Sebastian Thrun: The world is becoming flatter

Wednesday, 26 October, 2016

Sebastian Thrun is the Founder-President of Udacity and the brains behind a lot of California’s brightest ideas. He is also a senior advisor at the Credit Suisse Lab in Silicon Valley, which is why, perhaps, Daniel Ammann and Simon Brunner of Credit Suisse spoke to him for the bank’s “Entrepreneurs” content offering.

Technology gives us super-human powers” is the headline of the Ammann-Brunner interview and Thrun is as optimistic as the title. Snippet:

When we think about digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence for instance, are we also thinking about the nature of human beings then?

Exactly. With each new technology, we reexamine the human condition, humanity’s existence and our understanding of ourselves as human beings. It always revolves around the same thing: giving human beings super-human powers. We could not have talked to each other 150 years ago because our voices alone were not loud enough to be heard from the US to Switzerland. We could not swim across the Atlantic either; we’re simply not built to do it. Today, however, we talk over the Internet — or fly from Los Angeles to Zurich in 12 hours.

Daniel Ammann and Simon Brunner put it to Thrun at the end of their conversation that he must have enjoyed reading the science fiction of H. G. Wells, Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, but he replies: “I preferred Heinrich Böll or Max Frisch. I’ve always been more interested in people than technologies. Technology is just a tool. In the long run, what concerns me in everything I do is people.”

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