LIB 4900: Sociotechnical Analysis of Artificial Intelligence - Prof. Francoeur

April 1 (Monday)

Due Today


  • Research consultations about your final project topic
  • April 8 (Monday) class will be asynchronous (no classroom schedule for that day but online activities due by following Friday)
  • Comments on midterm exams

Unit Wrap-up on "Information Quality"

The information ecosystem

  • What is the information ecosystem
  • Brief intro to the history of environmental regulation in the United States
  • Each student will read this article:
  • Working in pairs, students will complete this online form as we prepare for a classroom debate on the following question:
    • Synthetic media needs to be regulated to minimize pollution of our information ecosystem just as earlier regulation from the 1960s and on began to regulate industry and individuals from various practices that polluted our natural environment. 
  • Class will be divided into two groups to take opposing sides on the debate question.

New Unit Intro: Economic and Labor Issues

In-class activity #9: How much does it cost to create a new generative AI model?

  • Due Friday, April 5
  • Find the most reputable source you can that details how much is costs to create a new generative AI model. In a Word document you will turn in, provide:
    • Correct MLA style citation for that source
    • A paragraph that does two key things
      • Detail the cost estimate you found
      • Explain in 2-3 sentences how you know that is the most reputable source you could have found on this topic.

April 5 (Friday)

Due Today

  • In-class activity #9: How much does it cost to create a new generative AI model?


  • No in-person class on Monday, April 8 but there is an asynchronous online class with activities that need to be completed before class on Friday, April 12.
  • Volunteers needed for April 8 and April 10 to meet with candidates for library dean position.

New Unit on Economics and Labor

Issues covered

  • how worried should we be that will AI threaten jobs in different industries?
  • to what extent is the development of AI systems dependent on outsourcing labor to developing countries?
  • are we OK with what is being asked of this labor force and how it is being treated?
  • how will AI systems affect management practices here in the US?
  • how is the development of AI connected to global politics?

Foundation models

  • GPT-4 is the foundation model used for OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot 
  • Claude 3 is the foundation model used for Anthropic’s Claude 
  • Gemini 1.5 is the foundation model used for Google’s Gemini 
  • Stable Diffusion is the foundation model for Stability AI

Foundational models diagram

The image above can be found in this report from Gartner:

Development costs for generative AI


Recommended sources for researching the business behind AI development

Once you have signed up for your free Wall Street Journal subscription (see the Wall Street Journal link above), go to this page to browse articles on AI:

April 8 (Monday)

Online Asynchronous Day, Not an In-Person Day

Class will not meet in person today but will be held as an asynchronous online class day. Please complete the following work BEFORE class on Friday, April 12.

For Friday (April 12)

April 12 (Friday)

Due Today

AI Development in the For-Profit Sector


  • Discussion of the article from The Atlantic by Fei-Fei Li
  • Working in pairs, students will find three key quotes in the article and share them in this online form
  • Other questions we will discuss:
    • What is the fourth industrial revolution?
    • What is meant by tech companies when they talk about the need to "move fast and break things?"
    • What would need to change for academia (universities and colleges) to be on a more equal footing with corporations in AI research? How could those changes be made? How compelling an argument is advanced by Dr. Li?

In-Class Activity #10: Peer Feedback on Class Ideas for Final Project

  • Class will review each other's ideas and each person will provide constructive feedback to each classmate via a shared Word document sent to Prof. Francoeur (who will in turn share back everyone's responses once they have all been turned in).
  • Things you should try to suggest to each person
    • Specific uses of AI in that person's chosen occupation that they should be thinking about
    • Ways that occupation may be threatened by job loss or jobs being notably changed or redefined
    • Is there particular industry or location for that occupation that might be particularly interesting to look into (e.g., if someone is interested in how AI is impacting mechanical engineering, maybe they should look into how that plays in within the automotive industry where robotics has long been a part of assembly lines in automotive factories
  • Start this in class and complete as homework by Monday, April 15.

April 15 (Monday)

Due Today

Job Loss, Growth, and Redefinitions

  • Prepare for in the in-class debate on Friday to argue whether or not AI poses a significant risk to jobs in the United States.
  • Listen to this podcast episode from Freaknomics Radio. Use the printed transcript (handout out in class) to highlight selected sections as you listen.

For Friday

  • Watch these two videos and make notes you'll use for the class debate


April 19 (Friday)

Due Today



  • Next class is Friday, May 3
  • Schedule your consultations
  • Updates to the guidelines to the presentation project
  • Homework #10

Does AI Pose Significant Risks for Job Loss in the United States

  • Class debate

Outsourcing Labor for Training AI Models

For May 3 (Friday)

In-Class Activity #11: copyright status of your generative AI prompts and outputs

  1. Watch these videos explaining basics of copyright and fair use
  2. Pick a generative AI service such as ChatGPT, Meta AI, Claude, Gemini, Quillbot, Suno (music generation), Microsoft Copilot, Stable Diffusion, Dall-E, etc.
  3. Look at the terms of service on the service's website to find answers to these questions:
    • Do you retain copyright of the prompts you enter?
    • What if anything does the AI system claim it can do with your prompts?
    • Do you have copyright for any output generated from your prompts? Does the AI system have copyright over it? Does anyone?
  4. In a brief essay (1-2 pages), discuss your findings for the three questions above. Please include quoted text or screenshots of relevant portions of the terms of service. Feel free to chat with the service's chatbot if you'd like to get answers but you must find and review the terms of service document as well for this assignment.