Of course, we could talk about strictly high-tech approaches such as industrial (multi-story) production systems, whether artificially lit robotic agriculture “food farms”, emerging vat meat/plant-based meat substitutes, or closed loop aquaponics. But I assume those are familiar to everyone here.
In my view, one of the more promising approaches, lesser-known in the tech communities, is permaculture. While most people who support permaculture take a decidedly low-tech approach (based on what I can only characterize as a misguidedly anti-scientific worldview), it could be effectively married to high-tech innovations with the promise of multiple levels of extraordinary synergy.
As I define it, the essence of permaculture is treating food production as a system of plants, animals and microbial life that are curated by intelligence to support each other. In this manner, certain plants protect other plants by repelling invaders, while all of the plants can actually exchange water and nutrients underground, via a system of mycelial filaments, thereby balancing supplies. (Think of the movie Avatar, but for real! I’ve read that 95% of Earth’s flora evolved to live synergistically with underground mycelium networks. These networks are ignored in modern agriculture, especially monoculture. Yet one can run home experiments and easily see their value.)
Such systems can be largely self-sustaining in terms of fertilizer, water production, and other necessities of plant life. While they have tended to be labor-intensive, in my view the introduction of certain forms of advanced technology could make such systems largely labor-free. Some permaculturists have demonstrated, on a pilot basis, the potential of creating new micro-climates. (This has enabled, for example, growing fruit trees at elevations previously considered impossible.)
Further, permaculture could be used to take essentially useless desert land–itself the result of human mismanagement in most cases–and turn it lush once again. This further opens up the possibility of new villages and even cities and city-states arising on uninhabited territory, with those human communities having a carbon-neutral or even negative footprint, and an advanced, high-tech, eco-friendly lifestyle.
I’ve long thought that such could be the basis for a promising startup company.