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Udacity Talks is all about getting great minds together to discuss the big ideas of the day, in an unscripted format powered by questions from Udacity students. With Sebastian Thrun as our host, we’ve talked Self-Driving Cars with Padmasree Warrior, Virtual Reality with Eric Darnell, AI with Yann LeCun, and more. Now, we’re getting ready for another incredible meeting of the minds, as Sebastian visits Jamie Hyneman, former host of Mythbusters and the owner of M5 Industries, to discuss the past, present, and especially the future of Robotics.

This is a particularly unique episode of Udacity Talks, because we take the show on the road—Sebastian actually visits Jamie on-site at M5 Industries, a place Sebastian refers to as “The Temple of Mythbusting.” If that sounds to you like Sebastian is excited about the episode, you’re right! At one point, he actually says, “It’s going to be the best day of my year!”

Everyone at Udacity has been incredibly excited about this, and having now seen the raw footage, I can tell you that the conversation about “the lead balloon” alone is worth the price of admission! It’s admittedly a metaphor Jamie has used before, but something about watching him stone-facedly compare lead foil to “wet toilet paper” while Sebastian looks on smiling is really delightful.

Wet toilet paper imagery aside, the two do cover some pretty fascinating topics, including “Transitioning Drones,” and a top-secret project that apparently involves converting a Vietnam-era tank to remote control.

When Jamie and Sebastian do get down to talking Robotics—the ostensible topic at hand—it’s actually somewhat surprising to see how closely the two overlap from a philosophical standpoint, given that the two come to the subject from seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum—one from the hardware side, and one from software.

At one point, prompted by a student question, Jamie says he likes to think of robotics “in the way that I would like to see them working with us—as an extension of ourselves.” This sentiment closely mirrors sentiments Sebastian recently expressed in an article in The New Yorker, in which he discusses an implementation of AI that is having a remarkable impact on cancer diagnosis. Sebastian describes transformational technologies as “augmentation” and at one point says:

“The cognitive revolution will allow computers to amplify the capacity of the human mind … Just as machines made human muscles a thousand times stronger, machines will make the human brain a thousand times more powerful.”

We invite you to watch the full episode of Udacity Talks with Jamie Hyneman and host Sebastian Thrun on Wednesday, April 19th, at 4pm PDT. RSVP now!

Are YOU ready for a career in Robotics? Then apply now for our Robotics Nanodegree program!

Enjoy a sneak preview of the episode here:

Join us for a special Udacity Talks with Jamie Hyneman! from Udacity 


Christopher Watkins
Christopher Watkins
Christopher Watkins is Senior Writer and Chief Words Officer at Udacity. He types on a MacBook or iPad by day, and either an Underwood, Remington, or Royal by night. He carries a Moleskine everywhere.