Curriculum  |    |  May 19, 2021

We are AI: Taking Control of Technology

Curriculum developed by The Center for Responsible AI at NYU Tandon, in partnership with the Queens Public Library and Peer-to-Peer University (P2PU). We Are AI is a five-week course to give citizens a primer on AI and empower them to advocate for policies that prevent its abuses. It was created to provide a new understanding of artificial intelligence and its impact on daily life.

Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) refers to a growing world of sophisticated computer programs that “learn” from data in order to make decisions. Many of these AI systems are invisible to the public, yet the results of the decisions they make (or help humans make) have a huge impact on modern life.

For many of us, AI primarily impacts the way we do things online: it controls whose updates we read on Facebook, which products we select on Amazon, and which movies we watch on Netflix. However, AI is increasingly being used to make decisions in more serious areas of life like hiring (E.g., deciding whose resume gets reviewed by a human and whose gets skipped), education (E.g., assigning grades based on past performance), and even law enforcement (E.g., helping a judge decide who gets bail).

Because of how important AI is in our lives, we should understand how it works so that we can control it together! The goal of this 5-week learning circle course is to introduce the basics of AI, discuss some of the social and ethical dimensions of the use of AI in modern life, and empower individuals to engage with how AI is used and governed.

This course consists of 5 modules. Each module comes with a short accompanying video, which you will watch as a group. We also developed a comic book series called “We are AI” for this course, with one volume for each module. These comic books are supplementary reading, and we hope that you will find them useful in and out of the learning circle.

Structure and use

Anyone can use this material to facilitate a learning group or educate themselves on the topic of AI. (No math, programming skills, or existing understanding of AI is required.)

This course is designed to be run as a learning circle: a facilitated study group for people who want to meet regularly and learn about a topic with others. There are no teachers or students in a learning circle—it is a group where everyone learns the material together. The learning circle’s facilitator decides the meeting schedule, keeps the group on task during meetings, and supports individual learners’ participation and goals. (Learn more about learning circle facilitation here.)

All of the materials, discussion prompts, and activities needed to run a group with minimal preparation are incorporated into this course. The flow of each meeting will vary but generally: participants will watch short instructional videos, discuss the subject matter, and complete short activities. There is no homework (only optional supplemental readings) so all work takes place during the meeting. Check each module for tips on facilitating specific material.

  • Meet for 90 minutes a week for five weeks, working through one module each week. This will provide the group adequate time to connect with each other, invest in the topic, and understand how the course content impacts their daily lives.
  • Review each module briefly beforehand. The suggested timing will always add up to 75-80 minutes, providing you some flexibility as to how you spend your time in each meeting and giving some time for breaks as needed.
  • Use this course for either online or in-person learning circles. Check the facilitator tips throughout the course for suggestions on how to use these materials effectively in either context. If meeting online, we recommend that all participants have a webcam and microphone to engage fully with the group and activities.

See course credits and design notes. Built using Course in a Box, a project of P2PU. Unless otherwise noted, all the materials on this site are licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license