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Every once in a while you come across somebody who seems to embody the qualities of independence, ambition, and brain power that we associate with the best and brightest, past and present. Qualities, I might add, that we’ll need in abundance as we aim to accelerate U.S. economic growth. Recently, I became acquainted with Sebastian Thrun via the Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Interview. Thrun is brainiac-in-chief at Google’s futuristic skunk works and has a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Bonn. He emigrated from Germany in search of “the lack of authority, unlike Germany,” to pursue his specialty in artificial intelligence. One of his projects at Google is the self-driving car that so far has logged hundreds of thousands of miles without a human at the controls. Technology has already revamped the music, cable TV, and book publishing industries. Maybe someday this driverless car will put the auto industry on the defensive. But Thrun shrugs off the “creative destruction” that technology often leaves in its wake. He doesn’t care about preserving existing institutions — or even his own achievements. His mission is to develop technology that benefits masses of people (such as motorists). Another of Thrun’s passions is online education. While its image is somewhat tarnished today, he nevertheless sees it both as a way to reach people who might otherwise never come in contact with higher education and as a way to improve the overall level of education. He and a colleague conducted a combined classroom-online course in artificial intelligence at Stanford University. More than 150,000 people worldwide signed up, and 23,000 completed the course. The top 410 exam grades were earned by online students. Thrun has formed a company called Udacity to attack the problem of how to deliver the optimal online education. “What I see is democratizing education will change everything,” he says. If he is right, he will be another immigrant who revolutionized the way we do things.
2012 Economic Growth Fellow
John Prestbo is retired as editor and executive director of Dow Jones Indexes. Previously he was markets editor at The Wall Street Journal. He has co-authored or edited several books over the past 30 years. The most recent is “The Market’s Measure: An Illustrated History of America Told Through the Dow Jones Industrial Average,” published in 1999 by Dow Jones Indexes. His column, Indexed Investor, appears on the highly regarded “MarketWatch” business and finance website. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University.Full Bio
El Paso del Norte, A Cross-Border Community
Reporting on their recent trip to El Paso, Matthew Rooney, managing director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative, and William McKenzie, editorial director of the Bush Institute, explain why El Paso del Norte points to both the challenges and potential benefits of the close relationship between the United States and Mexico.
Deporting Salvadorans May Lead to Economic Decline
We should think carefully about a policy whose major impacts are likely to be reductions in employment and economic activity here at home, and increased instability and lawlessness along our borders.
Bush Institute's Laura Collins Talks Immigration on Good Morning Texas
Last week, Deputy Director of Economic Growth at the George. W. Bush Institute Laura Collins spoke with Good Morning Texas about immigration myths. During the interview, Collins had the opportunity to set the record straight and address common misconceptions about legal immigrants living in America today. The segment was inspired from facts released earlier this fall by the Bush Institute in the third edition of America's Advantage: A Handbook on Immigration and Economic Growth. Watch the full Good Morning Texas interview here.