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Critical AI Studies for Public Policy


Units: 6


With the rapid development of algorithmic and computing power as well as the tech industry’s growing capacity to collect massive data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques have increasingly become a ubiquitous part of our everyday lives. These techniques impact fields such as communication, healthcare, finance, policing, and workplace management. Instead of studying AI as a purely technical subject, in this course, we will critically examine the most recent developments and deployments of AI from a social, cultural and policy perspective.  Drawing upon real-world cases, this course will introduce students to the basic concepts and main topics to think about AI socially, help them understand the potential benefits and pitfalls of various contemporary AI applications, and think towards future AI systems that can deliver greater social good.

The course will include a mix of lectures, group discussions, guest lectures and small group in-class activities. Students will be asked to come to class having carefully read the required readings, submit response and discussion questions on Canvas and respond to each other. Building on concepts and cases discussed in this class, students will also be asked to write two policy memos (one mini, one final) on the topic of their choice.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you should be able to

  • Analyze the social, cultural and policy dimensions of AI in various social domains
  • Identify potential benefits and pitfalls (e.g. bias) in existing AI applications
  • Develop and write policy memos on AI systems that can yield greater societal benefits

Prerequisites Description

No prior knowledge required.