DATA 104 Overview

Spring 2020 Course syllabus

Fall 2020 Course syllabus


First lecture of Data 104 in the Fall 2019 semester in Li Ka Shing Auditorium

First lecture of DATA 104 in the Fall 2019 semester.

Data-driven services and artificial intelligence-powered devices now shape the innumerable aspects of our lives. Beneath the surface of these technologies, computational and increasingly autonomous techniques that operate on large, ever-evolving datasets are revolutionizing how people act in and know the world. These new tools, systems, and infrastructures have profound consequences for how we think of ourselves, relate to one another, organize collective life, and envision desirable futures. At the same time as data technologies shape social life, they are products of historical and institutional dynamics, deep-rooted social structures and political cultures that bear the marks of human intentions, interests, and desires. 

This course teaches students to use the tools of applied historical thinking and Science, Technology, and Society (STS) to recognize, analyze, and shape the human contexts and ethics of data. It prepares students to engage as knowledgeable, skillful, and responsible citizens and professionals in the varied areas of our datafied world. 

Students will learn:

  • How do cultures and values inform how data-driven tools are developed and deployed?

  • How does data science transform how people live and how societies function?

  • What assumptions about social good do data-enabled algorithms and tools carry with them? What social structures are embedded in them and with what consequences?

  • What projections does AI make in the future?

  • How can we shape the outcomes we want to see?

The Making of Data 104

Originally created in 2018 to serve the Data Science Education Program, Data 104 brings concepts from the research frontier down to an undergraduate level, in a compelling and interactive way. The course is connected in content to the other Data Science Backbone courses, and designed with them in mind. 

The pedagogical framework includes strategies for teaching reading and writing, an emphasis on engaging students' own values and the discussion of these values among the course community of peers and instructors.  

Data 104 is designed to be broadly accessible and serve students from all disciplines and concentrations who are interested in understanding life in the datafied world. The class imposes no prerequisites so students can take it at any point in their UC Berkeley studies.

Please visit to learn more about Human Contexts and Ethics Program at Berkeley or the Data 104 Syllabus for more information about the course.