Stanford offers free AI course, 60,000+ sign up

By , ITworld |  Software, AI, education

flickr/Eirick Newth

As the old joke says, the reason we so desperately search for AI (Artificial Intelligence) is because there's so little natural intelligence (no political jokes, please). And while some may think the grand plans of AI have come to nothing because there aren't autonomous robots cleaning our house like in The Jetsons, think about recommendations on Amazon based on previous purposes, airplane auto-pilot equipment, and self-driving cars from Google and others.

[Tech we took from science fiction and How to give a robot vacuum the appeal of real personality]

Sebastian Thrun (head of the Google robotic car project) and Peter Norvig (author of a leading textbook on the subject and director of research at Google) are heading up the free class given through Stanford. According to the story in The New York Times, news went out about the free class earlier this summer, but in the last few weeks the class "went viral" and 60,000 and counting have signed up already.

While no one expects 60,000 new fully qualified AI programmers by the end of the class, excitement is high. You will need some solid math and programming skills. But while the rest of us watch mindless TV this fall, some will be creating artificial minds, or at least learning about them.

Gung Ho!

At this time 62,024 people have signed up. No better make that 62,025 -- I just enrolled. Why not -- It's free, sounds interesting, and I'll probably learn something. See you in class.
nancynancy on nytimes.com

Thanks Stanford, should be awesome - looking forward to it!
Misfit on spectrum.ieee.org

I'm Brazilian student of Computer Science and i realy think it will be amazing!!!!
Bruno Neves on spectrum.ieee.org

Government should sponsor this kind of thing, seems like there are a lot of people out there that want to learn more and these kind of quality courses should scale fairly well. Sure it won't replace the real course but it will teach a lot of people a lot of things.
robryan on news.ycombinator.com

This is why Stanford is one of the most innovative Universities in the world.
cbchill on nytimes.com

Nervous

Like many CS courses (and applied science courses) this is a very demanding class. I doubt that 20% of the Stanford students would be comfortable completing it.
Ted Christopher on nytimes.com

We should run a betting pool for this. I'd bet at even money than more than 90% of online signups fail to complete the course. Give me decent odds and I'll bump that up to 95%
mhartl on news.ycombinator.com

According to the page for the regular Stanford course "A solid understanding of probability and linear algebra will be required" and there's a recommended Python tutorial.
Klint Finley on readwriteweb.com

Skeptical

It is a threat to many small colleges who will lose their students to Stanford online, which can teach 64,000 students at a time! This will concentrate the power at top universities, and eliminate most every other school.
VinceProfessor on nytimes.com

I'm curious if any of the Stanford students who are paying thousands for this course are worried about the diminished return they might get from their professor.
xbryanx on news.ycombinator.com

The more software literacy in general, and AI expertise in particular, the higher the chance of making some positive improvements in the world, right? So do you think this is A) grand, or B) showing off by Stanford?

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