Artificial Intelligence & Culture

By Jesse Hunter
Cohort 2019-2020

Student-centred course in AI

In the fall of 2019, Myriam Rafla and I taught two sections of the Cincom course MEDIALAB with a focus on AI.  The aim of this course according to the core competencies is to plan and execute a media event.  In our MEDIALAB course, the event was related to AI.

Flow of Coursework


Ray Kurtzweil warned of the coming singularity, when computers would one day achieve autonomy and take control over their creators. Well, to some extent we are governed by numbers, and machine learning is autonomous, but this begs the question: what role do algorithms play in our everyday lives and to what degree are we handing our agency over to them. Perhaps we run the risk of ceding control to intelligent systems by allowing our definitions of “intelligence” to be determined by the technological needs of the designers of these systems.

This site, and this course then, begin by asking what we mean by intelligence, and what the implications are of removing human imperfection from the intelligence equation.  It explores how artificial intelligence is impacting the world we are creating and what our responsibilities might be in confronting the new technologies.


Molecular Thoughts




Documents Handed Out to Students

Course Outline

Course Schedule

Research Proposal Guidelines

Project Management document (Google Doc)

Self Evaluation form




Students Are Oriented to the Various Domains Relating to AI
Step 1
  • intelligence itself
  • narrow versus general AI
  • AI’s impact on jobs
  • AI and language, consciousness and agency

and a general selection of widely circulated topics related to AI.  The orientation involved reading short articles, watching videos, and then discussing students’ interests and concerns related to the topic.

For example:

  • data and dating:


  • competing notions of Intelligence
  • the general intelligence (suggested by Charles Spearman) and IQ tests
  • multiple intelligences (suggested by Howard Garner)


Students then wrote a response to a spoken-word piece called I’m Not Batman, identifying the various “intelligences” on display as per the above.


Step 2

Students perused a collection of blog posts to find one of particular interest to them.  They then researched it further to create an infographic using Photoshop and Canva (like the ones below) and presented it and their research to the class:



Or this:



Step 3

Students developed their research and planned the event to present their work.

So a project on AI and culture:


Became an analysis of China’s Social Credit Scoring System


Or this look at AI and Sustainability became a study of AI’s role in fashion:




See Student Projects:

Media Lab W2020 AI Projects

Kirby Karihwenha:wi
(The future of Make Up)

Thahee’a Il-Adrisi Blog Thahee’a Il-Adrisi Website
(Upgrading our faces)

Ryan Bechara
(AI and Celebrity)

Sandro Quattrini Film / Sandro Quattrini Blog
(An animation about virtual identity)

Scott Field Film / Scott Field Blog
(Conversation with a machine)