Sebastian Thrun Quotes

  1. You can’t change the world without a certain amount of healthy willingness to break the rules.
  2. It’s my dream to make learning as addictive as a video game.
  3. I’m really looking forward to a time when generations after us look back and say how ridiculous it was that humans were driving cars.
  4. Technology is synonymous for connection with other people.
  5. The bar to get entry into the labour force is rising faster than people expected, and the ability to stay there is falling.
  6. I like to put myself in the most uncomfortable position.
  7. Online education that leaves almost everybody behind except for highly motivated students, to me, can’t be a viable path to education.
  8. With the right care at the right time, a huge number of people could stay independent much longer, with a higher quality of life.
  9. Mercedes does beautiful work, absolutely.
  10. You could get an entire computer science education for free right now.
  11. Outside the U.S., most data plans have a data limit.
  12. There’s a lot to be learned about how digital media, the ability to reach anybody any time, really transforms the peer interaction experience in education at large.
  13. I am a really impatient person who wants to see many issues fixed with solutions that don’t yet exist.
  14. Almost everything interesting hasn’t been invented yet.
  15. My take is that A.I. is taking over. A few humans might still be ‘in charge,’ but less and less so.
  16. There are a lot of old-fashioned things we perpetuate that come from a world that’s not digital, not interactive, and not online, and we try to retain it.
  17. I’ve developed my passion for cars that drive themselves from being stuck in traffic for many, many, many hours of my life. I don’t know what it adds up to, but I feel like I’ve lost a year or two just in traffic. That’s big to me. That’s a lot of time, a lot of money that I just lose on the road.
  18. As a child, I spent a lot of time with things like Lego, building trains, cars, complex structures, and I really liked that.
  19. Education used to be a slice of life, something you did as a child through college, and then spent the rest of your life working, and then death. Everything is about to change. I believe education will become something that fits seamlessly into life, and we will take big clunky things like degrees and college and fit them into a weekend.
  20. I’ve always believed that human learning is the result of relatively simple rules combined with massive amounts of hardware and massive amounts of data.
  21. Almost all accidents take place because of human distraction.
  22. At Udacity, we always strive to make things better and learn from our mistakes.
  23. I believe e-courses will eventually change people’s attitude toward learning. Education will play an increasingly dominant role in people’s lives. For people of all ages and all geographies.
  24. Even as a college professor at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford, I saw myself as an entrepreneur, and I went out, took risks, and tried to invent new things, such as participating in the DARPA Grand Challenge and working on self-driving cars.
  25. I don’t think we will put higher-ed out of business. I think we’ll evolve it. More access, higher quality, lower costs, more global reach.
  26. There will be no more one-size-fits-all. Education will respond to you.
  27. Honestly, the average American spends about 52 minutes a day in commute traffic. And as much as I love driving my car and many people like driving their car, commuting has never been fun for me.
  28. You can learn for your own sake, and that’s fine, but if you come to Udacity, you learn because you want someone else to understand what you learned.
  29. The teachers I know are extremely dedicated people.
  30. Machine learning is the science of getting computers to learn without being explicitly programmed.
  31. Safety has been paramount for the Google self-driving car team from the very beginning.
  32. I always love to be careful with my expectations so that life has pleasant surprises for me.
  33. If we could do away with traffic accidents, that’d be wonderful. There’d be more than a million people saved every year on this planet.
  34. Top notch Indian employers such as Flipkart have hired Udacity Nanodegree graduates based solely on their performance in our programme, without any in-person interview.
  35. I had been an academic all my life. As academics, you tend to believe the smartest people are in academia.
  36. When I turned 18, I lost my best friend to a car accident.
  37. To me, mathematics, computer science, and the arts are insanely related. They’re all creative expressions.
  38. Do you know that driving accidents are the number one cause of death for young people?
  39. I learned to basically pull my own weight, just do my own thing. I spent a lot of time alone and I loved it. It was actually really great because to the present day I love spending time alone. I go bicycling alone, go climbing alone and I just love being with myself and observing myself and learning something.
  40. I’d really love to see a business model for higher education going forward that is actually affordable, that uses modern technology to reach scale and quality and that really reimburses the services rendered in a way that’s meaningful to everybody.
  41. Most cars are parked at any point in time; my estimate is that I use my car about three percent of the time.
  42. I always felt that if countries knew each other better, there would be less war. Often, conflict goes with demonizing other countries and cultures.
  43. I feel every technology can be abused, but fundamentally we put new technologies into the service of humanity.
  44. This is the age of disruption.
  45. The Jetsons had them in the 1960s. They were the defining element of ‘Knight Rider’ in the 1980s: cars that drive themselves. Self-driving cars appear in countless science fiction movies. By Hollywood standards, they are so normal we don’t even notice them. But in real life, they still don’t exist. What if you could buy one today?
  46. Most rules that you think are written in stone are just societal. You can change the game and really reach for the stars and make the world a better place.
  47. In much of computer science, I can easily ‘auto-grade’ your work and give you an instant meaningful feedback. I can’t do this when it comes to the subtlety of human thought, language, poetry, philosophy.
  48. There are few moments in my life where I really remember what I was doing.
  49. That’s what Google taught me. Aim higher. Udacity is my playground – to radically experiment and find out. I’ve seen the light.
  50. There’s almost no problem that can’t be solved. That’s important as a premise. History has proven it over and over again.
  51. Access to high-quality education is way too limited. The United States has the world’s most admirable higher education system, and yet it is very restrictive. It’s so hard to get into. I never got into it as a student.
  52. I love to throw myself into situations where I don’t understand everything yet.
  53. People complain about the rich-and-poor divide. It’s crazy, no doubt about it. But what gets me is that today, a billionaire or head of state on their smartphone has the same direct access to information as a homeless person has on a smartphone – or a person in Bangladesh or Papua New Guinea.
  54. Perhaps we can get to the point where we can outsource our own personal experiences entirely into a computer – and possibly our own personality.
  55. I have been spending the better part of my professional life trying to create self-driving cars. At Google, I am working with a world-class team of engineers to turn science fiction into reality.
  56. We’re often too entrenched in existing structures and are so primed to think that if we grew up with the values and the norms, they have to be correct.
  57. We humans usually feel that we are the best at everything we do, that we can safely drive ourselves. But tens of thousands of people die every year. We need to be open to having technology assist us, to find ways in which technology makes us safer.
  58. No state in the U.S. expressly forbids autonomous driving.
  59. Google X is here to do moonshot-type projects. Not just shooting to the moon, but bringing the moon back to Earth.
  60. Larry Page, co-founder of Google, is an unbelievable big thinker, and there was a saying in Google that if you wanted to know the future, go to Larry.
  61. It’s sad that we never get trained to leave assumptions behind.
  62. It’s important to celebrate your failures as much as your successes. If you celebrate your failures really well, and if you get to the motto and say, ‘Wow, I failed, I tried, I was wrong, I learned something,’ then you realize you have no fear, and when your fear goes away, you can move the world.
  63. Horizontal meetings are team or project meetings, set up to coordinate individual activities. When I worked in a large tech company, those meetings just popped up in my calendar by the dozen.
  64. I am particularly surprised that certain outlets look at pass rates irrespective of student population. As if inner city high school kids are to fare as well as college students.
  65. In most parts of the world, starting a company that goes bust is dubbed a ‘failure.’ In Silicon Valley, we call this ‘gaining experience.’ We are willing to take the risks that are inherent for innovation.
  66. It’s a no-brainer for me that at some point our cars will have the ability to drive themselves.
  67. I feel like everyone has this competitive instinct.
  68. I have learned, if you give a team a budget, then the team tries to maximise the budget so that they get the same next year.
  69. Self-driving cars will enable car-sharing even in spread-out suburbs. A car will come to you just when you need it. And when you are done with it, the car will just drive away, so you won’t even have to look for parking.
  70. I can give my love of learning to other people.
  71. With any new medium, the full power is only unearthed with experimentation.
  72. As a college student, what really interested me was the human brain and human intelligence.
  73. Innovation means change.
  74. I take all day to climb mountains and then spend about 10 minutes at the top admiring the view.
  75. The individualization of learning fundamentally redefines the role of assessment.
  76. Many students learn best by doing. But because classrooms force the same pace on all students, they limit the degree to which students can truly learn through trial and error. Instead, lectures still force many students to follow material passively and in lockstep pace.
  77. Flipkart is one of the most innovative companies in the way it approaches the market.
  78. You could claim that moving from pixelated perception, where the robot looks at sensor data, to understanding and predicting the environment is a Holy Grail of artificial intelligence.
  79. We don’t live in a world where any job lasts forever.
  80. Corporate America is drowning in meetings. To make one thing clear, I am not against communication. Quick one-on-ones can be extremely effective. I am talking about those hour-long recurring meetings, devoid of a clear agenda, and attended by many. I dread them.
  81. There is enormous value in face to face interaction.
  82. Giving education away for free is a really good idea, but it can’t be the future of education. There has to be a business model around it that actually works.
  83. When you program a robot to be intelligent, you learn a number of things. You become very humble and develop enormous respect for natural intelligence because, even if you work day and night for several years, your robot isn’t that smart after all.
  84. We’re making progress, but getting machines to replicate our ability to perceive and manipulate the world remains incredibly hard.
  85. Question every assumption and go towards the problem, like the way they flew to the moon. We should have more moon shots and flights to the moon in areas of societal importance.
  86. Because of the increased efficiency of machines, it is getting harder and harder for a human to make a productive contribution to society.
  87. I’d aspired to give people a profound education – to teach them something substantial. But the data was at odds with this idea.
  88. I wanted to participate in the political responsibilities of an American citizen. I wanted to vote. I wanted to be a full member of the American community. I made America my home country. It’s my identity in many ways.
  89. At the end of the day, the true value proposition of education is employment.
  90. When you raise a child, you don’t sit down and take all the rules of life, write them into a big catalog, and start reading the child all these individual rules from A to Z. When we raise a child, a lot of what we do is let the child experiment and guide the experimentation. The child basically has to process his own data and learn from experience.
  91. I used to tell my graduate students at Stanford, ‘Don’t worry about what job you have to pick because your job picks you. Let your job pick you. Find something you are passionate about. Then when you are passionate, be persistent. Just keep doing it for a while because progress is always hard work. It never rests in ideas.’
  92. I ultimately got into robotics because for me, it was the best way to study intelligence.
  93. Elite colleges like Stanford are extremely inaccessible. They’re failing in their mission to provide access.
  94. I have a strong disrespect for authority and for rules. Including gravity. Gravity sucks.
  95. Call me an optimist, but in the past 300 years we have built amazing technologies which – by and large – have advanced humanity.
  96. Nobody phrases it this way, but I think that artificial intelligence is almost a humanities discipline. It’s really an attempt to understand human intelligence and human cognition.
  97. We should have lifelong monitoring of our vital signs that predict things like skin or pancreatic cancer so we can eradicate it. We should have personalized medicine; there’s a huge amount of innovation possible.
  98. Millions of Americans are denied the privilege of driving on health grounds.
  99. If you look at the ability of a self-driving car to stay in the lane and not to speed and keep a good distance to the car in front of you, it actually does better than me.
  100. The last thing I want my robot to be is sarcastic. I want them to be pragmatic and reliable – just like my dishwasher.
  101. You have to understand that teaching online is different, just like movies are different from the stage and TV is different from radio.
  102. I literally worked at research labs where the staff really tried to steer management away from the modern technology that was actually better.
  103. We could live in a much better society if there was less personal car ownership.
  104. You don’t lose weight by watching someone else exercise. You don’t learn by watching someone else solve problems. It became clear to me that the only way to do online learning effectively is to have students solve problems.
  105. You are going to fail, and failing, for me, is as joyful as succeeding. Failing means that there is something to learn, and we can improve and do it better next time.
  106. There is a simple fix to our excessive meeting culture, but it is not easy to implement. It’s one of these things that are easy to say but hard to do. The fix is: abandon all recurring meetings. I am serious. All!
  107. In the field of higher ed, many have asked whether (or when) digital education will replace on-campus education. I wonder the opposite. Cinema never replaced theatre. TV didn’t replace radio. I wonder how different digital education will be from classrooms, and where it will lead us.
  108. We don’t look at problems logically, we look at them emotionally. We look at them through the guts. We look at them as if we’re doing a high school problem, like what is beautiful, what makes me recognized among my peers. We don’t go and think about things. We, as a society, don’t wish to engage in rational thought.
  109. Obviously, a lot of non-profits live on donations, and that’s a wonderful thing. But higher education can’t exist on donations only because, if that were the case, we would have a hard time paying teachers adequate salaries.
  110. In my son’s kindergarten, they’re telling us how to get him into Stanford. By their advice, I’m doing everything wrong, because I’m trying to make him happy rather than putting him through as many piano lessons as possible.
  111. I envision a future without traffic accidents or congestion. A future where everyone can use a car.
  112. I find it amazingly easy to take something, if you really believe in it, and turn it to reality.
  113. The idea of ‘interview-less hiring’ is new and a trend we will see in the changing global job market.
  114. Few ideas work on the first try. Iteration is key to innovation.
  115. Less than one percent of U.S. college students attend Ivy League schools, and these students don’t necessarily reflect the world’s brightest and most capable thought leaders but, rather, the people who’ve been afforded the most opportunities to succeed.
  116. Every time I act on a fear, I feel disappointed in myself. I have a lot of fear. If I can quit all fear in my life and all guilt, then I tend to be much, much more living up to my standards. I’ve never seen a person fail if they didn’t fear failure.
  117. I care about education for everyone, not just the elite.
  118. There are already robotic journalists. Sure, they aren’t very good, but they’re getting better faster than human journalists are.
  119. The biggest invention of modern time is the book. The book is a digital medium; book text is written in a different form and replicable. What it really does is it allows us to replicate cultural information, scientific technology, and information out of the human brain.
  120. The 99 percent should be protesting college campuses.
  121. If you focus on the single question of who knows best what students need in the workforce, it’s the people already in the workforce. Why not give industry a voice?
  122. I really believe that we have to work hard to make online education better and better, and eventually it’s going to be really great. But like most of these things, it takes time to improve, to understand and to make things really good.
  123. I have a really deep belief that we create technologies to empower ourselves. We’ve invented a lot of technology that just makes us all faster and better, and I’m generally a big fan of this. I just want to make sure that this technology stays subservient to people. People are the number one entity there is on this planet.
  124. Education should learn from the positive side of gaming – reward, accomplishment, and fun.
  125. I was a popular professor. My teaching ratings were usually good. I could take complicated subjects and explain them in an entertaining way.
  126. If we study learning as a data science, we can reverse engineer the human brain and tailor learning techniques to maximize the chances of student success. This is the biggest revolution that could happen in education, turning it into a data-driven science, and not such a medieval set of rumors professors tend to carry on.
  127. Many of us are inspired and are eager to get things done. But once too many people are involved, life becomes complicated. We are all social beings, so we have an innate urge to incorporate everyone’s thoughts.
  128. We’re now at this place where we can make the evolution of academic content match the evolution of the world.
  129. What I see is democratizing education will change everything.
  130. We need to make education so much fun that students can’t help but learn.
  131. Can we text twice as much while driving, without the guilt? Yes, we can, if only cars will drive themselves.

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