Success StoriesOctober 27, 2020

From Chalkboards to TikTok: Revolutionizing Education with Sebastian Thrun

From Chalkboards to TikTok: Revolutionizing Education with Sebastian Thrun

Inspired Execution: CEO of Kitty Hawk and Founder & Executive Chairman of Udacity Sebastian Thrun discusses the transformative role AI and machine learning will play in the future of education, what it’s like to be at the helm of two companies at once, and learning from failure.

DataStax Chairman and CEO Chet Kapoor hosts Sebastian Thrun, Kitty Hawk CEO and Udacity Founder & Executive Chairman in this week’s edition of the Inspired Execution podcast.

Join Chet and Sebastian as they discuss:

  • The three most important skills Sebastian believes are needed to start a venture or thrive in technology
  • Why Sebastian believes making education more accessible around the world is something that ought to be done
  • How it’s okay to make mistakes—but not okay to make the same mistake twice
  • Education is a human right
  • The role AI will play in the future of education and employment
  • How Sebastian thinks that education will change over the next 50 years and shift toward a model of lifelong learning

Sebastian kicks off the podcast by discussing how he is passionate about being a lifelong learner and would rather do a job that forces him to learn new things than one he’s already mastered.

“Being good at something doesn't intrigue me. Learning something new intrigues me.”

As a lifelong learner, Sebastian views mistakes as learning experiences.

“I don't like failing, whether it's fast or slow, and I don't think anybody or I know anybody who loves failing. So I don't think of it as failing, I think of it as learning fast. My mantra is: You can make any mistake, but you can make it only once. You are a fool when you make the same mistake twice.” 

Sebastian believes that education is a human right.

"In Udacity's case, it became clear to me that there is a thirst for education. There is a human right for education. In fact, job skills training, higher education should be a basic human right in every country."

Looking ahead, Sebastian thinks that AI will have a tremendous impact on work, enabling us to stop focusing on mundane tasks and spend more energy on the bigger picture.

“Any repetitive work, even highly paid expert repetitive work from lawyers to doctors, eventually AI will just pick up those skills and do them for us.”

Sebastian concludes that way we approach education will change in the future as more and more of society adopts a lifelong learning approach.

“The human mind, in my opinion, is wired to learn. Sometimes the adults forget this because we are scared of the unknown and we want to be in a safe place.”

Listen to this episode of Inspired Execution to learn more about what excites Sebastian about work, the transformative role AI will play in the future and why kids today need to be familiar with the technology, what it’s like to lead two startups while one is going through massive layoffs, advice for younger folks who haven’t started their careers yet, and more.

The story behind “Inspired Execution”

Interested in learning more about the genesis of the Inspired Execution podcast?

Remember to listen to previous episodes of Inspired Execution with:

Also, check out Episode 0 to hear DataStax Chairman and CEO Chet Kapoor speak to what inspired the series and what listeners can expect from his interviews with CIOs and tech leaders from the world’s top enterprises.

The podcast series is available on, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.


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