The UAT Forum "Speaker Series", Episode 2: Brandon Mensing, Who Controls Our Food? A Discussion About Open Source Agriculture


Every day we use products that depend on open source technology (often without realizing it). But what about the food we eat? What’s open source got to do with it? A battle is raging at the heart of our food supply between open source and proprietary technology. Progress depends on a delicate balance of both. And this balance effects who controls our food. In this month’s forum we’ll discuss what open source is, how it applies to agriculture, who the major players are, what the technological and business battle lines are, where the opportunities lie, and what the future might hold.

Our guest for the event is Brandon Mensing, Senior Product Manager at Elastic and an expert in open source. Brandon is the Sr. Product Manager for Beats at Elastic. His background ranges from data analytics and search technologies to robotics and bioinformatics. Previously Brandon has worked at Sumo Logic and Basis Technology. Prior to his work in tech, he studied computer science, microbiology and bioinformatics at Boston University. Originally a mid-westerner, he now lives in San Francisco.

In this second episode of The UAT Forum “Speaker Series”, we begin the conversation about open source agriculture. What is it? Why is it important? How can companies approach it?

Moderated by Anthony Krumeich
Special thanks to ECO-SYSTM for hosting The UAT Forum!

Show Notes

[3:30] Brandon explains open source to Anthony like he’s five (years old)
[5:00] Brandon discusses benefits of open source
[11:30] Beer clauses in an open source license?
[12:00] Why do people care to contribute to an open source project?
[19:00] Open source allows outside contribution, faster adoption, continued development even if the creator stops working on the project, use cases that may have not been foreseen with the original technology.
[21:00] John Deere tractors are locked-in to maintenance and repair with only licensed John Deere
[26:00] What is open source on a phone (hardware and software)?
[33:00] Why should you care about open source?
[39:50] How much should you open and how does it matter?
[47:00] Can you change your product from open-source to closed-source?
[50:00] What in agriculture should be open sourced?
[54:00] What are the considerations about open sourcing in agriculture (e.g., government subsidies)?
[59:00] Questions from the audience

Questions from the audience

[59:00] Where has open source gone poorly?
[1:03:00] Relationships between hardware and software in open source?
[1:16:00] How does a company transition between different open source licenses?
[1:18:00] What open source project would you build if money were no object?
[1:25:00] Favorite companies in urban agtech?
[1:31:00] How do we make open source easy?


Creative Commons
Farm Hacks
Open Source Ecology
MIT OpenAg
Apache Foundation
Norman Borlaug
Free Software Foundation
Richard Stallman
SBIR Grants
Public Domain NASA Technologies

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