Info 290

Special Topics in Information

1-4 units

Course Description

Specific topics, hours and credit may vary from section to section, year to year. May be repeated for credit with change in content.



Courses Offered

In this class students will continue research projects from INFO 217A. HCI research. The class includes weekly one-on-one meetings with each project team. Students will read literature related to their project assigned by the instructor and continue their projects. The final deliverable for the class will be a full conference or journal paper.

This class will be aimed primarily towards master’s students but open to Ph.D. students as well. We will begin by evaluating the standard arguments for government intervention (e.g., addressing externalities, promoting competition, etc.), which typically assume that people are thinking carefully and optimizing their decisions towards some stable set of preferences. Then we will explore the evidence on three ways people deviate from those standard assumptions: non-standard beliefs, non-standard preferences, and non-standard decision-making processes. We will work to arrive at a set of psychological principles that improve our understanding of many long standing social problems (e.g., crime, addiction, prejudice) in addition to emerging issues (e.g., algorithms/AI, mental health, cultural differences). We will close the class by addressing the scope for different interventions to address these problems.

Our world is rife with misinformation. This is a course about misinformation and “calling bullshit” — spotting, dissecting, and publicly refuting — false claims, but also inferences based on quantitative, statistical, and computational analysis of data. Spotting misinformation; causal fallacies; statistical traps; data visualization; big data; interpreting scientific claims; fake news and social media; refutation techniques. Prior math or statistics background unnecessary.

Peoples and communities around the world will be confronting the challenges of climate change, ecosystem degradation, and biodiversity loss for many decades to come. This course will explore the different ways in which the informatics and computing field can contribute to our individual and collective efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Through readings and discussions, students will critically engage with foundational and leading-edge perspectives on diverse topics such as systems thinking for sustainable computing, sustainability in/through design, collapse informatics, fighting climate misinformation and climate anxiety, as well as how knowledge and tools from the fields of machine learning, human-computer interaction, web3, IoT, and remote sensing are being applied to novel solutions in many different settings.

Student-led projects will research the information needs and information seeking behaviors of individuals and communities, both now and into the future, and design information tools and resources to support them in their efforts of climate mitigation, adaptation, advocacy, and education.

The Future of Cybersecurity Working Group (FCWG) assembles students, researchers, and faculty from across the campus with a shared interest in security. We read and discuss the current cybersecurity scholarship and workshop projects related to cybersecurity. Our goal is to support critical inquiry into security and explore how it relates to political science, law, economics, the military, and intelligence gathering. Students are required to participate in weekly sessions, present short papers on the readings, and write response pieces.

This course will explore what HCI knowledge and methods can bring to the study, design, and evaluation of AI systems with a particular emphasis on the human, social, and ethical impact of those systems. Students will read papers and engage in discussions around the three main components of a human-centered design process as it relates to an AI system:

  1. needs assessment,
  2. design and development, and
  3. evaluation.

Following these three main design phases, students will learn what needs assessment might look like for designing AI systems, how those systems might be prototyped, and what HCI methods for real-world evaluation can teach us about evaluating AI systems in their context of use. The course will also discuss challenges that are unique to AI systems, such as understanding and communicating technical capabilities and recognizing and recovering from errors.

Guest lectures will be given by experts in AI ethics (e.g., Timnit Gebru) and fairness, accountability, and transparency in AI systems (e.g., Motahhare Eslami).

For this course, we are going to tackle one of the world’s biggest challenges (voted on by the students). We will organize as an innovation lab tasked with developing new products and so as to better understand the principles, process, and outputs of interaction design. The goal will be to be able to apply the concepts and frameworks we cover in class to a real problem space.

Students will be responsible for developing a robust prototype over the final few weeks of the course. They will also write a reflection on the prototype development process, drawing on the theoretical concepts covered in the course. On the last day of class, students will present their work to a panel of industry experts for feedback.

This seminar explores markets as a social and information technology, examining how they are constructed and how they function in the digital economy. The course connects ongoing developments in markets and market design to longstanding lines of scholarship, engaging with both foundational and contemporary readings across fields such as information economics, social theory, science and technology studies, and information science.

Topics include examining the role of markets as information-processing technologies, as social and economic coordination, how markets are maintained and constructed, and concepts of fairness associated with markets and market allocation. The course ends with an examination of digital markets, blockchain technologies and ongoing concerns with digital antitrust and platform power.

Students will learn to critically examine and take a historical and theoretically informed view towards the role of markets. Students will be able to apply such framings to existing issues in digital markets, such as antitrust, control over market information, and price discrimination, across domains such as ad auctions, e-commerce and the gig economy.

This course is suitable for both graduate and undergraduate students interested in how markets are studied across different fields, and is designed to be accessible to students of all backgrounds.

Karl Marx wrote, “the philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.” This discussion-based seminar examines varied political philosophies and the roles they suggest for the potentially transformational work of design, development, governance of built systems. We begin with an examination of liberal democratic capitalism and the imaginaries of technology, communication, and governance that align with it. We then explore design, deployment, and governance practices aligned with visions of economic democracy, direct democracy, socialism, Afrofuturism, Zapatismo, and Native American sovereignties. This is a discussion based seminar with the option of a research paper or project proposal as a final project.

This advanced seminar course provides an overview of current research at the intersection of natural language processing (NLP) and adjacent research areas that emphasize the social aspects of language, such as computational social science, cultural analytics, AI ethics, and HCI. Students will learn how NLP can help answer social scientific questions, and how social aspects of language are incorporated into NLP models. We’ll examine social issues and pitfalls within the field, and how we can use NLP methods to analyze and support communication and behavior.

This course is targeted towards graduate students and advanced undergraduates who have prior experience with NLP (e.g. word embeddings, topic modeling, large language models). Students will gain an in-depth understanding of on-going research questions, and conduct a hands-on project of their own design that intersects social phenomena with language data. Class time will be a mix of lectures, discussion, and collaborative project work.

How do you create a concise and compelling User Experience portfolio? Applying the principles of effective storytelling to make a complex project quickly comprehensible is key. Your portfolio case studies should articulate the initial problem, synopsize the design process, explain the key decisions that moved the project forward, and highlight why the solution was appropriate. This course will include talks by several UX hiring managers who will discuss what they look for in portfolios and common mistakes to avoid.

Students should come to the course with a completed project to use as the basis for their case study; they will finish with a completed case study and repeatable process. Although this class focuses on UX, students from related fields who are expected to share examples and outcomes of past projects during the interview process (data science, product management, etc.) are welcome to join.

Last updated:

February 15, 2019