Saturday, December 17, 2011

Artificial Intelligence Class

I just finished all the lectures and quizzes for the online Artificial Intelligence class I've been taking! Right now my thoughts are jumbled, as seen in the info-graphic that I did
with this wonderful Wordle tool, but a few quick thoughts...

The AI class was an amazing experience. It was taught by a brilliant professor from Stanford, Sebastian Thrun, and a brilliant researcher at Google, Peter Norvig. Professor Norvig is the author of the AI book used in most AI college classes. Professor Thrun's claim to fame is his work on self-driving cars.

The AI class got a lot of press when it was first announced because
  • It scaled to an enormous size (160,000 students signed up for it!)
  • It's free (seriously, entirely free!)
  • It will hopefully disrupt education delivery mechanisms. (Why should students pay $100,000 to listen to some windbag has-been drone on in a lecture hall when the premiere experts in the field want to share their expertise via the Web, for free?)
  • It's global. Most students are from the US, Europe, and India, but quite a few are from other parts of the world too.
  • It's essentially realtime, with deadlines for homework, specific hours to do tests, etc. Note that this is different than just watching a set of videos from a past class.
  • There are two discussion groups: a Q&A one, and a reddit one.
  • There were office hours and Google+ hangouts.
The class taught the same material that is taught in the actual AI class at Stanford, except for no programming exercises. The professors said they couldn't figure out a good way to grade programming assignments for a class of this size.

At least 30,000 of us stuck with the class, perhaps more if you count those of us who did the Basic class. There were two versions:
  • Advanced: video lectures, quizzes, homework, midterm, and final exam
  • Basic: video lectures, quizzes
So much to process! Mostly, I just want to say THANK YOU to the professors. And no, I'm not sucking up to them in hopes of getting a good grade. There are no grades. Yeah! :-)

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