You have 4 summaries left

The Robot Brains Podcast

Yaniv Altshuler: reducing cow methane emissions with AI

Wed Jul 26 2023
Artificial IntelligenceAgricultureMethane ReductionMicrobiome AnalysisData ChallengesMacro ConditionsEntrepreneurshipEducation


The episode discusses Yanif Al-Chulur and his company META AI, which uses AI to improve cow's digestion and reduce methane emissions. It explores the challenges and potential of microbiome analysis in predicting additive efficacy for methane reduction. The importance of publishing findings and the potential applications of microbiome research are also discussed. The episode highlights the challenges in methane capture and the rapid pace of AI development. It delves into the challenges in data collection for AI models and shares insights from the founder's experiences with Memories, Endor, and MFAI. The impact of macro conditions on companies is explored, along with the personal motivation behind Sailor Academy.


AI in Agriculture

META AI's technology offers a promising solution to reduce methane emissions from cows, one of the largest sources of carbon emissions.

Microbiome Analysis

Microbiome analysis provides valuable insights into additive efficacy for reducing methane emissions from cows, allowing for targeted interventions.

Data Challenges in AI

The amount and quality of data pose significant challenges in applying AI to genetic information and developing effective AI models.

Impact of Macro Conditions

Macro conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can have a profound impact on companies' trajectories and commercial agreements.

Personal Motivation

The founder's personal motivation stems from their passion for salt, Bitcoin, and providing free education through Sailor Academy.


  1. Yanif Al-Chulur and META AI
  2. AI in Designing Dynamic Systems and Microbiome Analysis
  3. Microbiome Analysis for Predicting Additive Efficacy
  4. Microbiome Data and Publishing Findings
  5. Methane Capture and Challenges in AI Development
  6. Challenges in Data Collection for AI Models
  7. Endor and the Impact of Macro Conditions
  8. Sailor Academy and Personal Motivation

Yanif Al-Chulur and META AI

00:02 - 08:08

  • Yanif Al-Chulur is a researcher and developer of artificial intelligence, with a PhD in Computer Science and multiple companies founded
  • Yanif's company, META AI, uses AI to improve cow's digestion and reduce methane emissions
  • Cows burp a lot and release energy in the form of methane, which could have been used for more milk production
  • The wasted energy from cow burps amounts to an annual potential additional yield of $20 billion for global dairy farmers
  • Methane emissions from cows are one of the largest sources of carbon emissions
  • Treating all cows as a country, they would rank as the second most polluting country after China
  • Yanif got into this field because he wanted to focus on a big problem that is often overlooked
  • Improving cow digestion not only increases economic efficiency but also improves milk quality and overall cow well-being
  • META AI's technology applies to both grass-fed and corn-fed cows by providing optimal feed additives
  • Farmers can choose the right additive for their herd to maximize efficacy

AI in Designing Dynamic Systems and Microbiome Analysis

07:46 - 15:38

  • AI is applied in designing and analyzing large dynamic systems
  • Swarm intelligence theory helps predict and design swarms of drones
  • Data-driven approaches are effective in various domains, such as transportation and financial systems
  • Microbiome samples from cows are used to analyze genetic data
  • State-of-the-art techniques focus on known microbes, ignoring valuable information in the long tail
  • A purely data-driven approach is taken to detect patterns and correlations in genetic material
  • The same AI techniques used in other fields are now applied to microbe intelligence

Microbiome Analysis for Predicting Additive Efficacy

15:23 - 23:18

  • The podcast discusses the use of microbiome analysis to predict the efficacy of additives in reducing methane emissions from cows
  • The researchers collected data from 20 farms, where they measured methane emissions from cows using a methane detector
  • The data set contains sequenced microbiome samples and methane emission measurements
  • The researchers normalized the data by using a control group and analyzed the effectiveness of different additives in reducing methane emissions
  • They found that one leading additive had no effect on one-third of the farms, while it reduced emissions by up to 20% on some farms
  • The researchers aim to offer predictions for specific additives as well as mixtures of additives in the future
  • By predicting which farms will benefit from certain additives, regulators can offer subsidies to increase yield and reduce methane emissions
  • The technology is also beneficial for feed manufacturers who want to direct their resources towards farms with high impact potential
  • The homogeneity of the microbiome within a herd allows for accurate predictions based on a representative sample of cows

Microbiome Data and Publishing Findings

22:54 - 30:09

  • There is a strong homogeneity within the herd and heterogeneity between different herds in terms of microbiome
  • The microbiome data from one group of cows can be used to predict methane emissions for the entire herd
  • Publishing the data and findings is important for reputation and further analysis
  • Publishing in a peer-reviewed scientific journal is required to claim higher emission reduction credits
  • A collaboration with dairy farmers allows researchers access to microbiome data for various topics
  • Microbiome research has potential applications beyond methane reduction, including human supplements
  • The company is open for business and offers optimization of additives and monetization of cow burps as new revenue streams

Methane Capture and Challenges in AI Development

29:45 - 38:02

  • Methane produced by cows can be captured and sold, but it is not the most effective use of the methane
  • Most of the methane released by cows comes from burps, not from their rear end
  • Burning methane is preferred over releasing it into the atmosphere because it is less polluting
  • The rapid pace of AI development has been both exciting and surprising
  • Large language models trained on textual data are not applicable to genetic information due to data limitations and differences in DNA sequencing methods
  • The amount and quality of data are major challenges in applying AI to genetic information

Challenges in Data Collection for AI Models

37:33 - 45:12

  • The amount of data and the way it is collected are major challenges in AI
  • Shortening sequences of data limits the ability to understand long context windows
  • Data collection methods may need to change or scale up to improve AI models
  • Using small bits of information and finding correlations among them can be a different approach to AI
  • The guest started multiple companies, including Memories in 2007 and Endor in 2014, before starting MFAI in 2022
  • Memories developed software for game engines that could detect highlights and record them automatically
  • They signed agreements with server operators and got their software installed on more than half of the Counter-Strike servers globally
  • They had to build their own server farm to render video moments due to lack of cloud services at the time
  • Despite commercial success, they had to shut down due to financial difficulties during the 2008 crisis

Endor and the Impact of Macro Conditions

44:48 - 53:21

  • Endor was a spin-off from MIT, commercializing the technology developed during a postdoc
  • The product used intelligence and data to predict riots and optimize marketing campaigns
  • COVID-19 impacted the company's commercial agreements and led to its closure
  • The founder advises focusing on one use case in machine learning
  • Macro conditions can greatly affect a company's trajectory
  • In his free time, the founder spends time with family, reads about AI and crypto

Sailor Academy and Personal Motivation

52:56 - 53:45

  • The speaker started two billion-dollar companies before discovering Bitcoin
  • They then went all in on Bitcoin and started Sailor Academy
  • Sailor Academy aims to provide the best education for free to everyone in the world
  • The speaker finds motivation in salt and enjoys listening to it
  • They also find exercise, like running and crossfit, helpful for increasing productivity
  • The conversation was enjoyable and the speaker thanks the interviewer for their time