Benefit to Students

In short, the goal of this course is to introduce students to ways of thinking about how Artificial Intelligence will and has impacted humans, and how we can design interactive intelligent systems that are usable and beneficial to humans, and respect human values. As students in this course, you will build a number of different interactive technologies powered by AI, gain practical experience with what impacts their usability for humans, understand the various places that humans exist in the data pipeline that drives machine learning, and learn to think both optimistically and critically of what AI systems can do and how they can and should be integrated into society.

Work Required

Work required for this course is the following:

There is no final exam or final project in this course. Students who do well will be invited to continue on an independent project on topics related to the course working with Prof. Bigham during Spring semester.

More About Panels

Each week on Wednesday, we will have a panel presentation by members of the class. While the topic of the panel will be related to the readings, and students should prepare for the panel discussion by gathering evidence from the readings, the point is not to simply summarize the readings. Rather, students will work with Jeff and Joesph to develop an interesting question to present during their panel, and will split into two groups preparing to argue different sides of the question.

Each small group will prepare a short slide presentation of no more than 5 slides and lasting more than 5 minutes. Each group will send this to Jeff and Joseph by noon on the Monday of their panel week for feedback. They will present these in class, and then answer questions either directly from other students or the instructors, or pulled from the questions asked on the Slack channel that week.

Students not presenting on the panel in a given week will be responsible for asking a question in the Slack channel, and upvoting or downvoting at least one question from others.

Grading for panels will be based on overall preparation and quality of the panel presentation, ability to answer questions with supporting material from the readings or elsewhere, and participating in asking questions on the Slack channel.


Assignments will be graded no longer than one week after they are turned in, and grades will be posted on the course Canvas.

Final grades will be determined as follows:

15%Reading Panel Preparation (8%) & Participation (7%)

Many projects will additionally have opportunities to earn small amounts of bonus points.

We intend for anyone who puts in the effort required to be able to achieve a B or better in this course. Quizes, reading panels, and projects are intended to be straightforward to complete and/or prepare (if requiring significant effort).

Late Assignments

Projects are due at the beginning of class on the day they are due.

The bi-weekly projects form much of the practice competent of the course, thus it is important to complete them. The assignments often build on one another, and so being late with one runs the risk of putting you behind for future assignments. We grade our assignments in class together because this provides an additional learning opportunity, where you learn not only how you completed your assignment yourself, but also get to talk through with a classmate how they completed the assignment, what problems they might have had, etc. Thus, I highly encourage you to get your assignments in on time.

That said, we realize that things happen, and that you might sometimes not be able to turn in your assignments. To accommodate this, you will each receive 5 “free” late days, and you will each be able to miss one in-class grading session, without penalty. Beyond those days, you receive a 5% penalty and each in-class grading session missed beyond the first will cause a 20% penalty. If you have a medical or other excused absence, please let me know as soon as possible, and I will work to accommodate you.

There will be no opportunity to make up in-class activities (quizzes, panels, etc.). We will drop the lowest five grades that you receive on these quizzes.

Office Hours

Please join us at our office hours!

Joseph's normal office hours will be Mondays after class until 6pm in 407 S. Craig (second floor, in the back). Please also feel free to send a message to him on Slack anytime.

Jeff's normal office hours will be Tuesdays from 9am-10:30am in 407 S. Craig (second floor, in the back). Please also feel free to send a message to him on Slack anytime.

If you are asking a general question, that other students may also benefit from seeing, please ask in the general Slack channel. If you are asking a question specific to you, e.g., about a grade you received, about absence from class, an accommdation request, etc., then please ask us individually either in person or via Slack DM.

We tend to respond very quickly, but please do email me again if you don’t receive a response within 24 hours.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

If you have a disability and have an accommodations letter from the Disability Resources office, I encourage you to discuss your accommodations and needs with me as early in the semester as possible. I will work with you to ensure that accommodations are provided as appropriate. If you suspect that you may have a disability and would benefit from accommodations but are not yet registered with the Office of Disability Resources, I encourage you to contact them at

Health and Well-being

Take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.

All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is almost always helpful.

If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or in danger of self-harm, call someone immediately, day or night:
CaPS: 412-268-2922
Re:solve Crisis Network: 888-796-8226

If the situation is life threatening, call the police
On campus: CMU Police: 412-268-2323
Off campus: 911

If you have questions about this or your coursework, please let me know. Thank you, and have a great semester.