Class Description

Spring 2020

[INF 350E] Information Technology : Blockchain and the Decentralized Economy

Unique ID: 27528 Bettina Warburg
9:00 am - 12:00 pm Syllabus
UTA 1.208

DESCRIPTION

Design and use of information technologies, including interface design, trends in information technology development, usability, information retrieval, immersive media, and information architecture. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Information Studies 350E and 350W may not both be counted unless the topics vary.

*Co-taught with Tom Serres. Partially taught online. See notes below. Meets with graduate-level INF 385T, topic: Blockchain and the Decentralized Economy The course will meet each week for 3 hours over the semester, and sessions will consist of a combination of face-to-face meetings and online webinars (both synchronous and asynchronous). Each session will include lecture-based content and discussion on selected topics, expert guest lectures, and product/startup building. At the end of the semester, students will be graded on their ability to pitch and present their startup idea, the relevant empirical research supporting their ideas, and a succinct business plan for taking their idea to market.

COURSE NOTES

Built on the back of a blockchain computing stack, this course will focus on topics and research key to the transition to a decentralized economy. We will cover the dynamics of emerging technologies, highlight new ideas from leading entrepreneurs and researchers shaping this future, and provide students with an opportunity to build their research into a product or startup. Students will use lean methodologies and anchor their approach in content covered through the course. The course will meet each week for 3 hours over the semester, and sessions will consist of a combination of face-to-face meetings and online webinars (both synchronous and asynchronous). Sessions will include a mix of lecture-based content and discussion on selected topics, expert guest lectures, and product/startup building. At the end of the semester, students will be graded on their ability to pitch and present their startup idea, the relevant empirical research supporting their ideas, and a succinct business plan for taking their idea to market. The shift towards a decentralized economy is in full swing. Emerging technologies like Blockchain, AI/ML, and IoT are combining to radically change the way we engage with the economy, and are forcing us to rethink our businesses and societal interactions. At the heart of this new economy, is a new blockchain-based computing stack, that allows not just humans, but machines to transact products, services, and information. This course will take a practitioner’s approach to explaining these complex (and confusing) technologies, grounding our understanding in how they’re evolving, and why they’re paving the way for a future where machines represent a new consumer class: 50-billion devices armed with wallets and purchasing power. This future will transcend age-old models of commerce, supply chain, information management, finance, and governance to create something far more interesting: a distributed, transparent, and autonomous infrastructure for the decentralized exchange of value. Throughout the course we will focus on topics and research key to the transition to a decentralized economy, hearing from leading entrepreneurs and researchers shaping these new opportunities. Topics will include an introduction to blockchain and its economic context, the technology stack of the decentralized economy, smart contracts, specific networks (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dfinity, etc.), business use cases, regulatory considerations, and more. To help students apply this knowledge, the course also provides students the opportunity to practice the art of building startup projects through lean methodologies, anchored in the topic of decentralization of trade. Progressing from individual research to user interviews, peer review, and eventually prototyping, students will gain valuable experience in taking an idea from inception to pitching. Part “big idea course” on where information and economics combine, part “startup bootcamp,” students will come away with both a framework for thinking about the future, and a concrete final project that helps envisage that future.

PREREQUISITES

Upper-division standing. Additional prerequisites may vary with the topic.