By @SimonCocking. Great interview with Kassandra Perlongo. Managing Editor . MSc (2017), robotics, autonomous cars.

Tell us a little about your role with Robohub?

My name is Kassie Perlongo and I work as the Managing Editor for Robohub. Robohub is a non-profit dedicated to communicating about robotics. Our goal is to dehype misconceptions about robots and to bring accurate, truthful, non-biased information directly from the experts.

You can reach me at [email protected].

What is your background briefly?

I have a Master of Arts in English Literature. Like most humanities majors I wasn’t exactly sure about my career. I worked in sales, advertising, marketing and communications. I found that in all my jobs I gravitated towards research, problem solving, strategy discussions, and meeting with intelligent, witty people across all sorts of disciplines. In my previous work as a Research Comms Officer at University of Oxford, I discovered science communication. Something clicked personally and professionally, that was my life-changing moment. I started MSc courses at UWE in Bristol, eventually came on board to Robohub and the rest, as they say, is history.

Where are you from? What brought you to the UK?

Originally I am from California. I grew up in the Central Valley and moved to San Diego for my undergrad, then decided to do graduate school in Sacramento. California girl, through and through.  I studied abroad at Swansea University during my graduate studies and fell in love with Wales and a Welshman, too. My parents knew after that I was going to end up moving overseas. Luckily I’m a dual Italian citizen so it made my transition moving to the UK a lot easier. And, yes, I did end up getting married to the Welshman!

How was Robohub founded? What are your plans for 2017?

Robohub initially began as a podcast 10 years ago by co-founders Sabine Hauert (President of Robohub) and Markus Waibel at ETH Zurich. From there, it grew into an educational platform that hosts editorial content, the podcast channel, and robotics related jobs. We receive about 85-90K unique visitors to the website each month and our social media channels continue to grow.

In 2016, we partnered with SPARC to write an original 10-part focus series about the growth of European Robotics, then a 3-part series about The Robot Economy. We interviewed experts about the latest robotics technology and looked at automated farming and mining, and the impact of robots on policy, the economy, and jobs. We also worked with Airbus at ICRA and covered the Airbus Shopfloor Challenge which was TONS of fun! For 2017, expect more of these types of collaborative efforts as well as continued original content with our Robohub roundtables, where each month we ask experts in our community to comment on relevant hot topics happening in robotics.

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Thanks for partnering with Irish Tech News! Who is a typical reader of Robohub?

Our readers are intelligent, most likely college-educated, and deeply passionate about technology, robotics, and science fiction! They are likely involved in robotics or deeply interested in it– maybe as a student, enthusiast, academic, researcher, or as a start-up. The best part of my day is hearing, “Hey, I read Robohub! Can I contribute?” One of the coolest compliments I received was from a surgeon, who I can only imagine is incredibly busy, but took the time to email and say how much he enjoyed reading Robohub every day. It’s great to have that sort of impact on people’s lives. I try to keep an eye out for interesting stories I know our audience will enjoy, like robot teardowns, or getting behind the scenes to read a winning team’s story. Stories main stream media will most likely not cover!

What were some of your favourite articles you have published?

I’m interested in bigger questions: what are the ethical implications for autonomous vehicles, how will robotics challenge policies in society? Michael Szollosy wrote a fantastic piece questioning whether humans are becoming more robot than the actual robots in Westworld, Alan Winfield discussed how easy it could be to transform a robot from ethical to unethical, and two of my favourite roundtable discussions involved looking at why robotics crowdfunding projects fail and pet peeves in dealing with public perceptions of robotics and AI. 

And although I don’t have a single favourite to pick, I am obsessed with reading everything I can about the autonomous car industry.

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What is your ideal vision of a robo enhanced future?

I see it as the great equaliser. If there’s one thing I’ve learned working for Robohub is that making robots is still challenging. Robots are tools. And such, I see them improving people’s lives. Robots can help in medical settings by doing dull or repetitive tasks, allowing care givers to focus on human relationships.  My uncle was wheelchair bound his entire life, over 40 years. I can only imagine how different his life would have been with an exoskeleton helping him to walk, or putting away dishes in high cupboards, or even arranging an autonomous car to pick him up without relying on others to drive him. That is my ideal robo enhanced future. I’m inspired by movies like Robot&Frank and Big Hero 6 where we see a cooperative, fun, and better future alongside our robot companions.

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