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University Course – The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) (UNIV 3275).  Over the past decade, AI technology has progressed exponentially, becoming a key fabric of our everyday lives across e-commerce, educational and research platforms, entertainment, and the popular imaginary. While marvelous advancements in the sector have been celebrated as the sublimation of human reason, the mysterious workings, existential implication, and potential misuse of AI have also become cause for concern, catalyzing demands to establish ethical standards and regulatory parameters. Responding to this urgent need, this course explores the composition and representations of AI technology from an ethical perspective. Students will learn basic yet fundamental aspects of intelligent, computational modeling and processing, and critically reflect on their learnings through literary/philosophical/legal/business materials through workshops, discussions, guest lectures, and field trips. Aiming to cultivate interdisciplinary and immersive learning, the course will build toward creative projects, which will be showcased in a conference-fair at the end of the semester.


Doug Fisher, Associate Professor of Computer Science. Fisher’s research and teaching focuses on artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning, computational creativity, AI for a sustainable environment and society, and AI to promote civility and productivity in public discourse.


Haerin Shin, Assistant Professor of English. Shin’s research focuses on ontology and technology, cognitive literary theory, psychoanalytic criticism, cyborg theories, the posthuman, speculative fiction and Asian American literature.



Course Overview

Key features:

  • Look “under the hood” of AI systems, learning key aspects of computational intelligence without the need for programming.
  • Interrogate representations of AI across media, such as films, animations, fiction and non-fiction writing, online games, simulations, and off-the-shelf machine learning software.
  • Explore technological, social, and cultural implications of AI, ranging from highway safety and economic (in)stability, to perceptions of personhood and the divine.
  • Examine aspects of “intelligence” from an ethical standpoint – such as memory, consciousness, physical integrity, sentience — to better appreciate how AIs and humans can collaborate.
  • Apply design and critical thinking skills, and other methodologies that suit your interests (e.g., historiography, art, programming), to create a project of your own design.

Degree requirements fulfilled:

  • College of Arts and Science: Counts as an elective credit. Counts as a bridging course towards the Communication of Science and Technology (CSET) major.
  • Blair School of Music: Counts as an academic elective.
  • Peabody College: Counts toward the social science requirement of the undergraduate major programs, or as general elective credit.
  • School of Engineering: Counts as an open elective