The next time your child groans and asks why he has to go to school, or tells you she is absolutely certain that she’ll never use math, steal a little wit and wisdom from Salman Khan. The Silicon Valley innovator, whose online educational videos have grown to nearly 200 million lessons, kept an auditorium full of high school students rapt earlier this week as he urged them to consider a future in computer science.
“I think there’s a misperception about it being a very, I don’t know, kind of dorky field, for lack of a better word,” said Khan to laughter. It helped the joke that he was sitting next to Andrew Ng, the Stanford computer scientist who runs the University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and developed the platform for Coursera, the program that allows millions of people to enroll in online courses offered by the nation’s top universities. “Thanks, Sal,” broke in Ng good-naturedly.
But when Khan delivered the real punch line, the students were speechless and dorkless. “You go to Google, Facebook, any of these companies right now; they’re offering six-figure salaries to 21-year-olds, and they cannot find enough people.”