Stu is one of Xinja’s two interns. He’s studying Economics and Information Systems at The University of Sydney and has held a wide variety of roles during his time at the company. He’s currently helping out the digital delivery team.
Stu is a self-confessed data geek who loves nothing more than watching robots play board games and isn’t afraid to challenge our CEO Eric on anything technical.
"Our culture at Xinja means that everyone has a voice"
Tell us what you do at Xinja
I’m an intern here, but my responsibilities amount to a lot more than making coffee. I do a whole range of things. I started off working in the marketing department, but that was until #digixinja was hired. I’m now doing everything from data to customer experience.
What is your Xinja origin story?
Funnily enough I’m dating the daughter of the Marketing Director. She’s lovely by the way (I mean the daughter just to clarify)....I no longer work in the marketing department.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Working with everyone from the marketing department to the delivery team to some of the developers and taking all of those ideas and trying to apply them to the research that I am doing.
What are you most proud of working with Xinja?
I’m very proud of being able to contribute ideas and be listened to. Our culture at Xinja means that everyone has a voice and we start each working day discussing all the important issues as a group.
What have you learned in your time working at Xinja?
How quickly things move in a start-up, the pace at which things evolve.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?
Definitely getting the prepaid card into the hands of our customers and seeing our hard work pay off, that’s going to be really exciting. And launching our app. We’ve already got some great feedback from the user testing sessions, but it will be interesting to see how customers react to the new features we are launching. Also I'm excited about integrating AI capabilities into our product.
What technology are you most excited about?
It's hard to pick just one. Undoubtedly blockchain and quantum computing are going to have a significant impact in the next decade, but artificial intelligence is probably the topic I’m most passionate about. Computers now have the ability to learn complex patterns and are beginning to make decisions that resemble and surpass human expertise without being explicitly programmed to do so.
They say when IBM’s Deep Blue beat Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov that was one of the great milestones in artificial intelligence. What DeepMind have been able to accomplish with AlphaGo Zero is sort of my generation's DeepBlue. The convergence of Deep and Reinforcement Learning to learn one of the most complex and strategic games without any training data is a monumental achievement!!
Do you think there'll be an AI takeover anytime soon?
When you boil it down to it the AI being used to power self-driving cars and the state-of-the-art image and voice recognition, it's really just matrix multiplication and calculus done over thousands of iterations (sorry if that doesn't make much sense to people). Thinking that the same algorithm used for kitten classification has the capacity to enslave humanity is a bit trivial...so don't panic people!
If you weren't at Xinja, what would you be doing?
I was working at a pub in Kings Cross beforehand, so if I wasn’t here I would probably still be serving beers.
List 3 words to describe Xinja?
Innovative, fast, friendly
What is your Spirit Animal?
I’m a bit dopey and unobservant - I’m in my own bubble a bit, so what animal is like that? Maybe a sloth? No, not a sloth as I’m not slow. Maybe a panda. Because there aren’t many of me out there, I’m unique.
When I’m not watching robots play chess on YouTube, I love to surf and play guitar.
I did some training with the Israeli special forces - it was a pretty horrific 12 hour session and I was tricked into going by a friend. He’s in the special forces and got me involved. You have to be part of the Israeli army to do it, so I had to lie about that and about being Jewish. Not easy given I don’t speak any Hebrew. And I managed to get injured 4 hours in!