Tangier-native Younes Bensouda Mourri continues to study and teach artificial intelligence at Stanford University, one of the US’ top schools.
Rabat – Before even graduating college, 23-year-old Tangier-native Younes Bensouda Mourri was already giving lectures.
During his senior year, Mourri was working as a teaching assistant and gave his first lecture on deriving linear regression in front of a class of 30. Some of the students in the room were undergraduates like him, while others were pursuing Ph.D.s.
“It is scary to teach because you have people from all different types of backgrounds and you have to cater to everyone’s needs,” Mourri told Morocco World News. “I was shaking a little during my first lecture.”
Now pursuing his masters in statistics at Stanford University in California, Mourri is specializing in artificial intelligence (AI). He has also gone from occasionally giving lectures to teaching several computer science classes.
Mourri is the primary instructor of “Applied Machine Learning” and “Teaching Artificial Intelligence,” while also being a course advisor for the class “Deep Learning.” He is credited with co-creating all three of these classes.
Besides working with students in person, Mourri has also taken to teaching online.
Alongside Professor Andrew Ng, with whom he has worked with to co-create classes, Mourri has also developed content for the online course “Machine Learning” hosted on Coursera, an online learning platform.
“I was hired by the AI lab to improve the online ‘Machine Learning’ course and ended up redesigning a lot of the assignments because they were boring,” Mourri said. “I also worked on improving the class’ grading system.”
He is credited with redesigning 12 of the class assignments and building an auto-grader that grades millions of submissions in real time.
“Working online is incredible because I can be in my room making assignments for thousands of people all over the world,” Mourri said. “When you teach in the classroom, at most, you impact a few hundred students. But when you do it online your reach is endless.”
But working online provides a different set of challenges.
“Online, when you design an assignment, build a course or develop notes, you can’t make any mistakes,” Mourri said. “When you make a mistake it is a huge issue because there is no one else to help the students. Whatever you write has to be self explanatory and accurate because the students have no one else to go to if you’re wrong.”
The “machine learning” course is considered the most popular AI online class in the world. Nearly 100,000 have rated the course, giving it a 4.9 out of 5 stars.
“This class is so special and appeals to a broad audience because it explains a complicated topic in an understandable way,” Mourri said. “Anyone interested in breaking into the field of AI can enroll in this course and learn the basics. We make a complicated topic friendly.”
The course has also received as many as 25,000 reviews, many of them lauding the design of the class.
“An amazing skills of teaching and [a] very well structured course for people start[ing] to learn … machine learning. The assignments are very good for understanding the practical side of machine learning,” wrote an online student, with the initials “AQ,” in one of the class’s reviews.
Mourri’s future is uncertain, but he hopes to take everything he has learned and put it to good use.
“I’d love to one day begin an educational startup that works with schools to teach K-12 students computer science and AI. The current education system teaches students to compete against robots, when really, we should be teaching them to program the robots,” Mourri said. “I’m going to take all the AI I know and build something meaningful to help student[s] all over the world.”
This story was updated on April 20, 2019 to include original statements from Younes Bensouda Mourri.