard could create distributed scale OR
Or maybe a farmer wants specialists to take care of things - they don’t want to become developers or even use computers?