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Stanford 'Intro To AI' Course Offered Free Online

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the i'm-afraid-i-can't-let-you-do-that dept.

AI 148

An anonymous reader writes "IEEE Spectrum reports that Stanford's CS221 course 'Introduction to Artificial Intelligence' will be offered online for free. Anyone can sign up and take the course, along with several hundred Stanford undergrads. The instructors are Sebastian Thrun, known for his self-driving cars, and Peter Norvig, director of research at Google. Online students will actually have to do all the same work as the Stanford students. There will be at least 10 hours per week of studying, along with weekly graded homework assignments and midterm and final exams. The instructors, who will be available to answer questions, will issue a certificate for those who complete the course, along with a final grade that can be compared to the grades of the Stanford students. The course, which will last 10 weeks, starts on October 2nd, and online enrollment is now open." When asked how they would deal with ten thousand students, Professor Thrun replied: "We will use something akin to Google Moderator to make sure Peter and I answer the most pressing questions. Our hypothesis is that even in a class of 10,000, there will only be a fixed number of really interesting questions (like 15 per week). There exist tools to find them."

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148 comments

Ahh AI (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987808)

Just like personal robots, flying cars, and apartments on the moon, a worth while dream.

Not what you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988004)

Just like personal robots, flying cars, and apartments on the moon, a worth while dream.

AI does not just mean electronic human brains.

Re:Not what you think (2, Informative)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988144)

CS221 is the introductory course into the field of Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University. It covers basic elements of AI, such as knowledge representation, inference, machine learning, planning and game playing, information retrieval, and computer vision and robotics. CS221 is a broad course aimed to teach students the very basics of modern AI. It is prerequisite to many other, more specialized AI classes at Stanford University.

sounds like electronic human brains is the goal to me

Re:Not what you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988304)

Not really, a human brain does all those things and more. An AI will generally do a small subset of those things (like play chess with machine vision).

Re:Not what you think (3, Interesting)

ipwndk (1898300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988660)

The field of AI is no longer focused on creating humans brains as far as I've learned from my studies. They did dream big back then when the field first came to be, but the complexity of the problem became apparent. It's simply, currently, not possible.

There is planning, search and logic AI, which finds the best possible plans for different problems, and is often used in manufacturing. Such as designing computer chips, or for instructions to robots or cranes that builds, sorts or package. AI is capable of approximating solutions to problems that cannot be done through algorithmic means; as such AI often deal with problems in NP.

Another field is game AI, which I know most about. There's a plethora of sub-fields here. The traditional game AI dealt with solving games, and has influenced many games such as chess. (AI hasn't solved chess, but found many end games that humans did not know, and found solutions to end games that humans have theorized about for over a hundred years) Modern game AI concerns itself with AI for video games. The goals are many. Fun and challenging opponents. Autonomous opponents that learn during play and gain new knowledge. Procedural content generation in respect to the player and much more. Not that much has been done in the industry, but in the field there's a lot of focus on machine learning techniques that learn the games themselves based on some criteria set by the creators.

I haven't read anything about AI that attempts to be human-like in the sense they pursued earlier lately. I've read several times however, that the Turing test is faulty and should be ignored; it serves no purpose in the field. The new purpose is to create machines that can do some task, and do it well. If its deemed intelligent by humans is of no consequence. If it does a job better than a human, then it is an advance. That it is worse than optimal is a strength, because as I said, the problems often dealt with are not solvable optimally. (At least not until quantum computing, albeit I know nothing about how that works; it seems to be another new dream, so if its like the dream of AI in the beginning, it will probably not solve all, but just make advances)

Re:Possible - Absolutely (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988856)

I strongly believe it is possible - it just takes actual funding!

I have cynically remarked that it is a "racial fear" which prevents us from really funding the research it would take to really hit the singularity. That, and our current greed and lust for power playing wargames.

We could have had it by 2012. Taking the famous marker of 9-11, instead of the disastrous failed decade, if we had poured that Trillion into a broad research pyramid, we'd be there. 75 teams of 25 people working for 10 years - yep. Piece of cake. But no, we had more fun invading the wrong countries and groping fliers.

Re:Not what you think (2)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988974)

" Modern game AI concerns itself with AI for video games. "
No. Not AT ALL. Yes, game AI is a small part of it, but modern artificial intelligence has left game AI waaaay behind in the dust. Game AI is mostly about specialized logic to the rules of the game (pathing, observing enemy moves, etc.), maintaining a priority queue of actions, and making the right responses when the right action is chosen. Out of the 4 artificial intelligence courses I took at college, one of which was graduate-level, we spoke about video game AI for a whole... never. No, we worked on gradient ascent algorithms, simulated annealing, hidden markov models, supervised machine learning, perceptrons, neural nets, but not so much game AI. Chess AI tends to be mostly just calculate all the possible board positions resulting from a given choice, and then the results of choices from those positions, and on and on. Its mostly a brute force problem, our hardware these days can just crunch the numbers. Go is much more challenging for real AI, and thats why we stink at making computers that can play it. If you're talking about videogame AI, thats really pretty simple and isn't AI as we refer to it in computer science. They're still pretty much the same as the FPS bots from Quake 3 or the RTS bots from starcraft. Not a ton of advancement has been done.

That said, the Berkeley Overmind starcraft AI team was pretty impressive, but just to show you how seperate game AI is from real AI, the Berkley team found developing a true starcraft playing AI to be beyond infeasible. So they dedicated themselves (months of development, mind you) to just building an AI that could rush zerg to mutalisks, and then mass mutalisks. Mutalisks are better at responding to tons of microinstructions, they can fly and they have ranged attacks, so a computer can better take advantage of them than say, a melee unit. But you see, the official Berkeley AI team couldn't even begin to handle worrying about build order, different strategies, the game is already insanely complicated. They had a hard enough time just scouting for enemy expansions and so on. And yet, Blizzard included a game AI that can play all factions and uses different unit types. Is it because Blizzard has a FAR better AI development team than the Berkeley research department? No. Its because the Starcraft 2 AI isn't really AI at all, its very specialized case logic. It doesn't learn, it doesn't adapt.

Oh, and it cheats, too. When you turn up the difficulty, they couldn't actually make the AI much better, so they just make it so that insane level computers get more resources than you do. That way its artificially stronger, but not any smarter.

Re:Not what you think (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 2 years ago | (#36990070)

If it does a job better than a human, then it is an advance.

I think that's what scares a lot of people.

eBook not understood! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988082)

Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, e-book, 3/E
Stuart Russell
Peter Norvig, Google Inc.

ISBN-10: 0132126842
ISBN-13: 9780132126847
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Copyright: 2010
Format: Electronic Book
Published: 12/29/2009
Status: Out of Print

I don't think that e-book means what they think it does :)

Re:Ahh AI (2)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988094)

If you think machine learning is a dream, you're living under a rock. Neural net models of a synapse based brain may not be as advanced as our brains, but they're certainly capable of some pretty powerful things. And that form of simulated AI is only one genre of artificial intelligence, there's still hill climbing / gradient ascent and simulated annealing which use monte carlo to initialize to random variables, slowly iterate changes, observe those changes, and then make decisions based on the results. Its a very developed field with many, many applications.

AI doesn't just mean chatbots that fail to pass a turing test. AI also applies to basic logic determination, even things like A* search are a form of artificial intelligence. Its a major domain of computer science, don't blow it off just because of the name.

Re:Ahh AI (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988116)

Just like personal robots, flying cars, and apartments on the moon, a worth while dream.

Or the robots assembling and inspecting parts on a production line, or autonomous vehicles navigating from point A to point B on land or in the air, or software that screens medical imagery to hilight anomalies for doctors, ..., character recognition, voice recognition, facial recognition, ... All of these are applications of AI. Pardon the emphasis on computer vision related examples, computer vision was my research area in grad school.

Re:Ahh AI (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989028)

I work in the power grid automation field and AI is even used there to solve things like distribution of power across the grid (transmission network applications) and I have heard of it being used in or proposed to be used in vehicles to control the timing and fuel injection systems as more sensors and and data is gathered. Additionally this usually comes up when discussing switching to electronically operated valves as well. This would allow the engine to operate better across a broader range of speed, temperature, pressure and humidity.

Sounds... awesome... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36987830)

What is this? Open Learning?

COMMUNISTS I SAY.

Re:Sounds... awesome... (3, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988000)

http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm [mit.edu]
http://www.wikipedia.org/ [wikipedia.org]
http://www.khanacademy.org/ [khanacademy.org]
http://www.ted.com/ [ted.com]

Standford isn't first to this game, but I still applaud them.

Re:Sounds... awesome... (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989620)

they are the first that does it just like the normal course - with graded work - and completion - for free. all the others you list are just references and the material.

Re:Sounds... awesome... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 2 years ago | (#36990318)

For me, the graded work and scheduling is the key. It's the first free online course that includes a strategy to prevent procrastination!

Credit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36987874)

Is it for USA only, and Is there any way to get credit for this from your home country?

Re:Credit? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36987922)

Are you just stupid or are you mentally retarded?

Re:Credit? (1)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987938)

Presumably since it's online, anyone can take it. The article says only Stanford students will get credit, but if you can convince your own university to give you credit for it ... do it!

Re:Credit? (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987988)

It doesn't look like it's a credit course for anyone who isn't a registered Stanford student. They give you a certificate of completion (Which, when combined with $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee), but not actual course credit. On the other hand, this is a course taught by two of the top researchers in the field. It's probably worth it just to learn something. I'm seriously considering this. I don't know a lot about coding AI, beyond some really high level theory; and while I'm sure that a ten week course with 10,000 of my closest friends won't make me an expert... It could be fun.

Re:Credit? (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988584)

Don't expect to be doing a lot of coding AI in an intro course. If they're anything like my AI classes, they are 9 parts conceptual, 1 part pseudo-code. Maybe you'll get to write a bit of Lisp in the meantime (AI people think Lisp is the language of the gods, and trying to change that is like prying CoBOL from bankers or FORTRAN from Mech-E people).

Re:Credit? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989662)

i already stuck the syllabus on my calendar - i don't take classes for "credit" i take them to actually learn something interesting and/or useful to me. this is a great opportunity, that may not present it's self again.

AI Thesis! (4, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987896)

Proposed:

A software program which can successfully pass this course.

Related: Turing Test

Re:AI Thesis! (2)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987930)

an AI avatar to do just what you said is a pre-req for the advanced course. makes for a quiet classroom.

Re:AI Thesis! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988450)

I think you'll get full credit for a software program that can successfully grade the assignments for this course. They might even offer you a job.

TFA is wrong (3, Informative)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987916)

The actual website for the course says "The class runs from Sept 26 through Dec 16, 2011." http://www.ai-class.com/ [ai-class.com]

Re:TFA is wrong (4, Informative)

daenris (892027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988072)

Actually no, the article is right. The online portion starts on October 2nd. If you look at the course website [robot.cc], under Course Description it makes this clear.

Re:TFA is wrong (1)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988208)

That also says that the course starts Sept. 27. So EVERYONE is wrong :P

Re:TFA is wrong (1)

daenris (892027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988286)

I suspect maybe Stanford's term starts the 26th and runs through December 16th? Because the course website also lists the last day of the course as December 8th, not the 16th, though it doesn't mention when the final is, but for the online portion the final is due December 18th. So yeah, seems like they can't agree with themselves on dates.

Only 15 good questions per 10000 students (3, Interesting)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987956)

I dont buy that. There were times in grad school when a class of 20 students generated enough questions on a topic that threw the instructors schedule out of whack. I know this is not grad school but I am assuming there are enough good students in Stanford itself and most people who will sign up voluntarily will be the ones who are interested about it. I still love the idea though. Although, it makes me wonder how the students feel about it. Stanford is pretty expensive. They have paid all that money only for coming to class now, given that the exact same class material and the instructors as well are available to anyone for free ?

Re:Only 15 good questions per 10000 students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36987994)

I don't think there are only 15 good questions out of 10000 questions... think of it being 15 unique questions out of 10000 questions.

Re:Only 15 good questions per 10000 students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988030)

I dont buy that. There were times in grad school when a class of 20 students generated enough questions on a topic that threw the instructors schedule out of whack. I know this is not grad school but I am assuming there are enough good students in Stanford itself and most people who will sign up voluntarily will be the ones who are interested about it.

I still love the idea though. Although, it makes me wonder how the students feel about it. Stanford is pretty expensive. They have paid all that money only for coming to class now, given that the exact same class material and the instructors as well are available to anyone for free ?

Knowledge is free. Credits cost money.

Re:Only 15 good questions per 10000 students (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988288)

Knowledge is free. Credits cost money.

Knowledge costs time.

Re:Only 15 good questions per 10000 students (1)

LearnToSpell (694184) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988938)

And time is money! Therefore, uhh... I don't know. Haven't taken the course yet. That's as far as I got. :(

Re:Only 15 good questions per 10000 students (4, Insightful)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988198)

You're paying for the service, not just the knowledge. Having the professor / TA available for answering your questions, having other students around to study with, ask questions of, work on projects with, etc. College is about the environment. Stanford and other big name schools have begun putting their lectures on youtube available for free to anyone; not even requiring an account or that you sign up for a course. Did this send people to leave the college in droves and just watch the youtube videos? No. Because you still get the certification of a degree, which youtube doesn't give you (although that BS is meaning less and less these years). Some people don't need a teacher, they buy the books and don't go to college and teach themselves. And those people are already doing that. This helps spread some general knowledge, mostly intro 101 courses, but its not going to make you an established expert on a subject overnight. I don't think students will be upset at all.

Re:Only 15 good questions per 10000 students (1)

ipwndk (1898300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988816)

It is also a great service in terms of knowledge sharing. I watched a lot of youtube videos from Stanford and others, while studying CS and AI. It's great for helping with reading up, as I can't remember everything that happened at my own lectures. Also some professors explain some things better than others; if confused about something in your lecture, look it up from other sources, and clear it up. In that sense I think it benefits CS study in general. If someone outside of college can learn it in this form, I do not know. Personally I doubt it. The ability to ask questions and to meet with other students and TA's, helps clear up a lot of the confusion that might arise. And I did confused a lot of times, until someone had a golden nugget to share that put in the missing piece. It's the same with reading a book; reading it doesn't mean understanding it. Sometimes you need outside help.

As long as the service doesn't suffer. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989312)

I know that when I have been in large classes, the added value of taking the class compared to just learning from a book was much lower than with small class sizes. Stanford students may feel cheated if they think that the online portion of this class takes time and attention away from the Stanford class and students.

Re:Only 15 good questions per 10000 students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36989854)

Although, it makes me wonder how the students feel about it. Stanford is pretty expensive. They have paid all that money only for coming to class now, given that the exact same class material and the instructors as well are available to anyone for free ?

I doubt the students will care at all as long the teaching is still effective; they are paying for college credit towards a Stanford degree. The online students taking the course for free will get neither one of those things.

Using AI to teach the course... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36987976)

about AI is a little too recursive for me...

"When asked how they would deal with ten thousand students, Professor Thrun replied, 'We'll let Skynet handle the sorting and choose the best questions'"

Re:Using AI to teach the course... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#36990008)

"When asked how they would deal with ten thousand students, Professor Thrun replied, 'We'll let Skynet handle the sorting and choose the best questions'"

So if you ask a mundane, typical question you get no answer?

It was obvious that an AI course being offered for free would be taught by AI programs. This is the perfect testing grounds for the latest generation of AI programs. Much more difficult than "what is AI, Alex?" or "who was that strange woman in your bedroom, Alex?"

this is great! (2)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987992)

Now I don't have to live in Massachusetts to learn me about some artificial intelligence!

Re:this is great! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988192)

Being that Stanford in is California and not in Massachusetts, I'd say you are the winner since Artificial Intelligence will never be a match for Genuine Stupidity.

Re:this is great! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988438)

What's your deal?
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2359264&cid=36951064

Level of education (1)

CurryCamel (2265886) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988002)

Interesting. Now is a good chance to find out for one-self if the famous USA universities really are as elite as their reputation. And I will learn basics of AI at the side!

I already learned (thanks Wikipedia!) that Stanford is not part of the ivy league, though :)

Re:Level of education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988060)

Ivy League is about the "gentleman C" and learning how to throw the prep look.

24/7 access to fellow smart people (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988216)

The university is more than just a course lecture, its an environment. If I didnt know something I just asked across the coffee table or a door down the hall.

Re:24/7 access to fellow smart people (1)

CurryCamel (2265886) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988610)

IMHO, the level of a university closely correlates with the level of education. Every university has a coffee room or two where to ask (and smart people who drink coffee in said rooms). That is true even for the company I work for! But I have no way of feeling up the atmosphere in Stanford, so I must extrapolate from my experiences at the local university, by comparing the level and atmosphere in this course.

Anyways, the true value of a university is measured by the level of knowledge/wisdom/insight that the people, who leave it upon graduation, have.

iTunes U offers many classes ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988238)

Interesting. Now is a good chance to find out for one-self if the famous USA universities really are as elite as their reputation. And I will learn basics of AI at the side! I already learned (thanks Wikipedia!) that Stanford is not part of the ivy league, though :)

Actually you've been able to do this for a while. Check out iTunes U, http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/what-is.html [apple.com].

FWIW, Ivy League is a marketing gimmick. :-)

Re:iTunes U offers many classes ... (2)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988402)

Or don't check it out with iTunes. http://academicearth.org/ [academicearth.org]

I've got to give it to Standford and MIT (and all of the other schools who have contributed to open courseware). They have done a service to everyone.

Re:Level of education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988386)

The big difference between the elite schools and the normal schools is not what they teach.
But How they teach it and with what equipment they do this.
I work at one of the best scoring universities in my country according to some agency that researches this (top 100).
 
And there is a BIG difference, I've taken some courses over here and when i see the lectures of MIT, Berkely or Standford.
I feel very strange it's the exact same thing the universities over here teach us, they even simplify everything a lot, you could even say they treat their students like babies.
But ... in those lectures it's clear to me the people who teach love their field and love teaching which isn't the case in most universities.
And that's how you teach, you need to make your students comfortable and engaged and that will only happen
if you love your field
 
The last and almost the only teacher I had who was like that was in highschool.
And the stuff he teached is the only stuff i still remember today.

Re:Level of education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988462)

Stanford student here.

I don't think you'll be able to make much of a judgement. For one thing, it's just a single sample. Furthermore, for most courses you'll be able to find good teachers at various schools. The big named institutions don't have a significant advantage here. Norvig and Thrun may have special stature in their fields, but that has little to do with good teaching, and is unlikely to have much bearing in more introductory courses.

In my experience, I've found that professors are hit or miss with respect to teaching, and it often has little correlation with their institution or their success on the research side of things. However, I've also found that CS departments are especially good, perhaps due to higher student enrolment, at finding and funding lecturers and teaching faculty. These people can be, and often are, absolutely exceptional, far exceeding most research faculty. Fortunately, Stanford places a strong emphasis on hiring the best teachers, as well as researchers, but I guess you won't get a taste of that from this course.

As for grades, I find Stanford to actually be less consistent than other schools. Sadly, course averages depend a lot on the professor. Some don't curve and are happy with a C average, others average closer to B+ or A-. Worse, Stanford doesn't report course averages in transcripts, so if you happened to take a course with one professor who didn't curve, you may end up looking much worse in comparison to your friend who took it with another professor who adjusted to a B average. I don't think there is too much grade inflation in CS, since the school is very selective and the students generally hard-working, but the inconsistency is quite unfair.

Anyway, I'm really glad that they're opening this course up. Stanford records dozens of courses each quarter and could easily release the content, but sadly they haven't done so. Perhaps this will set a new precedent at the school. MIT had the right idea. There's no reason Stanford can't take it further.

Re:Level of education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988514)

It only works if you're adaptable to this format. When I was deciding whether or not to take a CS grad class at Berkeley, I watched some of the videos online first as they had taped previous years' classes. It was interesting material, but I got worn out on watching the videos after only a couple of classes. Joining the class was so much better -- not only because then I actually enjoyed the classes, but because then I met some of the students and had a few good conversations with one of the professors. If I had been more of a shmoozer, I could have easily walked away with a good job just from that one class (I got a summer job offer anyway, solely on the basis of the material I dealt with in my final project).

Credit Transfers? (1)

Ghoser777 (113623) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988020)

Can I earn college credit that will transfer to other institutions? That's what I want to know.

Re:Credit Transfers? (1)

daenris (892027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988088)

No. The online course just offers a certificate from the instructors of the course. It will not count as college credit anywhere.

Re:Credit Transfers? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988278)

That's actually really good value. Just having the certificate is worth something if someone wants to know if you know the subject. I'm kind of surprised they would acknowledge successful completion with anything other than a 'good job!'.

Re:Credit Transfers? (1)

daenris (892027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988326)

I suspect the value of the certificate relies directly on how well-known and respected the instructors are in the field. Personally, I'm considering on going back to school for a Master's in Computer Science, and since I've been out of school for awhile and my undergrad degree is not in CS, I figure it couldn't hurt to have this certificate from Stanford AI instructors to show a more recent academic performance to complement my work experience.

Re:Credit Transfers? (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988252)

I'm almost certain the answer is absolutely not. This is just something you're electing to do, for fun, for education. Its not actually a college course, you're not actually enrolled, and they will not give you any credit or say that you've passed the course or anything of that sort.

Effectively, they're letting you audit the course for free, over the internet. You get to see the work, you can do it along with the students if you'd like, you can see your grades comparison, you can watch all the lectures, but you're not being graded "for real". Normally even auditing a course costs a ton of money, so this is a huge benefit. If you want college credit though, you're gonna have to go fill a seat in a real classroom. That or try phoenix online xD

Re:Credit Transfers? (1)

darkstar949 (697933) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989240)

Well, you aren't going to earn college credit that you can transfer; however, depending upon the school you might gain the information required to test out of a course and maybe get credit through that route. Very dependent upon the school though and the most you can usually get with that is just not having to take the course as a prerequisite.

A way to sell textbooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988220)

Nice way to sell hundreds and thousands of Russell and Norvig textbooks. Snark aside, its all good.

Peter Norvig should be a good teacher (4, Interesting)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988224)

Haven't read his AI book "Artificial Intelligence, A Modern Approach".

But about 20 years ago when I was really into Common Lisp, I read his book "Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp". It was one of the best books I had ever read. Lots of fantastic examples and code.

Makes me think I should get his "modern approach" book. Maybe think about the online course.

Re:Peter Norvig should be a good teacher (2)

ipwndk (1898300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988510)

It's really good actually. It's part of my collection in "classic" AI.

It doesn't deal with neural networks, evolution or monte carlo sadly. But it does deal greatly with the Intelligent Agent (IA) architecture, which is the foundation of any AI, classic or not. And its chapters on search is superb; and you almost always need search. (Obviously DFS, BFS, Dijkstra, A* etc., are part of normal CS curriculum, but it delves into local search which usually is not part of CS curriculum as it is non-optimal and approximate)

It's also the best book on planning and propositional logics in AI I've read. Haven't had a great need for that myself, but those tools are actually very used in the industry to solve real problems. Some PHD students at my university have made a great local search based container stowage using some iterative local search based inference. It does not always produce an optimal solution, but it does most of the time, and its faster by a large magnitude (solved in a matter of minutes), as the problem is otherwise in NP (unsolvable in polynomial time).

After the book it's easy to jump into the research, because it has introduced you to the terminology. It's introduction chapter is also very nice, as it gives the history of AI research and accomplishments. Gives you an idea of where you are in the field when you read new research.

Oh but a warning; there's no code in the book. There's algorithms written in pseudocode. But it's expected that you implement yourself. If you're a good hacker, that's not that hard, but keep in mind the complexity yourself; the books complexity analysis does not include the data structures etc., so any implementation without the correct tools will be very slow. But AI is really something that should be learned after the CS foundations has been mastered. It does however explain in good detail how the algorithms, and how the theory works. Understand that, and you will have little trouble writing your code, and debugging the system. In my opinion that its much more satisfying, than just to copy a code snippet that you hardly understand. This approach forces you to understand, and therefore master it.

Re:Peter Norvig should be a good teacher (1)

ipwndk (1898300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988720)

Oh, the container stowage problem is important economically and environmentally, because it shortens the time a container ship has to stay in harbor. Their research is obviously funded by that industry. Its product is simply a list of instructions to the crane operators, that results in both the fast unloading of containers, but also optimal placement; those two compliment each other.

Added it in with my thoughts of the book, because they based it on some of the theory of the book. Almost same algorithm, but obviously tweaked. Was part of the lecture, and was just nice to see a real example of the theory in the book being research on, and possible being utilized in the future by the industry ;)

Re:Peter Norvig should be a good teacher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988896)

> It doesn't deal with neural networks, evolution or monte carlo sadly

Later editions do have a section on neural networks (Chap 20.5 2nd Edition (International)) and Monte Carlo (Chap 14.5 2nd Edition (International)).

Agree with parent on it being a very good book. It covers a wide range of topics, and I have found it very useful to familiarise myself with the basics of various parts of ML and statistics.

Re:Peter Norvig should be a good teacher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36990410)

Russel/Norvig (aka "Artificial Intelligence, A Modern Approach") is the standard text for introductory AI classes in many colleges (at least it was when I took it in grad school). My guess is the people taking this class will learn a lot if they can keep up!

AI is the way to handle thousands of students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988332)

Why wouldn't the professors write an AI program to teach the course. We don't need professors any more!

Like Music, News and other dinosaurs. (3, Interesting)

Ghiora (1004216) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988350)

It is about time the universities go the way of the book, music, news, encyclopedia and information industries in which the Internet has brought down prices significantly. There is no justification to the huge amounts of money the universities charge for the education they provide and for the learning materials. This course is a live demonstration of how it can be done for pennies. The only thing that should cost more then a few dollars is final testing of a course which can be done for about $50.00 per course. Beyond that if remote testing is used it will be very hard for any one to get a whole degree by cheating on the total amount of courses needed to graduate. A few random tests on key subjects where you have to be present physically are more then enough to put an end to any shenanigans. The only reason it has not happened yet is psychological, people (those who study and those who hire) being conservative by nature want a degree from "a well known establishment". (Yes some courses need labs and cadavers but they are a small minority)

Re:Like Music, News and other dinosaurs. (3, Insightful)

f()rK()_Bomb (612162) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988518)

Only because the american model runs colleges like a business. Over here in europe university is basically free. My fees this year are 1.5k. There is a benefit to universities though, you get to meet and interact with a lot of smart people. Abandoning universities entirely is not the way to go, reforming the broken model is.

Re:Like Music, News and other dinosaurs. (1)

Ghiora (1004216) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988676)

You will meet lots of people from many countries on line when taking on-line courses; if the courses are set up right. I am not for abandoning universities I am for making them adjust. Unfortunately like all normal organizations they are clinging to the money they made the old way..

Re:Like Music, News and other dinosaurs. (1)

mosseh (1014255) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989368)

Only because the american model runs colleges like a business. Over here in europe university is basically free. My fees this year are 1.5k. There is a benefit to universities though, you get to meet and interact with a lot of smart people. Abandoning universities entirely is not the way to go, reforming the broken model is.

Clearly you don't live in the UK, where the majority of decent universities will be charging the maximum tuition fee of £9000 per year ($14.7k at the current exchange rate). University is most definitely not free here.

Re:Like Music, News and other dinosaurs. (1)

f()rK()_Bomb (612162) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989744)

That has only changed this year though right? It used to be more like 3k before the whole economic crisis. Even at that higher price its half the average price in america and id say the total amount over 4 years might be less than one year in the high level american universities.

Re:Like Music, News and other dinosaurs. (1)

mosseh (1014255) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989848)

Yeah I'm currently paying about £3.3k which is the cap. Anyone starting next year gets completely shafted with an almost three-fold increase. In my opinion this government are idiots for not investing in education which is the future of the country. Guess I should be glad I don't live in America anyway!

Re:Like Music, News and other dinosaurs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36990324)

Free to the student you mean....

Raises questions about university costs (3, Interesting)

AtlantaSteve (965777) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988572)

If the content of this class is exactly the same as the "real" version, and at the end you are evaluated on the grading curve right alongside "real" students... then you have to question why the cost of "really" being a Stanford student is $55,385 per year [stanford.edu], while the cost of receiving the same product without the formal diploma is $0.

How much of the expense of modern university education today is actually tied to the core product, and how much is simple sociology? That is, only a certain percentage of society can be in the "elite" ranks by definition... and so elite institutions must price themselves accordingly to maintain the appropriate exclusion.

Re:Raises questions about university costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36989216)

As a university professor myself (not at Stanford), I'd just like to point out that I don't need to eat, and neither does any other professor. So it is completely correct to believe that $0 is the true cost of a university education.

Or maybe there's some other explanation? Like the professors are giving away the education as free advertising for themselves and the large corporations that employ them?

Re:Raises questions about university costs (1)

AtlantaSteve (965777) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989592)

I'm sorry about your bitterness with your career, but your sarcasm misses the point. I do not presume that $55,385 per student per year makes its way into a professor's pocket. Probably only a minuscule fraction of it does (although the amount is no doubt higher for publishing professors at the elite level than it is for those who "merely" teach at the common level). If you're looking for additional cynicism, though... I'm sure the professor is partially motivated by book sales. He wrote the textbook, it costs $100+ a pop, and it will now sell thousands of additional copies since it's required for this class.

Anyway, putting aside the expense of the textbook (which many will pirate anyway)... the cost of the class for the online student is indeed zero dollars. And zero cents. Please don't interpret that as ignorance about the broader economics, or as a self-manufactured slight to your esteem.

Re:Raises questions about university costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36989982)

I love my career! Being a professor is awesome. But concerning the economics of education, my (large state) university's annual budget is around $1B, which is almost entirely from tuition (and per-student government subsidies, which would be part of the tuition bill if we were private). Professor pay is around 30-40% of the budget. If Stanford is similar, then about $15-20k of the $50k tuition finds its way into some professor's pocket.

They're probably not doing it to sell textbooks. Depending on the contract and the number of authors, they may make $1-2 per copy. Basically, that's beer money, even for a large online class.

Really, the tuition-paying students are subsidizing the costs of the online students. If there were no tuition-paying students, there would either be no course to offer for free, or the course would cost money. Even non-profit online universities (e.g., Athabasca, WGU) charge significant tuition. So again, why are the profs doing this? Probably for the publicity. I record my lectures and throw them up on YouTube for the same reason.

Re:Raises questions about university costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36989310)

The course isn't worth $0; the university is just covering the cost, since they have to support the professors. This is good advertising for their university, and a chance to showcase the quality of their faculty.

Online enrollment is open? Really? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988830)

TFS says that the online enrollment is open. I couldn't find any way to enroll, only a page [ai-class.com] where you can enter your name and email to "sign up [...] to receive more information about the online version when it becomes available". Am I missing something? Does anyone have a link to where you can truly enroll for the free version of the course?

Re:Online enrollment is open? Really? (1)

daenris (892027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988984)

No, I think the summary/article is referring to exactly that name/email entry form. The page you linked says that "Official registration will open later this summer. Your information will be kept private and only used to contact you once registration is available. "

Artificial Intelligence Course in college... (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988916)

I took an A.I. course in college my senior year and one of the very first assignments we were tackled with was the classical N-Queens problem and different variants of the problem was introduced. Since then I have been intrigued by A.I., specifically in terms of games like starcraft so this will be very helpful.

One thing that i havent looked at closely was that it was noted on one of the links that there were some prerequisites that the students had to meet before taking this course. I'm not sure what those are exactly but i will take a look.

Re:Artificial Intelligence Course in college... (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989506)

i found the quote: "PrerequisitesA solid understanding of probability and linear algebra will be required."

Well, it'll sell textbooks for sure... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988932)

The text for this book is over $100... I know textbooks are expensive, but for a course that will not lead to college credit? Isn't that a BIT excessive...?

Re:Well, it'll sell textbooks for sure... (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989106)

i wonder if the book is absolutely necessary? he said in the video that will go through some chunks of the book but not all of it. how much of a disadvantage would it be to not have it?

Re:Well, it'll sell textbooks for sure... (1)

darkstar949 (697933) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989678)

Depends upon how the questions are formatted, if they are asking you to solve questions 1 - 5 on page 100 then you might have some problems but if they spell out exactly what they want then the textbook really shouldn't be required beyond having the relevant information package neatly in front of you.

Re:Well, it'll sell textbooks for sure... (1)

Viewsonic (584922) | more than 2 years ago | (#36990200)

Probably dependent on how well you want to pass the course. I am guessing the book itself isn't useless, and that having it would greatly enhance your understanding of the subject. If you're the Chris Knight type of person, you probably don't need the book to pass anything. You just "get" it. Some people are like this, sadly most are not.

Grading homework (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36989148)

I wonder who will grade the 10.000+ weekly homeworks...

These guys are the bomb (1)

CAPSLOCK2000 (27149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36989398)

If you have any interest in A.I. you should check this out. These two guys are legendary in the A.I. world and they are not even dead! Among AI-studens Norvigs book is referred to as 'the bible'. Thrun did more make self-driving cars a reality than anybody else because he is not just very smart but also very charismatic.

AI course - so excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36989580)

just signed up - so excited! never done a real online course that matters before, should brush the ol' cobwebs out of my brain!

Fantastic!! :-)

Using my non artificial intelligence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36989888)

I've deduced that this is a ploy to sell copies of the "recommended" book. Which just so happens to be written by one of the professors.

Great scam would buy again A+++++++++++++

Credits? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 2 years ago | (#36990230)

Can you really earn college credits by taking course on Al Gore?

Sounds like a politically oriented school.

Conflict of Interest (1)

GeordieMac (1010817) | more than 2 years ago | (#36990236)

This is a shameless plug for their own book. (required course material) Is this legal? At any rate, if this is the ethical standard exhibited by their professors, then how can I how can I in good faith hire their students?

The power of a reputation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36990292)

If this course is anywhere as good as Thrun's book "Probabilistic Robotics"... I'm in.

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