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Join host Paul Shapiro as he talks with some of the leading start-up entrepreneurs and titans of industry alike using their businesses to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Jan 1, 2024

Predictions abound for industries that allegedly will be upended by artificial intelligence, or AI. Will Uber drivers and truck drivers be replaced by AI-powered self-driving vehicles? Will writers and journalists be displaced by ChatGPT and its competitors?

While many of our physical tasks have now been replaced by machines, it’s possible that in the future many of our cognitive tasks will also be replaced by machines that can do a better and faster job than we can, and for a lot less money.

This has relevance for many industries, but what about plant-based meat? Nearly all plant-based meat is produced through a technology called extrusion—basically a fancy way of saying a lot of pressure and a lot of heat. Extrusion technology is what transforms plant proteins like soy and pea into foods that are textured more like animal meat, and therefore can be turned into something like a Beyond or Impossible burger.

But harnessing the power of extrusion can be expensive, slow, and finicky. Some refer to it as equal parts science and art, and it requires innumerable trial-and-error tests to get the texture you want. Parameters include temperature, pressure, moisture level, screw speed, feedstock ingredients, and more, meaning there are virtually infinite permutations of formulas you could test—requiring more resources than most small start-ups have.

But what if AI could be used to better predict the results of extrusion tests, and could therefore help guide the experimental process, slashing the number of experiments actually needed? That’s what Noa Weiss is betting, and it’s why the long-time vegan founded GreenProtein AI, a new nonprofit organization spun out of Food Systems Innovations which is designed to assist for-profit companies in the alt-meat space with its AI and machine learning expertise.

In addition to her career as a data science and machine learning engineer, Noa’s driving goal for the past decade has revolved around working to wean humanity off its addiction to animal meat. Affiliated with both the Good Food Institute and Israel’s Modern Agriculture Foundation, the AI expert is now taking her love of all things data and AI and marrying that love with her passion to help animals. 

In this episode, I talk with Noa about how she thinks AI can be harnessed to make better-textured alternative meat, why she started GreenProtein AI, and where she plans to go next in her promising career. We even talk about sentience, from insects to machines!

Discussed in this episode

More about Noa Weiss

Noa Weiss has been working with data for over a decade, both in academia and in the tech industry. Prior to consulting, she worked for companies such as Armis and PayPal, utilizing big data and machine learning for fraud prevention, risk mitigation, and everything cybersecurity. 

Today she works with both startups and more established companies, helping them use their data - and today’s AI & machine learning technology - to drive success.Though she works with companies from all domains, she has a special focus on the field of Alternative Proteins and FoodTech.

Noa also founded and leads the Israeli community of Women in Data Science, utilizes machine learning for whale preservation with the Deep Voice foundation, and offers her expertise with AI and data under the Good Food Institute mentoring program, as well as with the Modern Agriculture Foundation.