Hackernoon logoHow AI Is Catapulting Cannabis into the Future by@johnkaweske

How AI Is Catapulting Cannabis into the Future

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@johnkaweskeJohn Kaweske

John Kaweske is Founder & CEO of North Star Holdings, Inc. and Tweedleaf.

We like to think we know a thing or two about artificial intelligence. We've seen the ominous technological future depicted in television shows and films of robots slowly amalgamating into society. But this imagery is all wrong. AI isn't taking over the world in the form of lifelike robots. Instead, automation has been in our lives for quite some time now, and many of us are likely not even aware of it.

Driverless cars. Voice-activated home assistants. Smartphones. These are all made possible because of artificial intelligence. It's not only changed our lives in unimaginable ways, but it’s also allowed us to collect, analyze, and interpret data that can help us better understand the world around us. And for business owners, that's critical not only for our organizational efficacy and profitability, but it allows us to see our customers through an entirely new lens.

It's no surprise that many industries are already taking advantage of artificial intelligence in their practices — and now, so is the cannabis industry. The legal cannabis market is predicted to reach over $66 billion by 2025. To prepare for this growth, leaders in the cannabis sector must exploit AI’s transformative powers or risk falling behind the competition. 

So, what exactly are some of the transformative powers artificial intelligence holds in the cannabis industry? Let's find out.

Enhanced cultivation capabilities

Have you ever enjoyed the benefits of smart home technology? If you have, you know that smart lights and smart thermostats allow you to control your home’s lighting and temperature from anywhere in the world. Growers can now enjoy these same benefits. By using artificial intelligence, we are better able to manage our crops, which can generate higher yields at lower prices. This is what we do at Tweedleaf.

We use AI to adjust the pH level and moisture levels of our soil. We also use AI to help monitor and control lighting exposure to ensure our plants receive the appropriate level of photosynthesis. We even use it for pest control. By giving growers real-time updates, AI eliminates the 'guessing game' of cultivation. Is the growth rate slower than usual? Are nutrient levels low? Is there a pest infestation? Artificial intelligence alerts growers to any issues, so they know exactly what to fix and how to fix it.

All of this is pretty miraculous when you think about it. AI allows growers to create the perfect environment for plants rather than leaving it up to chance. Growers shouldn't have to hope for the best; they can make this 'best' their reality.

But one of the biggest advantages of artificial intelligence is that it makes it possible for growers to create and breed new, customized strains. As the legal marijuana market continues to expand, access to a variety of strains ensures that all consumers can benefit from the remarkable and healing powers of cannabis. And once growers perfect their new strains, they can then use AI to lock in the correct watering, lighting, and temperature schedules that will aid in the cultivation and production of a diverse range of plants.

Recommendation apps

For many of us, our smartphones were our earliest introductions to artificial intelligence. We've become so accustomed to their convenience that we can't imagine our lives without them. This is exactly why they were created — to make our lives better.

Think about the last time you shopped online. As you were shopping, the store probably sent you some 'recommended' items to view. Were they scarily accurate? This wasn't by mistake. By using AI, brands can analyze your preferences and interests and pull items from their store they also think you'd like. While this may seem a bit eerie at first, we've eventually come to love these recommendations. Instead of spending hours browsing a site, the brands are doing the heavy lifting for us and pulling the products we'll have the most interest in.

The cannabis industry can take advantage of these same benefits. Certain apps like Uppy can help medical marijuana users traverse the world of legal cannabis. What experience do you hope to get from a cannabis product? Do you use it to alleviate a physical injury? Do you need it to help you sleep better at night? Are you a creative person and want to gain some inspiration? Recommendation apps can pull information about you and use it to offer insight into new strains you might like to try.

This sort of capability is so invaluable because it enriches our experience and can transform our lives. 

Better customer experience/service

While artificial intelligence has many benefits for companies, its central mission is improving the customer experience. 

If you've ever browsed a marijuana company's website and interacted with a chatbot, there's a good chance you spoke with a digital budtender that was powered by AI. And chances are you probably didn't even realize you weren't talking to a real person.

This is how powerful artificial intelligence has become. And now, over half of people would rather speak with a chatbot than a human because it saves time, and these chatbots can often be more knowledgeable. 

Consumers — especially new cardholders — often have a lot of questions about different products at the onset yet are too intimidated and embarrassed to walk into a dispensary and approach an employee for answers. Digital budtenders can help walk people through these questions online while also providing them with insight into the cannabis products that will best fit their needs. As customers feel more comfortable, they will begin interacting with your company more and more, which will result in a higher number of sales. 

Additionally, brands can also take advantage of tools like QR codes to have this same impact in-store. By placing a QR code on your packaging, a dispensary can equip customers with all of the information they should know about a product: potency, expected effects, user reviews, lab testing, etc. And because they don't have to approach a person with all their questions, this could also lead to more sales.

Artificial intelligence isn't just a revolutionary technology; it’s the future of business. Companies that implement this transformative technology do so not only to the benefit of their organizations but also to their customers. 

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