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University of California, Davis

Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Ethics

University of California, Davis via Coursera


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This course gives you context and first-hand experience with the two major catalyzers of the computational science revolution: big data and artificial intelligence. With more than 99% of all mediated information in digital format and with 98% of the world population using digital technology, humanity produces an impressive digital footprint. In theory, this provides unprecedented opportunities to understand and shape society. In practice, the only way this information deluge can be processed is through using the same digital technologies that produced it. Data is the fuel, but machine learning it the motor to extract remarkable new knowledge from vasts amounts of data. Since an important part of this data is about ourselves, using algorithms in order to learn more about ourselves naturally leads to ethical questions. Therefore, we cannot finish this course without also talking about research ethics and about some of the old and new lines computational social scientists have to keep in mind. As hands-on labs, you will use IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence to extract the personality of people from their digital text traces, and you will experience the power and limitations of machine learning by teaching two teachable machines from Google yourself.


  • Getting Started and Big Data Opportunities
    • In this module, you will be able to define the idea of big data and digital footprint. You will be able to discuss how big data is represented in social science and identify the opportunities of big data.
  • Big Data Limitations
    • In this module, you will be able to explain the limitations of big data. You will work with an AI interface, IBM Watson, and discover how AI can identify personality through Natural Language Processing. You will analyze the personality of a person.
  • Artificial Intelligence
    • In this module, you will discover the history of artificial intelligence (AI) and its fields of study. You'll be able to examine how AI is used through case studies. You will be able to discuss the application of AI and you will use AI to create a unique artifact through a hands-on exercise.
  • Research Ethics
    • In this module, you will be able to define the term research ethics. You will be able to examine the role ethics plays in conducting research. You will be able to discuss how ethics is applied when using AI and big data.

Taught by

Martin Hilbert


5.0 rating, based on 6 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at Coursera based on 499 ratings

Start your review of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Ethics

  • Anonymous
    This course dives into Big Data and Artificial Intelligence which was personally my favorite course that I have took. It really was able to expand the way I thought about my digital footprint as well as the digital footprint left by everyone in the world. It was amazing to see how through this data which you are able to gather straight from the internet, scientists are able to understand different aspects of society. A nice plus was the ethics portion which have changed throughout time with the advancement of the digital web. The labs were also very beneficial and fun as I was able to have a hands on learning demonstration.
  • Anonymous
    Informative, interesting course on the power of digital information in today's society. In this section, you will learn about big data uses and just exactly what artificial intelligence is. The interactive lab with IBM's Watson is especially interesting and helps connect the pieces of the puzzle of what A.I. entails.
  • Anonymous
    These are novel academic fields for me. I did not have any idea before taking the course. I learned introductory level information that I believe will be very helpful in my academic studies later.
  • Anonymous
    This course has the most beneficial information if you are interested in the field. If you plan to pursue a career related to this (or even if you are not sure and are just interested), taking this course would be a nice choice! It's not difficult and only works to provide basic information about big data and AI. It might be a lot of materials to cover since it's like an introduction course, but it will be worth to learn about it. We are living in an advanced world and I personally believe it is important to understand how it operates.
  • Anonymous
    This course is a solid introduction to big data and how the concepts of big data directly applies to social science, artificial intelligence, and ethics. Working with an artificial intelligence interface was very interesting in learning the things that big data cannot fully bring. Also, I believe that the learning of the ethics portion of this section was also important in the realms of research and can be very applicable to those that will be conducting research in the future.
  • Anonymous
    I like how one of the ethics portion is formatted as a conversation because it highlights how these technologies are so new and the ethics around them are also still in discussion. Gives you a lot to think about regarding ethics and the power of big data and AI.

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