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Demystifying AI

Wednesdays, 6:30 - 8:00 pm (PT) • 8 weeks • June 26 – August 14
Join us on campus or online!
Imagine a world where AI tutors adapt perfectly to your learning style, new drugs are discovered in record time, and job markets are created faster than ever before. Hidden within this whirlwind of progress are critical choices to be made about cost, data bias, and environmental impact. Join us this summer for an extraordinary journey into the complex landscape of AI, a realm of both breathtaking potential and profound ethical dilemmas.

We will use the AI Index report—an annual study of trends in AI from the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI)—as our guide. This rigorously vetted annual report tracks and distills the latest AI research. It captures the most pressing topics and relevant data that empower the decisions of everyone, from global leaders to the general public. These decisions shape AI’s future by prioritizing human well-being and societal benefit, which aligns with HAI’s mission to advance AI to improve the human condition.
Taught by HAI research manager and the index report’s editor-in-chief, Nestor Maslej, this course will explore some of AI’s most pressing topics. We’ll examine:
- Global investment trends and how they drive AI development
- AI’s role in both fighting and perpetuating inequality
- The hidden energy footprint of these complex systems
Alongside lectures, data, and research materials, we will welcome a diverse group of guest speakers. Join discussions with policymakers, researchers, journalists, and business executives who are actively shaping the future of AI. This course won’t just teach you about AI; it will empower you to become an active contributor.

Students can choose to attend this course on campus or online. Sign up for Section H if you think you might attend class on the Stanford campus at least once. There is no commitment—you can still choose to attend via Zoom for any session. Sign up for Section Z if you know you will exclusively attend via Zoom.

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Course Instructor
Nestor MaslejNestor Maslej
Research Manager, Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, Stanford

Nestor Maslej manages the AI Index and Global AI Vibrancy Tool at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI). His work on AI, namely the AI Index, has been cited in newspapers across the globe, including The New York Times, the Financial Times, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Vox, Al Jazeera, Fortune, Forbes, IEEE Spectrum, VentureBeat, and more. He is a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), where he regularly writes opinion pieces on developments in AI. Maslej's publications have informed AI policymaking worldwide. Before joining HAI, he worked in Toronto as an analyst in several startups. He received an MPhil in comparative government from the University of Oxford and a BA in social studies from Harvard.