When are self-driving cars available in Asia? We should re-consider regulations about it.


Last year I learned “machine learning” on coursera and found that it is very useful to develop self-driving car.  This course was created in 2011.  Since then,  there has been much progress in self-driving cars. Last week I found two articles on self-driving cars. One is self-driving cars by google and the other is an autonomous truck. Let us see what they are and consider the impacts of these cars when they are available to us.


1. Self-driving cars

This is one the most aggressive project of self-driving cars because the goal of the project is cars without driver intervention. According to Google website, it says”a few of the prototype vehicles we’ve created will leave the test track and hit the familiar roads of Mountain View, Calif., with our safety divers aboard.”.  It looks so small and cute. However, with computers and sensors, it can run without intervention by humans. I imagine machine learning is used to control self-driving cars as I learned it on coursera before. Because the machine can “learn” new things from data, the more self-driving cars run, the safer and more sophisticated they become. Therefore collecting many data on self-driving cars is critically important.  I wonder when they can drive without drivers in future.


2. Autonomous truck

The other is autonomous trucks.  According to Bloomberg, “Regulatory and technological obstacles may hold back the driverless car for decades. But one of the first driverless semi-trucks is already driving, legally, on the highways of Nevada.” This is a truck which can be controlled on highways. But in difficult tasks such as driving in parking lots, human should take over and drive them. It looks like “a truck, which is supported by computers”.  Unlike self-driving cars by google, this truck needs human drivers. But it must be helpful for truck drivers when they drive on highways for long time.


3. What is needed to promote self-driving cars?

Firstly, we need to consider regulations about how self-driving cars are allowed to run in public. Because the more data is available, the more sophisticated self-driving cars become. In order to accelerate development of self-driving cars,  data is like “fuel” to develop computers in order to control cars. Therefore regulations are very important to allow self-driving cars to run in the real world  in order to collect data.


4. What are the impacts to our society?

In aging societies such as Japan,  older people sometimes feel difficulties to drive a car to go to hospitals or shopping malls. In such a case, the self-driving car is one of the solutions for the problem.  With self-driving cars, senior personnel can go anywhere they want without driving.  In the emerging countries like Asean,  a lot of trucks are needed to prepare the infrastructures and lifelines all over the countries. So it is very useful when self-driving trucks are permitted to run across country borders.  Therefore, regulations should be considered as a region rather than country by country.

In the long run, we should prepare the shift from current situations to a digital economy. It means that some of jobs might be replaced by computers with machine learning.  The more self-driving cars are available, the less truck drivers and taxi drivers are needed. Andrew Ng, the famous researcher of machine learning,  talked about this shift on the article.  “A midrange challenge might be truck-driving. Truck drivers do very similar things day after day, so computers are trying to do that too.”



No one knows exactly when self-driving cars are available in public. It does not look long-term future as I look at the development of technologies.  We may have a lesson of self-driving cars.   Andrew Ng says in the article, “Computers enhanced by machine learning are eliminating jobs long done by humans. The trend is only accelerating.”

What do you think?

Is this a game changer of MBA in a digital economy, isn’t it?


Hi friends, I am Toshi. Today I update my weekly letter. This week’s topic is about online MBA.  If you have a plan to obtain an MBA, I hope it is good information to you.

I love MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Because I can choose any topics from computer programming to languages.  In addition, I can learn anytime and anywhere I want. Finally, Most of courses are free. You do not need to pay any cost to take these courses. So as CEO of start-up, this is the best choice to learn new things I need. However, it might not be applicable to persons who want MBA titles. Because most of the certificates on MOOCs are not regarded as formal academic credit, although MOOCs are provided by many famous universities. For example, I took “Machine learning” by associate professor Andrew.Ng in Stanford university last year and got the statement of accomplishment of that course.  I think this is one of the best courses to learn state of the art algorithm of Machine learning. But unfortunately  Stanford university does not provide academic credits to learners of this course.


But when I found this article of new online MBA course from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I thought it can be a game changer. Because, firstly this is a full MBA course with credits.   Second, the cost of the MBA is around 20,000 USD and significantly lower than similar online courses.  Third, we have opportunities to take courses without certain projects in the MBA program before paying fees.  Third one is significantly important to lower the entry barrier, especially for the beginners of MOOCs.  “Digital marketing“, one of the parts of the MBA program, is already open for everyone.  So we can try this and confirm how this online MBA works before applying the admission processes. Therefore, there are few risk where we have mismatches between the contents of the program and the needs of students.


I think one of the reasons why this new online MBA is developed may be that a lot of students cannot repay student loans in the United states.  Some financial experts warn that these bad loans might be the biggest risk in the credit market. So high cost of higher educations are not only students’ problems, but also society’s problems.  This is not sustainable anymore. This new online MBA can be one of the solutions to this problem. Since major MOOCs platforms such as edx and Coursera  opened in 2012,  MOOCs certificate has not been considered as equivalent to academic credits.  However, this new online MBA may change this situation.  I would like to see what other top MBA schools do, going forward.


If you are beginners of MOOCs,  how about start “Digital marketing”?  You can do it without any fee. If you like it and want to be an MBA holder,  this new-online course can be one of the candidates of MBA for you to consider in addition to residential MBA.  I have already started “Digital marketing” by myself in order to enhance my expertise.  Could you join us?

Three self-paced online courses that I strongly recommend. They are awesome and free!


If you are businessmen/women, your schedule sometimes cannot be controlled by yourself.  Meeting with clients may be required by your client with short notice.  The emergency situation may happen and you should cope with it.  That is why it is difficult for business men/women to complete on-line training/courses with limited time.

However, there is no need to worried about that.  As the number of online courses is increasing,  the number of self paced courses is also increasing.  In Coursera, one of the biggest platforms of online courses, has 70 on-demand courses. Unlike session courses, self paced courses have no deadline to complete. It is very good for busy business men/women because schedules can be more flexible to complete.

Now I enroll several self-paced courses that I am interested in but have no concrete schedule to complete them so far. Instead, when I have spare time, such as time to wait my flight in the airport or suddenly cancelled meetings,  I can enjoy these courses any time I want. I think it is good!  Here is the list of self-paced online courses I recommend.


1.  Machine Learning

This is the best course for people who want to understand what is going on in the digital economy deeply.  Andrew Ng. Associate Professor, Stanford University; Chief Scientist, Baidu; Chairman and Cofounder, Coursera, provides us the course about Machine learning. It is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed.  This state of art technologies is explained in plain English so that people with knowledge of high school math can understand what machine learning is and how it is used in the real world.  I always recommend this course. But the problem was that we had to complete the course within three months.  It is considered too short for most of business men/women.  Now this course is available as self -paced course!  Then we can learn the course at your own pace!


2. Managing Fashion and Luxury Companies

This course is about fashion trends and industries.  It says “This module is dedicated to a general introduction to fashion and luxury concepts, what they mean, how they are perceived, how they differ, and other basic information on this peculiar industry.”  This kind of courses are very few in on-line courses so I recommend this course.  I expect we can obtain new insights about fashion industries.


3. Chinese for Beginners

One of the candidates of self-paced courses to take is the one about languages because it can be repeated many times by ourselves. I currently choose the course about Chinese.  Xianoyu Liu, Associate Professor School of Chinese as A Second Language, Peking University provides the course for beginners of Chinese.


Yes, you can go to a coffee shop from now, where wifi connections are available. Then open your mobile and access to Coursera website and sign up.  You can enjoy the courses you choose anytime you want!

Three reasons why I recommend the MOOCs of Machine Learing in Coursera


There is no doubt that machine learning is a hot topic in 2014.  It is difficult, however, to answer what machine learning is.  I think the best way to understand machine learning is taking MOOCs by Andrew Ng in Stanford university at Coursera.  Actually, I am taking this course now and I am able to understand how to program complex mechanism in machine learning. This is amazing as it is free and available to everyone.  I would like to present three reasons why I recommend this course to everyone.


1.  Several models are explained and compared each other in the course

In this course, we can learn regression models, support vector machines, neural networks, unsupervised learning algorithms.  In addition, we can compare them each other.  So it is good to obtain an overview of machine learning.  Of course we can implement algorithm of each method by using MATLAB/Octave. You can be an expert of machine learning after completion of this course.


2.  The math theories behind the algorithms are also explained in it.

When each algorithm is introduced,  math theory behind them are also explained.  Even thought it is high level,  rather than proof of them,  it is useful because  it can help us to understand what the theory behind the algorithms is and we do not need to treat machine learning as “black box”.  I do not think math at postgraduate level is needed in this course.  If you are not familiar with math, there is no need to worry as basic linear algebra lecture is available in the course. This linear algebra lecture starts with high school level and covers everything which is needed in the course. I like it very much!


3.  Best practice in the industry is also presented

Dr.Andew Ng, who is the instructor of this course, has been working in the IT industries and currently works for Baidu as their Chief Scientist . So he provides us a lot of best practice in analyzing data by machine learning. It is very important because I assume that most participants in this course are practitioners rather than theorists.  I hope a lot of  startups will be born based on the best practice presented in this course.


These three points above keep a good balance in the course. Therefore, even beginners of machine Learning can understand how it works in theory and practice. I cannot say it is easy to pass the program exercises in this course if you are not familiar with MATLAB/Octave, however, I can say it is worth just looking at the video lectures of this course. Although it takes 10 weeks to complete,  you can learn anytime and anywhere through internet once you register the course. I want to give a strong recommendation to this course  for your career development. It might be also good for high school students who is interested in programming. I would like to appreciate Dr. Andew Ng, who prepares this great course.  This is a treasure for everyone!


Ultimate knowledge source “MOOCs”



Recently I took several courses in MOOCs and enjoyed them.  Do you know “MOOCs”?  MOOCs is massive open online courses.   A lot of famous universities  provide us their courses from computer science to Art & Literature.  Edex, Coursera and Udacity are famous brands in MOOCs.   They started providing courses in 2012 and now millions people take courses through their platforms.  It consists of videos,  documents,  questions and mid/final exam. When you obtain the score over the criteria which depends on courses, you can get the certificate.  I was very surprised when I knew most of the courses are provided as free.  When you want the certification with your identification, it takes reasonable costs.  But courses itself are basically provided as free.  So MOOCs is expected to lower the barrier to enter higher educations in developing countries.

Currently I am taking two courses about credit risk management by TU delft and financial programing and policies by IMF in Edex.  They are very good to brush up my knowledge. Each author of both courses is a professor in one of top universities or international institutions,  contents are updated with the current situation.  Both of them are strongly recommended.


Since last year, I have taken more than 10 courses in MOOCs.  Based on this experience, I can explain what the pros and cons of MOOCs are.


1. Most courses are new and updated periodically.

This is the advantage of digital contents and the internet.  Most courses are updated to react the performance of previous versions of courses. More than 1000 or 10000 people participate and provide their opinions to the courses so it is always improving steadily.

2. We can take courses anytime and anywhere

This is also the advantage of digital contents and the internet.  As long as you have an access to the internet, you can enjoy MOOCs anytime and anywhere  all over the world.  I moved from Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur in the middle of courses this year, but there is no problem to continue it.  This is very good when jobs are becoming mobile and cross border.



1. It is very difficult to keep your motivation to finish the courses.

There is no teacher in the classroom physically when you take MOOCs.  There is no warning for you to skip one of learning sequences or miss the exams. Although there are  a lot of participants, only less than 10 percent of them finish the courses in MOOCs.  It is a problem that we should solve going forward.

2. There are a lot of courses so it may be difficult to choose the best one for each participant.

As a lot of universities have participated in MOOCs recently.  You can see a lot of courses in the certain topic, so it is getting difficult to find courses which fit your learning needs in MOOCs. In nature, we cannot see the whole story of the courses in advance (we cannot check each video in advance), although the course summary is available.  I sometimes refer participants reviews and opinions to the course before I take it.


Anyway, I love MOOCs and continue to learn their courses.   Next week I will start the course about machine learning by the famous professor of Stanford University.  I hope I will enjoy it and learn machine learning a lot!  I would like to report how this machine learning course is going.