UTM192H5 Artificial Intelligence Safety and Societal Impact


UTM192H5 Artificial Intelligence Safety and Societal Impact (SCI, HUM) 
Special Topics at the Intersection of Science and Humanities

This 0.5 credit course can be used to satisfy either your Science (SCI) or Humanities (HUM) distribution requirement. This course is offered in the Winter 2025 term (January-April).

AI safety is a field that studies the potential intentional and unintentional negative consequences caused by AI, and the prevention or mitigation of these issues. We have seen a tremendous growth in the capabilities of artificial intelligence systems over the last decade. This growth has impacted our everyday life in many ways, and has created risks of various kinds: privacy risks from analyzing consumer data, risks of fairness/bias arising from using AI to make decisions, risks of misinformation from Generative AI, and economic risks from automation. There are also rising concerns that an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) agent—an AI system with human-like intelligence on a wide range of cognitive tasks—can behave in ways that are surprising, unintended, and do not align with our values.

This course is an opportunity for students to explore the safety issues surrounding AI and how these issues have impacted society; it is also an opportunity to discuss ways to advocate for a path forward. We will explore the importance of these issues through case studies and lightning talks. Then, in later parts of the course, students will choose and explore one issue in depth in order to report on strategies to mitigate negative impact through a systems/technical approach, a policy/legislative approach, or a combination of approaches. If you're curious about the societal implications of AI and eager to make a difference, this course can be your gateway to understanding and responsibly shaping the future of AI.

This course offers students the chance to:

  • Explore the intended and unintended consequences of AI, both in its current form and what it could be in the future.
  • Research ways that we—as a community—can work together collectively to mitigate risk.
  • Work with people and ideas from a variety of disciplines, as AI safety is an inherently interdisciplinary field!

This utmONE Scholars first-year seminar is taught by:

Photo of Professor Lisa Zhang. The photo also displays a nature background.

Prof. Lisa Zhang, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Mathematical and Computational Sciences

How to Apply to UTM192H5: Artificial Intelligence Safety and Societal Impact

Students who receive an email invitation are eligible to apply. Invitations are sent on a rolling basis starting in May to early June. In the application form, you will have the opportunity to provide application answers for both your first and second choice of utmONE Scholars seminar. Please be sure to read our FAQ section.

Apply for UTM192H5 Artificial Intelligence Safety and Societal Impact