From AI to Bioengineering

1/18/12Follow @SebastianThrun

Xconomist Report

First of all, students should be studying what they are passionate about. Clearly, computer science will continue to spread into all aspects of human life. Within computer science, I believe machine learning and AI are perhaps the biggest study opportunity today. Biology and medicine are also undergoing vast changes. Personalized medicine will become a big issue; the understanding of the human genome and cell chemistry will open up entire new opportunities for innovation. So any study in the area of life sciences that connects to those new opportunities will be important. The will be amazing bioengineering opportunities, e.g., by developing materials and systems that connect with human tissue. Nanotechnology will become a major driver of new technologies in the future, with tons of great things to study at the intersection of new materials and human life.

I also believe some of the mundane aspects are ripe for overhaul, such as transportation and manufacturing. Studying robotics, rapid prototyping, autonomy in fields such as Aero-Astro, mechanical engineering, or computer science, should position students today to become the technology leaders of tomorrow. For students studying in humanities, I urge them to connect to the digital revolution that is unfolding right now. I am less excited about studying finance, since too many of us are already too creative in inventing new financial instruments that make society less stable.

Xconomist Report

Sebastian Thrun is Google Fellow and Research Professor of computer science at Stanford University. He is also a co-founder of Know It, which brings free online education to the world. Follow @SebastianThrun

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