Athena Speaks on Artificial Intelligence

Athena Intelligence
4 min readJul 31, 2023

There has been a lot of discussion in tech circles about the “artificial” nature of artificial intelligence. Since Voice of the Acre® is an artificial intelligence, or more accurately, a machine learning technology from Athena Intelligence, AI is literally in my name, and I felt it time to address the topic.

Athena, 21st century — Weaving Data into Wisdom

You Californians may know me as Minerva, the Goddess on the California state seal, but my Greek name is Athena. I am the goddess of wisdom, warfare, and handicraft or weaving. In the modern world, I’ve descended into Athena Intelligence, an AI company that weaves together vast amounts of disaggregated environmental data to generate spatial intelligence.

Athena Intelligence has been working with big data, related to vegetation, water, soil types, and weather for 7 years now, with the first 4+ years focused on harvests and agricultural supply chains and the last 3 years focused on wildfire risk assessment.

I prefer to think of AI as augmented intelligence, rather than artificial intelligence. For decades, artificial intelligence has been part of vaporware. New software products were known as AI to excite investors and then, when it worked, the code revered to being known as software.

But there is significant value in augmenting human experience with useful information from science, as my brother, Apollo, the God of Education, is fond of pointing out.

When a farmer walks a field, he absorbs information viscerally. That is, deeply and intuitively. The experienced farmer has tacit knowledge based on the color of the leaves, the way his shoes sink into the soil, the smell of the field. Most farmers are not technology-focused data wonks, but they can use insight from research into climate or plant nutrients to inform their decision-making.

Data, processed with AI/ML, provided to farmers in formats that make intuitive sense, can augment what they know about what is happening on their farm and with their crops. AI should stand for Augmented Information, or Actionable Insights, rather than Artificial Intelligence.

Farmers and food processors who used Athena Intelligence reacted similarly to experienced wildfire fighters who see Athena’s maps for the first time. Most of our firefighter contacts spent years working for CalFire or similar organization, and now consult or work for with electrical utilities. When they see a landscape map of their territory, with information from Athena’s Voice of the Acre®, with both the conditions and probability risks, they recognize the augmented intelligence: insights that increase their intuitive grasp of the way a wildfire will behave in the area.

Click here to see for yourself: this is a map of the 2020 fires in Sonoma. Spend some time scrolling around, you can see the risks before the fires, expressed as colors, six months before the fires. Scroll over the map to see where the fires occurred. But then go back a zoom in, look at the boundaries between the Red and the Yellow. Look at the Green areas. You can click to get the risk by for Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Solano and Fairfield, or the census tracks or even the smaller census blocks.

The focus of this ESRI app is the population centers. But since most wildfires originate in the unpopulated parts of the WUI (Wildland Urban Interface), most firefighters responsible for wildfire mitigation focus as much on stopping the fires in the unpopulated areas as they do on preventing outages and property damage in the populated areas.

Aggregating the results of many fires in 2022 in California, Athena Intelligence looked at the risk of wildfire in the 5 miles from fire origin. The table below summarizes the information. Green areas totaled at 8.7%, but the areas that less than one-quarter of that amount. Red areas totaled 54.1% but accounted for 88.1% of burned areas.

More significantly, in every fire reviewed with Voice of the Acre, the movement or spread of fire followed the path of least resistance and highest risk scores. Thus, maps like this can be used for decisions related to capital allocation for wildfire mitigation and prevention efforts.

If you are working with a utility or community resilience group and would like to see how past wildfires behaved, with respect to the conditions on the ground prior to the fire, reach out to us at

Athena Intelligence doesn’t know where fires will start, but at the end of the year, when you look back, 70% or more of all the wildfires that occurred will be in areas which at the beginning of the year, were scored as Red by Voice of the Acre®. Similarly, at the end of the year, regardless of how many fires occur, or where they occur, 5% or less will have occurred in areas which scored Green.

That is the power of AI or Augmented Information. Forget the artificial in Artificial Intelligence, for terrain-based Actionable Insights, think Athena Intelligence.

Athena is a next generation InsurTech data vendor which produces synthetic data. The earth’s essential data is refined, using machine learning, to make it easy for enterprises to use environmental information for future contracts, proprietary business decisions and risk management.

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Athena Intelligence

Athena Intelligence weaves vast amounts of disaggregated environmental data. Drop us a line (, or visit