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Credit: Isabel Liang

A new course, Artificial Intelligence for Business, will be offered by Wharton to undergraduate and MBA students in 2021. An online version of the course launched on Feb. 20.

Artificial Intelligence for Business will be the first course to be fully dedicated to studying AI in a business context, said Kartik Hosanagar, a John C. Hower Professor of Technology and Digital Business. Hosanagar, who will be teaching the course, said he believes the new program will allow students who were not previously experienced with AI to become familiar with the field. 

He said the curriculum will cover the importance of big data, the use of machine learning, and other forms of AI in business. 

An online version of the course, also taught by Hosanagar, launched on Feb. 20. The online course is a four-week certification program for working business professionals, according to Wharton Newsroom. 

Although the online and in-person courses cover similar topics, the in-person course will be more comprehensive and will cover more substantive material. 

Hosanagar said the first section of the in-person course will introduce students to the concept of AI and big data, with a hands-on analysis of some of the algorithms that businesses use. The second section will go over the applications of AI in existing businesses, as well as new businesses that will be created by AI, like self-driving cars. The final section will address the effect AI will have on government regulation of business, consumers, and society. 

Kartik Hosanagar, a John C. Hower Professor of Technology and Digital Business, will be teaching the course.

Hosanagar is a 10-time recipient of Wharton undergraduate and MBA teaching awards. He has mentored student entrepreneurs and invested in student start ups, such as Yodle, a startup advertising company. He has previously written about AI and one of the inspirations behind the course was his book, A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence, which was released last year.

“The goal of the book was to introduce AI to non-technical people," Hosanagar said. "A lot of the language I use [in the course] is borrowed from the book."

Although the book covered the effects of AI on citizens, Hosanagar said it did not cover the effects on business managers.

“AI has become fundamental to business, similar to the Internet or Cloud computing,” Hosanagar said. 

He said the business world has changed and will continue to change because of AI. He said industries, like shipping and medicine, rely on AI to stock warehouses or provide diagnoses and note taking services. 

Hosanagar said student demand also played a role in making the course a reality. 

“Multiple students have approached me displaying interest in AI from a non-engineering perspective,” Hosanagar said.

Wharton and Engineering junior Will Morgus said it made sense for a course to have an exclusive focus on AI.

“None of our courses are specifically geared towards using AI in a business context,” Morgis said. He said he believed this course would be relevant for newer Wharton students who have not yet declared a concentration.

Hosanagar said Artificial Intelligence for Business is part of a larger initiative to expand student understanding of AI.

“My conjecture is that AI will enable drastic changes in consumer, social, and business life,” Hosanagar said. “It is vital we understand this.”