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2021/2022  BA-BINTV2005U  The Problem with Big Tech, and How to Fix it

English Title
The Problem with Big Tech, and How to Fix it

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Second Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 120
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, BSc
Course coordinator
  • Daniel Hardt - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Information technology
  • Communication
Teaching methods
  • Online teaching
Last updated on 09-08-2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Assess and critically examine current analyses of Big Tech, as reflected in course readings and videos.
  • Describe and discuss key principles underlying relevant Artificial Intelligence technologies, including the relation between Machine Learning and AI
  • Assess positive and negative views on the future potential of AI, including the potential for General Artificial Intelligence (GAI), including historical and current discussions of these issues. Also assess views on the social and economic effects of AI.
  • Assess the value and relevance of computational tools presented throughout the course in relation to their application in specific cases/scenarios. These are tools exemplifying key technologies of Big Tech, such as Data Mining, Recommender Systems, Digital Assistants, and Automatic Translation.
  • Assess and critically examine proposed solutions to the problem of Big Tech, as reflected in course readings and videos.
The Problem with Big Tech and How to Fix it:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Report
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
A new case and/or a new series of essay questions will form the basis of the re-exam.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Big Tech is running the world. Google, Facebook, Amazon are among the
most powerful companies on the planet. They have amassed this power through
astonishing technological innovation and productivity -- with search,
social networking, and online shopping, these companies have re-woven
the very fabric of everyday life. As a result, we can now access
information, communicate, and access consumer goods in ways that would
have been almost inconceivable just a few years ago. Incredibly,
digital access to this bounty is available essentially for free,
across the entire world.


But there's a problem. The course is about exactly what the problem is
with big tech -- and more importantly, how to fix it. Lurking just
under the surface of all this development is one particular
technology, namely Artificial Intelligence. Many believe that AI is
poised to usher in a kind of utopia with unprecedented improvements in
productivity and general living standards. We will examine this vision
of AI, looking at its history, how it works today, and where it is
likely to take us. Ultimately, the promise of AI is to produce a model
of the human mind -- we are still pretty far from that goal. But in
the meantime, Big Tech is busy applying AI to actual human minds
across the globe. The Internet has become a vast, unprecedented
psychology experiment being performed on billions of unwitting


In this course, we seek a concrete, practical solution to the problem
with Big Tech. The solution can't be simply walking away from our
technology. In fact, in large part the solution lies within the
technology itself, and we will see in this course that parts of the
solution have been in plain sight all along. Jaron Lanier argues that
the solution lies in the humanistic digital economy already envisioned
in the 1960's in the work of Ted Nelson, involving technical
mechanisms such as micropayments, and two-way links that empower
individuals and protect the integrity of content.



Description of the teaching methods
This is a fully online course. The course will run over 8 weeks. The course will consist of asynchronous and/or synchronous online lectures, asynchronous and/or synchronous online discussions, quizzes and individual and/or group assignments. Literature on the specific topics will be assigned during the quarter. The readings will also build the foundation on which we will discuss cases online, and they provide the necessary knowledge to work with home assignments. The lecturer will be available for asynchronous and/or synchronous online discussions throughout the 8 weeks in which the course runs. Students will get hands-on experience in the development, deployment and assessment of computational tools. While students will gain an understanding of key principles underlying these computational tools, students are not required to know how to program, and the focus will be conceptual rather than technical. Student participation will be targeted at producing insights that are meant to be covered in the final exam project.
Feedback during the teaching period
In each session, students make contributions to online forums, based on topics identified in the readings and online material. Students receive feedback from other students in the forum; in addition, the teacher provides overall feedback for the student contributions after each session.

Students also are presented with quizzes each week. They receive automatic feedback on their answers.

The teacher is available for weekly office hours in which students receive feedback of various forms, including feedback on their weekly contribution to the discussion forums.

Students receive written feedback on their final papers in Digital Exam.
Student workload
Reading 40 hours
Online Lectures and other videos 46 hours
Online activities 60 hours
Exam and Preparation for Exam 60 hours
Total 206 hours
Expected literature

The literature can be changed before the semester starts. Students are advised to find the final literature on Canvas before they buy the books.


Who Owns the Future? Jaron Lanier, Simon & Schuster, 2013

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, Brynjolfsson, E., & McAfee, A. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014

Last updated on 09-08-2021