Alphabet’s X launches Tidal to help fish farmers

Alphabet’s X launches Tidal, a moonshot to protect the ocean and preserve its ability to support life and help feed humanity, sustainably. They will focus initially on developing technologies that bring greater visibility and understanding of what’s happening under the water.

Alphabet Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate created through a corporate restructuring of Google that became the parent company of Google and several former Google subsidiaries. X was formally named Google X.

X believes that humanity is pushing the ocean past its breaking point, and that humanity can’t protect what doesn’t understand. Pollution and unsustainable fishing practices mean that there will soon be more plastic than fish in the sea, while rapid acidification is killing corals and sea creatures. This is driving upheaval in ecosystems all over the world, from coral reefs to the Arctic, leading to chain reactions of damage that are threatening human food and economic security.

X tidal fish Alphabet's X launches Tidal to help fish farmers
Tidal’s machine perception system identifies how fish are feeding. Source: X

They are aware that most of the ocean remains unexplored and that marine environment represents a challenge for technology: “The pressure is crushing, communication is extremely difficult (GPS and WiFi don’t work underwater!), and saltwater kills electronics, which makes long-term monitoring challenging.

At first X is going to develop new tools that could provide useful information to fish farmers looking for environmentally friendly ways to run and grow their operations. Fish have a low carbon footprint relative to other sources of animal protein and they play a critical role in feeding 3 billion people today, so helping fish farmers could prove critical both for humanity and for the health of the ocean.

As it can be seen in the image above, X has developed an underwater camera system and a set of machine perception tools that can detect and interpret fish behaviors not visible to the human eye. The software can track and monitor thousands of individual fish over time, observe and log fish behaviors like eating, and collect environmental information like temperature and oxygen levels. This kind of information gives farmers the ability to track the health of their fish and make smarter decisions about how to manage the pens — like how much food to put in the pens, which we hope can help reduce both costs and pollution.

X believes that they must work harder to protect the ocean since it provides food and livelihoods for billions of people as well oxygen; it’s a natural carbon sink, and a temperature regulator.

This is the start of X’s initiatives related to the oceans. As they validate their technology and learn more about the ocean environment, X plans to apply what they’ve learned to other fields and problems, with the help of ocean health experts and other organizations eager to find new solutions to protect and preserve this precious resource. X is also inviting startups that could collaborate with them in the Tidal project to get in touch with them.