DARPA Driverless Vehicle Champ Will Teach You Artificial Intelligence for Free

Stanford Artificial Intelligence Course

Stanford Artificial Intelligence Course

Remember the DARPA Grand Challenge? It's been covered here on The Kneeslider several times when Ghostrider, the riderless motorcycle, was trying to qualify, it involved vehicles traversing a technically challenging course without any human intervention. Sebastian Thrun, who is director of the Stanford AI Lab, led the team that won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge and went on to work on Google's self-driving car. Thrun, along with Peter Norvig, the Director of Research at Google, will be teaching an online "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" class beginning September 26th. Several hundred Stanford students will be taking the course and now, so can you. Oh, by the way, ... it's free!

Stanford has been offering some portions of its classes online for a few years, but this year, for CS221: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, the entire class will be online and you can sign up. There is no cost, however, you have to do the work, study, take quizzes and complete graded homework assignments, plus midterm and final exams. You'll need to buy the book that accompanies the course but the course itself is free.

If you survive, you'll get a certificate of completion from the instructors, along with a final grade that you can compare to the grades of all those supersmart kids at Stanford.

You won't technically earn credits for the course unless you're a Stanford student, but for all practical purposes, you'll be getting the exact same knowledge and experience

This is one more great example of opportunities to learn popping up everywhere. Anyone who wants to learn, can learn. There's no shortage of real knowledge available at low cost or no cost, all it takes is initiative and motivation. Whether it's MIT putting all of their courses online or the Khan Academy offering thousands of free videos online, it's all out there waiting for you, but no one can make you do it, you have to do that yourself. Over 10,000 students have signed up already, class starts September 26th, but you must sign up by the 20th.

So, do you think you're up to it? Find out if you have what it takes. Check it out.

Link: Stanford AI Class
Link: Spectrum


  1. Eric says

    All this free education is great! Too bad it doesn’t MEAN anything. Most jobs, and by that I mean most jobs that are worth having, still require you to ‘Get that piece of paper’ in order to ‘Get that job’. What good is all the knowledge in the world if you can’t use it?

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      Think for a moment what this is, it’s a college course taught by two of the world’s leading experts in a cutting edge high technology field offered for free to anyone motivated enough to do the work and learn the material. Suppose you’re looking for a job in some technical field and during the interview, you’re asked, “what have you been doing with your time?” You could tell the person “My lawn is weed free and I saw the entire series of Jersey Shore reruns.” On the other hand, you could say, “I’m just finishing an introductory course in artificial intelligence taught by two of the world’s leading experts at Stanford.” Even without a degree, that second answer is a lot better than the first.

      As to your last question, you don’t need anyone’s permission to use your knowledge. If you can solve someone’s problems with the knowledge you have, you’ll have lots of opportunities to apply it. Too many people go into job interviews trying to solve their own problem, getting that job, instead of trying to solve the employer’s problem. Companies aren’t interested in your problem. Offering solutions to their problems is the way to solve yours. Better yet, if you can offer solutions to solve an individual’s problem, you don’t even need a job, start your own business and use all of your knowledge, no degree or permission required.

  2. qrazyqat says

    Yeah, learning about advanced robotics and controllers is so useless nowadays; definitely no job potential there.

    Of course some people like to learn cool stuff for the sake of cool learning.

    The other good thing here is that you can create a robotic rider to ride that ultra-bike motorcycle you have no time to ride because you’re working all day every day to pay for it. :)

  3. Tin Man says

    You Folks can talk all day long about the importance of education, but that slip of paper means next to nothing without an aggressive hard working person behind it. Diplomas are well and fine but its the Guy who can do things that runs the world. I’m not sure what a Motorcycle that needs no rider is good for, Yes, its high Tech, but Tech for Techs sake is just a waste of recources.

  4. Tin Man says

    What we need is Productivity, not just the Power. This Economy has too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. We all are living off the Wealth that was manufacturered by our fore fathers, We need to actaully MAKE things again, not just hold meetings talking about Tech advances. Get out and actaully DO something!!

  5. Nortley says

    One brain cell is waiting for artificial intelligence to conquer natural stupidity. The other cell fears that very possibility.

  6. QrazyQat says

    You know, TM, Nothing makes people turn on Their inner Ignore it button like random Capitalization. :)

    For myself, and this is just me mind you, I do like my engineers to actually learn something before they build.

  7. GenWaylaid says

    Do we have any information about the magnitude of the homework and exams? People should know what they’re getting into. This could be a “gloss” course that rushes over the very wide field of A.I. without giving the students enough knowledge to actually apply the algorithms. On the other hand, it could be like the couple of A.I. grad courses I took at MIT which involved so much intensive programming and research that one of them sucked up all my time for a semester and I had to audit the other to make enough time to get my thesis done.

    My interest in A.I. has cooled as a direct result of those courses. I discovered just how mind-bogglingly computationally intensive the current methods are. In fact, I wouldn’t call today’s A.I. programs “smart,” just “thorough.” I recently read Hofstadter and discovered that these concerns with the field have been recognized for over thirty years.

    As for the purpose of a riderless motorcycle, bear in mind that right now robots can’t run. A motorcycle provides a relatively simple way to investigate the balance issues involved in running legged robots.

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      From the Spectrum article:

      There will be at least 10 hours per week of studying, along with (8) weekly graded homework assignments plus midterm and final. The professors will be available to answer your questions.

      There are a couple of videos on the Stanford site where Thrun says this is a “serious” class and will involve some work. The second video shows the syllabus: statistics, Bayes networks, machine learning, Markov decision processes and a lot more. Not a “gloss” course in my view but definitely interesting. This is an intro course, so I’m guessing anyone truly ready for undergraduate work with an interest in the material should do fine.

  8. mARK says

    This program has expanded into http://www.udacity.com/ which has 11 classes, and a certification process. It also has a process for showing partner companies your class performance for free. This solves the biggest problem with these free courses. My only problem with it is that I don’t see how much certification costs.