Olga Zinoveva poses at the Seattle video game convention PAX West next to Gluten, a character from one of her favorite games of 2018, “Pit People.” (Photo courtesy of Olga Zinoveva)
Bright Machines, a Seattle-based company working to transform manufacturing automation and efficiency, just launched a year ago. And software engineer Olga Zinoveva only came onboard about a month ago. But already she’s excited about the company’s ambitious goal to make the process of building physical goods just as easy as it is to create digital ones.
Zinoveva, our latest Geek of the Week, is a long way from where she grew up, halfway across the world in Tashkent, Uzbekistan — one of Seattle’s 21 sister cities, coincidentally. Her father moved to Chicago to work in a national lab when she was 11, and the rest of my family came over shortly after … “just for a year.”
“A year turned into two, then a decade, and I’m still here!” Zinoveva said. “Chicago is a beautiful city, and I still think of it as my hometown. I got a taste of the East Coast while studying computer science at Harvard, and I finally ended up in Seattle after graduating. The Pacific Northwest has really grown on me in the last six years, with its intense love of coffee, dogs, IPAs and everything quirky.”
Prior to Bright Machines, Zinoveva spent five years at 343 Industries, the Microsoft studio behind the “Halo” video game franchise. She was on the team that shipped “Halo 5,” and left when the studio was partway through the recently announced “Halo: Infinite.” Gaming remains one of her favorite hobbies, and working working on “Halo” was “pretty much the coolest job to have straight out of college.”
While Zinoveva believes that automation is on an exponential trajectory, certain tasks are easier to automate, while others will require a ton of R&D and involve safety or philosophical and policy questions about the evolving nature of human work.
“In the end, though, my outlook is optimistic — I am confident we will overcome the difficulties and end up in an improved world overall,” she said. “One of the things I look forward to in the next couple of decades is a radically increased accessibility of manufacturing to the average person. If I have a great idea for a device today, even if I’m a skilled hardware and software engineer, I can’t really build and …read more