Sebastian Thrun: AI Pioneer Seeks Education Revolution

By Alison van Diggelen, Huffington Post

“Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems,” wrote Tom Friedman in 2013. But of course, his and Thrun’s rosy predictions couldn’t happen overnight. The online learning business had some serious teething problems with high drop out rates, and dismal failure rates. But today, the future of online education is looking brighter. There are now hundreds of online education companies around the globe. In the U.S. the big three are: Coursera (a Stanford startup) which now boasts 15 million students; EdX (affiliated with MIT and Harvard) with over 5 million users; and Udacity, 4 million. Since Udacity’s high profile failure at San Jose State, the company has refocused its online courses and recently partnered with Google, AT&T and Amazon to design “nanodegrees” tailored to the needs of tech companies. Thrun is so bullish about the market value of these 4-12 month nanodegrees, which offer project based learning, that he’s offering a money-back job guarantee.

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