Stanford, one of the world’ great universities, is poised as the test bed for a disruptive innovation to beat them all. Bringing the costs down to one percent surely qualifies as disruptive. Thrun’s ultimate mission is a virtual university in which the best professors broadcast their lectures to tens of thousands of students. Testing, peer interaction and grading would happen online; a cadre of teaching assistants would provide some human supervision; and the price would be within reach of almost anyone. “Literally, we can probably get the same quality of education I teach in class for about 1 to 2 percent of the cost,” Thrun told me.