Jordan Burgess

Engineering graduate, EF 2014 cohort

How different will the world be in 30 years? If we continue on our trajectory from the past 30, we may be only decades away from creating artificial intelligence vastly more powerful than humankind.

Creating AI would be the most important event of human history. Everything that civilisation has created, good and bad, has been the result of our intelligence. As technology acquires a mind of its own, and continues to expand, many predict we’ll enter a world where biological intelligence is no longer the dominant force in our universe. It sounds like science fiction, but should we take it seriously?

This prediction is based on extrapolating the exponential growth we have seen in information technologies. Moore’s law is one example, which states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. Over different time scales, the same is true of processing power, network bandwidth, storage capacity, brain scanning resolution and more. Importantly, the trend seems to extend beyond any one particular technology — the curve for calculations per second extends back to vacuum tubes and electro-mechanical devices.

The trend of exponential growth extends Moore’s law to earlier technologies and is expected to continue in to the future – Courtesy of Kurzweil Technologies, Inc. Creative Commons 1.0

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Cluster Lists

Simple drag-and-drop twitter lists

Hello. I’ve made a thing. You can use it to organise people on Twitter into lists. I use it to separate out my actual friends from all the prolific tech bloggers and news sites. I can look at my friends list and not miss anything they tweet (if I wanted).

Check it out at ClusterLists.com.

Sure, Twitter.com does have this functionality built in, but it’s hidden behind at least five clicks. This is Drag-and-Drop Simple™

I made it with Meteor – a JavaScript web framework that you should be excited to use. If you’re interested in how you can look through the source code.

Leaving your own company

There are a lot of topics I want to talk about and things I want to share but right now I feel constrained from doing so until I fill in for my glaring absence since my last post, five months ago.

Back then I was working on my company and excited about the promise it held. Recently, I have stopped working on it as I realised it wasn’t quite what I wanted, though the company will still continue.

It was a personal decision to leave. One which was deliberated with a lot of anguish. Leaving your own company you’ve built up, especially when it is growing real revenue and helping real customers is an incredibly difficult thing to do. But overall, I feel like I will probably have a better outcome and be happier as a result if concentrate my efforts into something else with someone else. I still have countless opportunities ahead of me.

Later, I might expand upon this to not be so damn elusive and talk about what actually happened. Maybe I can derive some life lessons for others to learn from. My attempts to do so now while the company is still a going-concern quickly become self-censored, confused and rambling. In future I’m going to make absolutely no promises at all about what I will post except that it will be sporadic and mostly crap. Writing in public is difficult and I need to reduce my mental barriers to it.

6 Weeks into Entrepreneur First.

My cofounder Pratik and me, basking in our post-incorporation glow.

It’s been well over two months since my promise of blogging about the highs and lows of creating a startup. So, obviously I’ve done a poor job of doing so. This is for three reasons:

  1. “No one wants to see how the sausage is made.” Apparently I’m a sausage. Or currently the mechincally recovered meat.
  2. When you’ve got a hundred things you could work on to improve your startup, personal blogging is seen as low priority.
  3. When things aren’t always going the way you hope, blogging about it is undesirable.

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Retina Twitter

A chrome extension to replace low resolution twitter avatars with a sharper retina-ready equivalent.

Just to scratch my own minuscule itch that Twitter still looks so crap on retina displays I’ve created my very first chrome extension.

It’s super simple right now, just replaces the 48px avatars with their 73px equivalent. There are probably a few other higher resolution gains up for grabs.

— Pull requests very welcome: https://github.com/jordn/retina-twitter

I have just graduated university and I’m going to create a business.

Ideation session with Entrepreneur First

Oddly enough, at this point I don’t know what that company will be, what problem it will solve or even who I’m going to start it with. To get there I’m spending, at very least, the next nine months working on ideas, solving problems, and ultimately making something people want.

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Using algorithms to automate the design of optimally stiff structures

Starting with a 1200px x 600px grey beam, loaded in the centre, this automatically figures out where the best layout of the material is.

The result is fantastically similar to bone structures and other designs found in nature.

This video is part of my long project investigation into the compromises of using topology optimisation to design optimally stiff structures. It’s very cool!

Django on Heroku and S3

A clean Django project running on Heroku with static files served from Amazon S3, following the 12-factor design pattern.

I got lost trying to find a guide to simply use django (a framework to help make web sites using python) on heroku (a scalable “easy” web host) as you have to serve up the static files (images, css, js etc.) elsewhere.

So here’s a project and guide to get you going, using Amazon S3 to serve the static files. All the sensitive, environment dependent settings are also removed out of the files and into environmental variables for security.

(FCO Univas agency)

One of the best advertising campaigns of all time.

Going on holiday and wanting to feel like I wasn’t just completely avoiding revision, I found a book that amazingly manages to combine a textbook on operational management into a highly emotion thriller…

It starts with the lead guy being a bit crap at managing his life and factory. As a result he’s teetering on the edge of having his plant closed and his wife leave him. As a reader, that’s it, you’re hooked from the start.

The book follows the miraculously path he takes to turn his life around. From a chance encounter from a wise sage (modeled entirely on the author) he slowly learns that a lot of the measurements they were using to try to improve their plant obscured what really matters. Anything that doesn’t contribute directly towards the goal (the goal is to make money) should be avoided. So throughput good, operational expense bad, inventory bad. And pacing anything to go faster than the bottlenecks, whether they’re machines, customer demand or the fat kid in a strange subplot about boy scouts walking along a path, doesn’t really help.

To be fair, the book seems to get a lot right. It hints at most ‘lean’ thinking before most factories understood such a thing existed. The story, however, is understandably pretty rubbish, and the technical content quite clumsily shoehorned in. It is notable that I do feel like I understood and retained more of the content better than had it been a standard textbook chapter. I’m now curious if there are more books out there that take this approach.

And if you want to know how it ends… **Spoiler alert**: he doesn’t lose his job, or the factory. In fact he heroically fights a broken system and wins, becoming the celebrated new divisional manager with his re-enamored wife at his side. Incredible.