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Science: Disrupt

Sep 21, 2017

This episode we speak to Jose Carranza, a deep learning PhD researcher in Costa Rica who has taken his expertise to an unexpected field, that of the biological classification of plants. 

We've spoken to plenty of former researchers who have moved out of the academy and into new ventures. However Jose's career has taken a different path, going from engineering roles at Intel and HP, back into academia to tackle a PhD. We were intrigued by the tough challenge of bringing AI to the field of botanical conservation, an area of research that is still highly qualitative, and the language barriers that must be overcome to make progress. These difficulties in communication are bi-directional, but with that said so are the opportunities for learning.

We also get into the value of herbarium's and classifying species in general, from the ecological consequences of understanding the biodiversity at a deep level, to raising the public's appreciation of the natural world (of which Jose is particular passionate). And whether there is a role for botanists in the future, given that deep learning has had great success finding new ways to classify plants - in short botanists have nothing to fear....phew!