Under Revision (from Spring 2019 offering)

This schedule for the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in Spring 2020 includes a weekly summary of in-class activities, and pre-class and post-class responsibilities. For more detailed descriptions of what these responsibilities are, see Course Organization.

Most weeks have this skeletal structure: Prep on course materials by Tuesday class; group technical assignments due on Tuesday nights; individual discussion for posts due Wednesdays; individual forum post responses due Fridays; and start on the following week’s material.

All assigned materials (with a few exceptions) are available on this Schedule.

Summary of non-weekly deadlines (all at 11:59 PM on Brightspace unless noted otherwise)

  • Final-Project Group-of-3 Preferences: Friday, February 28
  • Poster (if you want us to print it): Tuesday, April 7
  • Late-Term Exam: Thursday, April 9
  • Conference Fair: Tuesday, April 14 (2:35 am – 3:50 pm, Sarratt Promenade)
  • Individual Reflection of Final Project: Wednesday, April 15
  • Final Collaborative Group Project Report (1 per team): Friday, April 17


The Spectrum of AIs: Weak (narrow), Strong (general), and Super AIs

To Do before January 7 class:

  • See pre-class email that asks you to study these pages and start the materials for January 9

Class meeting (Tuesday, January 7 ):

  • Attendance
  • Introductions
  • Course Overview, including weak AI, strong AI, and super AI
  • Read Isaac Asimov’s short story “Robot Dreams” aloud in class
  • Discussion

To Do before January 9 class:

These responsibilities deviate from the “Typical Week” format under Course Organization.

Class meeting (Thursday, January 9 ):

To Do after January 9 class:

These responsibilities return to the “Typical Week” format under Course Organization.


  • Guest discussant: Professor Abhishek Dubey

To Do before January 14 class:

  • See “For Week 2” above
  • Take poll for Blade Runner screening event  (see Brightspace email of 1/12/19 approx 11:00 am)

Class meeting (Jan 14):

  • Attendance
  • Discuss smart cities with guest discussant Professor Dubey

To Do before Jan 16 class:

  • Scan the paper titles and descriptions at the Smart Cities Conference
  • Group Assignment GA-w2: upload by Tuesday, January 14 11:59 pm (Reminder)
  • VF-w2 post (approximately 250 words): thoughts on any aspect of Smart Cities you wish, with additional source references (not included in word count) by Wednesday, January 15 11:59 pm

Class meeting (Jan 16):

To Do after Jan 16 class:


  • Guest discussant: Professor Jay Clayton (English, Curb Center)

To Do BEFORE January 21 class:

  • See “For Week 3” above

Class meeting (January 21):

  • Attendance
  • Announcement: Blade Runner Screening Jan 25 Sat, 3-5pm, Buttrick 103 (friends welcome)
  • Discuss computational creativity with Professor Clayton

To Do BEFORE January 23 class:

  • Technical Assignment TA-w3: Upload by Tuesday, January 21 at 11:59 pm (Reminder)
  • VF-w3 post (approximately 250 words): thoughts on any aspect of AI and creativity you wish, with additional source references (not included in word count) by Wednesday, January 22 11:59 pm
  • Also, FYI, slides on Creativity and AI – Jay Clayton

Class meeting (January 23):

To Do after Jan 23 class:


To Do BEFORE January 28 class:

  • See “For Week 4” above

Class meeting (January 28):

  • Attendance
  • Discuss texts and issues with Prof. McGee

To Do BEFORE January 30 class:

  • Technical Assignment TA-w4: Upload by Tuesday, January 28 at 11:59 pm (reminder)
  • VF-w4 post (approximately 250 words): thoughts on any aspect of AI and social justice you wish, with additional source references (not included in word count) by Wednesday, January 29 11:59 pm

Class meeting (January 30):

To Do after January 30 class:

  • Post responses R-w4 to at least one other class member’s VF post by Friday, January 31 at 11:59 pm using the ‘reply’ function on Brightspace.
  • Technical Assignment TA-w5: Upload by Tuesday, February 4 at 11:59 pm
  • For week 5
    • Read the following posts from Professor JB Ruhl’s blog posts:
      • How Much Better Can AI Make Legal Search? SEPTEMBER 4, 2018
      • Expanding the AI & Law Matrix FEBRUARY 19, 2018
      • Vanderbilt Law Students Build Apps for Access to Justice! APRIL 20, 2017
    • Read “AI and Law: A Fruitful Strategy” by Edwina Rissland, et. al.
    • Read Lawrence Solum’s “Legal Personhood for Artificial Intelligence” up to the first sentence of page 1240. Scan the rest of the article, making note of each section, subsection, and subsubsection heading.
    • Read Ted Chiang’s The Lifecycle of Software Objects (Long, start early)
    • There is a reading and a video as part of TA-w5, but the time required for those is budgeted as part of the time required for the TA.


  • Guest Discussant: Professor JB Ruhl (Law School)

To Do BEFORE February 4 class:

  • See “For Week 5” above

In Class (February 4):

  • Attendance
  • Pointer to TA-w4 comments
  • Discuss texts and issues with Professor Ruhl  

To Do BEFORE February 6 class:

  • Technical Assignment TA-w5: Upload by Tuesday, February 4 at 11:59 pm (reminder)
  • VF-w5 post on any aspect of AI and Law, making contact with required readings by Wednesday, February 5 at 11:59 pm

In Class (February 6):

  • Form Assignment Groups of Three (for next week)
  • Attendance
  • Blog posts – select one, tailor it, and send it to us (to be posted on the University Course Breakthru Blog)
  • Under the Hood (AI Theory): Evaluating machine learning and AI systems
  • Discuss assigned text(s) in relation to TA and VF

To Do after February 6 class:


  • Guess Discussant: Ashok Goel (Georgia Tech) – will be Zooming in

To Do BEFORE February 11 class:

  • See “For Week 6” above

In Class (February 11):

  • Attendance
  • Discuss texts

To Do BEFORE February 13 class:

  • Technical Assignment TA-w6: Upload by Tuesday, February 11 at 11:59 pm (reminder)
  • VF-w6 post on any aspect of AI, Education, and Sustainability, making contact with required readings by Wednesday, February 12 at 11:59 pm

In Class (February 13):

  • Form Assignment Groups of Three (for next week)
  • Attendance
  • Under the Hood (AI Theory): Optimization
  • Discuss text in relation to TA and VF

To Do after February 13 class:

WEEK 7: AI & ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY (move this until after Spring break)

  • Guest discussant:

To Do BEFORE Feb 18:

  • See “For Week 7” above

In Class (February 18):

  • Attendance
  • Discuss the texts with Dr. Buckles

To Do BEFORE Feb 20:

  • Technical Assignment TA-w7: Upload by Tuesday, February 18 at 11:59 pm (reminder)
  • VF-w7 post on any aspect of AI, Economy, Business, and Finance making contact with required readings by Wednesday, February 19 at 11:59 pm

In Class (February 20):

  • Form Technical Assignment Groups of Three (for next week)
  • Attendance
  • Under the Hood (AI Theory): Seeing AI beneath the surface
  • Discuss text in relation to TA and VF

To Do after February 20 class:

WEEK 8: SUPERINTELLIGENCE (“eliminate” by folding into other weeks)

  • Guest Discussant: Michael Bess

To Do BEFORE February 25 class:

  • See “For Week 8” above

In Class (February 25):

  • Attendance
  • Michael Bess as guest discussant
  • Discuss the texts

To Do BEFORE February 27:

  • Technical Assignment TA-w8: Upload by Tuesday, February 25 at 11:59 pm
  • VF Post on Person of Interest episode OR “Crystal Nights,” based on insights from “Plan B,” including scene/sequence analysis (POI) or close reading from the short story (pick a concrete passages and offer analysis to support your claim), by Wed 11:59pm

In Class (February 27):

  • Form Technical Assignment Groups of Three (for next week)
  • Attendance
  • Under the Hood (AI Theory)
  • Discuss text in relation to TA  and VF
  • Doug will be Zooming in from Minneapolis

To Do after Feb 27 class (before, and throughout Spring Break)

  • VF response by Fri 11:59pm
  • Submit Final-Project Group-of-3 preferences by Friday, February 28 at 11:59 pm as a single Word or plain text file under Assignments on Brightspace, NOT Discussions
    • who you would prefer working with (top 5, at least, and can be “anyone”)
    • Two-three ideas on a final project topic ( — “elevator pitches” in no more than 50 words total)
  • Review class content up till now in prep for midterm synthesis
  • Read William Gibson’s Neuromancer

WEEK 9 Spring break (February 29 – March 8 )

WEEK 10: Middle-of-the term synthesis and project start

  • Guest Discussant: Maithilee Kunda (Computer Science)

To Do BEFORE March 10:

  • Finish Neuromancer

In Class (Tuesday, March 10):

  • Attendance
  • Ted Chiang Mar 16 6:15 PM Dinner and Discussion  sign up sheet reminder: (closed for dinner, but not discussion — Warren College, Delbrück Hall first floor lounge)
  • Questions on Final Project Groups
    • as well as doing the final project as a group, any subsequent TAs will be done in these groups too
  • Discuss take-home synthesis exam (due on Week 12, Mar 29 before midnight): : AI Ethics Synthesis Exam (word format), AI Ethics Synthesis Exam (pdf format), explanation (stand-in for final exam), questions
  • Discussion of Neuromancer
  • Center for Teaching SGA (Small Group Analysis)  (starting at 11:55am)

To Do BEFORE March 12 class:

  • Meet with your project groups
  • VF on Neuromancer by Wednesday 11:59pm

In Class (March 12):

  • Attendance
  • Present group elevator pitches in class, exchange feedback, with Professor Kunda

To Do after March 12 class: 

  • VF post – questions for Ted Chiang and other panelists next week (review earlier Ted Chiang readings “For Week 5” and “For Week 8”) – by Fri 11:59pm (No response this week to Wednesday’s post)
  • Required Reading: Sigmund Freud’s “The Uncanny” (abridged version: just the first 10 pages, minus the dictionary definitions on pgs 2-4) and Masahiro Mori’s “The Uncanny Valley
  • Read Ted Chiang’s article on AI


  • Guest Speaker: Ted Chiang (round table discussion with Michael Bess & Maithilee Kunda)


  • TA by 11:59pm
  • Ted Chiang Round Table Discussion with Michael Bess, Maithilee Kunda: MARCH 16th, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm, Wilson 126 (open to public –  invite your friends & spread the word!!) — Attendance mandatory (if you can’t make it, please let us know in advance and tell us why) 

In Class (March 17):

  • Attendance
  • Invited Speaker Ted Chiang Class Visit 

To Do BEFORE March 19:

  • Post VF on Uncanny / Uncanny Valley, considering their ethical implications

In Class (March 19):

To Do after March 19 class:


  • Guest Discussant: Clifford Anderson (Library, Divinity School)

In Class (March 24):

  • Discuss film & essay with Clifford Anderson (visit moved to Thursday) in small groups, calling upon student expertise

To Do BEFORE March 26:

  • VF Post on the film, based on insights from the essays (scene/sequence analysis) by Wed 11:59pm

In Class (March 26):

  • Helen will be zooming in from NC
  • Under the Hood (AI Theory), calling upon student expertise, in Small Groups (moved to Tuesday March 24)
  • Joint summary and discussion with Clifford Anderson
  • Notes on forum posts

To Do after March 26 class:

  • DRAFT Synthesis take-home examination due by Friday, March 27 at 11:59pm (upload to Brightspace) Do two out of three essays
  • For Week 13

WEEK 13: AI and MILITARY (move to before Spring break)

  • Guest Discussant: Janos Sztipanovits (EECS, Institute for Software Integrated Systems)
  • Group Project Updates

To Do BEFORE March 31 class:

  • See “For Week 13” above

In Class (March 31):

  • Discuss material and state of art with Professor Sztipanovits (sends regrets, but experienced travel disruption)
  • Watch Ted Talk on robots in warfare

To Do BEFORE April 2 class:

  • VF on Black Mirror episode, drawing on the insights from the other material, by Wed 11:59pm

In Class (April 2):

To Do after April 2 class:

WEEK 14: AI & MEDICINE (move to before Spring break?)

  • Guest Discussant: Colin Walsh, Biomedical informatics / psychiatry / medicine

To Do BEFORE April 7:

  • See “For Week 14” above

In Class (April 7):

  • Under the Hood (AI Theory) on AI and Medicine, calling upon student expertise, in Small Groups
  • Joint summary and discussion 
  • Submit Posters if you are doing a poster for Final Group Project and you want us to print it

To Do BEFORE April 9:

  • VF post by Wed 11:59pm

In Class (April 9):

  • Guest discussant Colin Walsh, on “AI for diagnosis & prevention, from instances to principles”

To Do After April 9 Class:


To Do BEFORE April 14 class:

  • Prepare for Conference Fair  

In Class (April 14):

  • Conference Fair: Sarratt Promenade  

To Do BEFORE April 16 class

  • Submit Individual Reflection on Project, individually written (min. 250~ max. 500 words) to VF by Wed, April 15 11:59pm

In Class (April 16)

  • Retrospective Town Hall  (open conversation on class experience and learnings – with food!) 
    • Go around and share thoughts & reflections about the course experience, suggestions and ideas for future iterations, etc.
    • Sign licence agreement for digital archive
    • Poster reimbursement
    • Info about course eval

To Do After April 16 class

Classes End (Monday, April 20)

Reading Day (Tuesday, April 21, 2018)

Douglas H. Fisher (Computer Science; Computer Engineering; Communication of  Science & Technology — affiliated)
Haerin Shin (English; Cinema & Media Arts; Asian Studies — affiliated)