About the Course

CCTP-607: “Big Ideas” in Technology and What They Mean: AI to The Cloud

Professor Martin Irvine
Communication, Culture & Technology Program
Georgetown University

This course will provide a conceptual and design-oriented introduction to some of the “big ideas” in technology that everyone needs to know. The course is especially designed for students from non-technical backgrounds, but all students can benefit from learning the methods in this course.

In launching this new course, we will build much of the “content,” questions, and problems to be studied from the interests and background levels of students in the course. The topics and readings are not yet determined for many of the syllabus weeks. We will allow many questions and starting points to emerge from the active engagement of students.

Every cycle of “new” technology brings responses of hype, hope, and hysteria. In this course, we will go beyond the hype and learn what our current “Big Ideas” in technology are really about: What is “artificial intelligence” or “AI”? What are “algorithms” and how are they designed? What is “The Cloud”? What is “Big Data” and what do we mean by “Data Analytics” and “Data Visualization”? What is “the Internet of Things (IoT)”? What are “smart” appliances (home security, media services, shopping)? Every day, the news media, popular discourse, marketing, and advertising are full of statements about these technologies, but treated as unfathomable “black boxes” and corporate branded products. This course will provide the methods, key concepts, and analytical tools for understanding the “Big Ideas” and what they mean.