TheBridge profile: Olya Gurevich
Name: Olya Gurevich
Current city: San Francisco, CA
Current job: Chief Scientist, Marvelous.ai
Past job: Engineering Manager, Apple Siri
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Caffe Fiore, 24th St in San Francisco
Q. Describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job. Never assume that a task will be one-off, so make everything repeatable (e.g. by writing code to do it).
Q. Job advice in three words? Everyone's a human.
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech / innovation and regulation? Marvelous.ai is developing natural language tools to analyze political discourse in news and social media. We are particularly interested in how messaging spreads, both negatively (propaganda) and positively (pro-democracy campaigns). Our current focus is on detecting political narratives with human-in-the-loop NLP, focussing on the 2020 US presidential elections. So far we’ve looked at political bias of the tweeters and asymmetries in coverage of male vs. female candidates.
Q. What can innovators learn from policymakers? Policymakers (ideally) have a broad and nuanced view of how top-down decisions impact individual people; how various policies have worked in the past and in different parts of the world. Policymakers are more used to thinking of unintended second-order consequences of disruptive decisions. Innovators should be interviewing policymakers in order to find blind spots.
Q. What can policymakers learn from innovators? Innovators have a better understanding of what is and isn't possible to achieve with technology. They are used to quick, small-scale experiments in order to determine the viability of ideas. Policymakers should be open to such experiments in order to fine-tune and speed up their decisions.
Q. Favorite book/podcast/long-form article you recommend? Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics. By Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, Hal Roberts. Oxford University Press. 2018.
Q. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself in the beginning of your career? Ask more questions, both to learn from more experienced folks and to challenge unnecessary assumptions.
Q. What's one piece of advice you are still trying to master? Park on the downhill slope (i.e., end the workday in a way that's easy to resume the next day).
Q. Most underrated virtue in an employee? Empathy.
Q. Last time you were completely unplugged? Camping along the Colorado river with family and zero bars of phone reception.
Q: How do you unwind after work? I sing in a community choir.
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