Meet Simone: Our Savvy AI Engineer at CarbonFarm

Tue Jun 04 2024

Welcome to the first of our Meet the team interview series, where we delve into a one-on-one discussion with the incredible team behind CarbonFarm. Today, we're excited to introduce to you Simone Marullo, our AI Engineer from Italy who plays a crucial role in our rice decarbonisation mission. 

Before delving deep, would you introduce yourself & tell us a bit about your backstory? What led you to this particular career path?

Hello, my name is Dr. Simone Marullo. I am an AI and machine learning expert specialising in sustainable agriculture. My journey began with a Ph.D. in Smart Computing, where I focused on machine learning applications for computer vision, particularly in learning algorithms, continual learning, and online learning. My initial interest lay in the foundational issues surrounding the development of neural models under challenging real-world conditions. Additionally, sustainability has always been a subject I deeply care about. I was really concerned with the lack of decisive action by governments worldwide in addressing the urgent issue of climate change. This motivated me to seek a career where I could use my skills to directly contribute and have a tangible impact.

Since being an AI Engineer is a relatively new profession, we're curious to know what was your dream job as a kid?

I actually wanted to become a soccer player when I was a kid. However, as I grew older, I realised that becoming a soccer champion was highly unlikely, (of course). Another early interest of mine is technology. This started very early, thanks to my father. He was fascinated by the advent of the internet since the early 90s, and this curiosity led me to familiarise myself with computers and the internet from a very young age. I became increasingly intrigued by mathematics and science and appreciated the deep connection between computer science and scientific problem-solving. By the 2020s, this connection had evolved into AI and machine learning, which led me to specialise in this domain.

Why did you choose to join CarbonFarm and what does your day-to-day role entail?

I chose to join CarbonFarm because I saw an opportunity to make a real impact on a pressing global issue - ‘reducing methane from rice cultivation’. The mission of CarbonFarm resonated with me deeply as it combines my passion for AI with my desire to contribute to sustainable practices and climate action. The innovative approach of using satellite technology and AI to increase access to the carbon market and to reduce carbon footprint in agricultural practices presented an exciting challenge. I believed in the potential of this work to make a meaningful difference and I wanted to be a part of that journey. I was also excited to work with an international team full of dedicated, highly motivated people brought together with the same mission.

My day-to-day role includes applying machine learning to satellite data for various applications. This work is crucial for ensuring accurate interpretation of satellite data and contributing to our carbon goals.

What are you most excited about for the future of Carbon Markets?

I am most excited about the growing potential of the carbon market to provide financial incentives to even more farmers, farmers who often live in challenging conditions and are affected by the negative impacts of climate change. Carbon markets can provide these farmers with financial incentives to adopt sustainable practices, offering a form of climate justice. This system not only helps mitigate the effects of climate change but also empowers vulnerable communities, especially in the case of smallholder rice farmers, by supporting their transition to sustainable farming. It’s a way to rectify the imbalance and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future.

Lastly, what is the one quote you live by?

There's a quote I really like, often attributed to Albert Einstein: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them." I find it to be a powerful reminder to think outside the box. It’s particularly relevant to engineering challenges but also applies on personal and societal levels. It's also a humbling reminder that many of our problems originate from our own actions and decisions. As we confront new and urgent problems on a large scale, we must break free from old paradigms and embrace new ways of thinking to find solutions.