From the Editor; October 2011; Scientific American Magazine; by Mariette DiChristina; 1 Page(s)
Around the time you read this, the popular Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course at Stanford University, taught by Sebastian Thrun, director of the AI lab there, and by Peter Norvig, director of research for Google, will be under way. As usual, a couple of hundred Stanford students will be sitting in the room. This year classmates sitting at computers around the world will join them. The pupils who attend virtually won’t pay tuition (or get Stanford credit), but they will all watch the same lectures, read the same textbook, get the same homework and take the same tests. Software will help analyze their submitted questions, so that the professors can address the main themes each week.
I spoke to Norvig while attending the recent Sci Foo—an invitation-only “unconference” hosted by Google, the O’Reilly Media Group and Nature Publishing Group (Scientific American’s parent company). Just two weeks after he and Thrun announced the AI course, more than 57,000 students had enrolled (70,000-plus at press time). “We hope our automated systems hold up,” he joked.