Sure, the autonomous era will wipe out a lot of jobs. Automakers, tech titans, and startups are racing to essentially put four million truckers, cabbies and other drivers out of work. But like all radical technological shifts, self-driving cars will provide opportunities, too--for those with the right skills. Working in the most compelling part of this field requires an understanding of deep learning, the branch of artificial intelligence that trains computers to do things like discern pedestrians from lamp posts. Universities can't crank out graduates fast enough.
Udacity President Sebastian Thrun spoke Thursday at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit. Prepare for your car to become an intellectual giant -- and for you to like it. In a highly optimistic forecast at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco, computer scientist Sebastian Thrun said artificial intelligence will radically reshape our lives for the better. "In the last 200 or 300 years, we have made ourselves into superhumans," able to plow a field a thousand times faster than our ancestors, fly across the Atlantic Ocean and talk to a person in Australia from thousands of miles away, he said. Artificial intelligence will take us to the next step: "Rather than replacing our muscles, we're going to be making our brains stronger."
If you're keeping up with the rapid changes in the technology industry, you're seeing a bunch of terms thrown around as if they're interchangeable--but really, there are some pretty important distinctions. In this post, we're going to demystify the differences, and clarify the relationships, among these terms, especially artificial intelligence, machine learning, and self-driving cars. Let's begin with a simple model for how we'll approach this topic: Artificial intelligence is the broad field that covers all sorts of different initiatives and efforts to create machines that behave intelligently. What exactly it means to'behave intelligently' is a question best left for the philosophers and cognitive scientists, but for us, it refers to creating machines that do the highly complex things that only humans have previously been able to do. That means that AI is about creating machines that do more than just follow the commands that we give them.
The online education company Udacity is partnering with major companies in the field of autonomous vehicles to launch a nanodegree program for those interested in becoming a self-driving car engineer. "It is the first and only program of its kind where most people with an internet connection--from Detroit to Damascus and from Adelaide to Aleppo--can learn the skills they need to work in one of the most amazing fields of our time," Udacity founder and president Sebastian Thrun wrote in a blog post. The course, which spans three 12-week terms, covers deep learning, computer vision, sensor fusion, localization and controllers. Four major partners have committed to fast-tracking the nanodegree graduates into positions around the world: Mercedes-Benz, Nvidia, Otto (recently acquired by Uber) and Didi Chuxing. Thrun promised that more partners will be added to that list.
Self-driving cars are already rolling along in Pittsburgh, thanks to Uber (albeit on a small scale with humans onboard, ready to intervene), and a Wired writer gave it a shot. A bevy of companies are working to put autonomous cars on the streets, but a new announcement by Udacity at TechCrunch Disrupt SF could and should send shockwaves into the nascent industry. Udacity is best known as a titan of online education, specializing in "nanodegrees" for people interested in working in the tech sector. For 2400 and a 9-month commitment, Udacity can turn prospective students into viable experts on self-driving vehicle technology, capable enough to work with the likes of Google, Uber, and other firms working on this next step forward. Of course, new students will need a background in programming, but the course will offer the chance to master deep learning, sensor fusion, vehicle kinematics, and more subjects to enable your new Tesla drive on its own accord.