In the past few years, we have witnessed both a stunning acceleration of artificial intelligence (AI) innovation and a suite of terrifying AI blunders. From racist predictive sentencing software to sexist automated resume processing, and from recommendation algorithms that radicalize us to feeds that distract us, it is clear that AI has had more than its fair share of unintended consequences. This course will investigate current AI failures in the domains of bias and discrimination, radicalization and polarization, privacy and surveillance, environmental sustainability, and labor. Through readings, discussions, case-studies, guest lectures, playing with code, and field trips we will engage deeply with questions about the ethics, unintended consequences, and potential futures of AI. We will ask what kinds of processes, questions, and safeguards could have prevented the worst consequences of prominent AI mistakes and also seek inspiration from ongoing efforts to encourage more responsible AI. The goal of this course is to equip students with sociotechnical and critical skills to think through the human consequences of decisions made in the creation and deployment of AI. In the end we will employ these critical and technical skills in a real-world project that will help foster responsible AI in our own communities.
Instructors: Elizabeth Callaway, Rogelio E. Cardona-Rivera