ID-2132-01 - Creative Applications of Machine Learning
Spring 2019
3 Credit Seminar
Mondays, 1:10PM - 4:10PM
161 South Main Street, Room 601


Seth Kranzler

Course Description

This course will introduce students to the subject of machine learning and its applications in the field of design, particularly for creating interactive applications on the web. Students will gain a top-level understanding of the history and current state of machine learning, as well as an understanding of the frontiers of data organization and style transfer for image, video, and audio.

During the course, students will learn how to build interactive systems using a variety of inputs including web cameras, datasets, and audio streams. This course will also explore the philosophical and moral implications of emerging machine learning technologies and their impact on society at large. Valid outcomes from the course may be tools, products, or art, and may focus on practical or conceptual/critical applications.

This course will not cover, nor assumes knowledge of, the technical or mathematical details of machine learning. Instead, it will focus on how to integrate available tools into existing interactive applications. While no specific knowledge of ML or programming experience is required, you should consider yourself “good with computers” and any familiarity with HTML/CSS/Javascript will be helpful.

This course borrows from the following amazing syllabi

Tentative Course Schedule

Office Hours

Given that I live in NYC and commute on Mondays, office hours will be by appointment only and will generally be held during the one hour period before class and two hour period after class.

Course Goals

Students will learn to think creatively about emerging machine learning technology in order to develop new and exciting interactive applications.

Student Learning Outcomes

Concept projects that use interactivity, machine learning, and code in a creative way
Demonstrate a knowledge of the fundamentals of machine learning
Develop two projects in machine learning using the provided resources
Demonstrate the ability to research and learn unfamiliar technical topics
Effectively debug and problem solve broken code
Develop an understanding of the moral, ethical, and societal impacts of machine learning

Course Organization and Requirements

The course structure will typically be as follows:

Opening group discussion of the readings
Lecture period leading up to coding session
A coding session where we learn to implement the tools from the lecture period

This course will consist of weekly readings, in class discussions, workshops, and a midterm and final project. The purpose of the projects is to demonstrate new skills learned in the weeks previous and can be done solo or in groups of up to three students. Projects will culminate in brief crits/demo days - entire classes which will be devoted to showing work.

Course Policies and Expectations


RISD policy on absences assumes student maturity and responsibility for their own behavior, but also assumes that students will communicate their intentions and circumstances to their instructor. Unexcused absences are considered “cuts.”

A student who “cuts” the first class meeting, or any two or more class meetings, may be removed from the course by the Registrar, if the instructor so requests. The student is either dropped from a course, given a grade of “W,” or a grade of “F,” depending upon when the instructor made the request. Requests received during the Add/Drop period will result in a class drop; receipt during the Course Withdrawal Period will result in the posting of a final grade of “W” to the student’s record, and receipt after the Withdrawal deadline will result in a final grade of “F”. Due to the nature of one-credit course schedules, any absences may result in a student being removed from the course by the Registrar, if the instructor so requests. The student is either dropped from a course, given a grade of “W,” or a grade of “F,” depending upon when the instructor made the request.

Missing Work

Late work will be graded with a 5 point deduction for each day it is late.

Academic Code of Conduct

Code is not written in a bubble, so there should be no shame in looking up and copying examples in order to achieve the assignments for this class. However, submitting the work of another as your own still counts as plagiarism. Anyone caught submitting a substantially similar work without proper attribution will be reported to the department head and dean with further action at their discretion.

Below is the university policy on academic misconduct:

RISD seeks to help its students realize their fullest intellectual, artistic, and personal potential through a distinctive combination of studio and liberal arts courses. The College values the creative process and freedom of expression. The College also honors its responsibility to protect the values and standards of an academic community.

The College recognizes the need for risk-taking and experimentation in a challenging art, design, and liberal arts education. Moreover, the long history of appropriation, subversion, and other means of challenging convention in the arts may, at times, complicate attempts to definitively codify forms of acknowledgement/attribution. That said, forms of experimentation that do challenge these boundaries must at all times adhere to the fundamental value underlying academic conduct at RISD: honesty in the creation and presentation of one’s work as well as in one’s relations to others and their work.

Academic writing must follow conventions of documentation and citation. Others’ ideas—whether quoted directly or paraphrased, whether taken from a book, website, or lecture—must be clearly attributed both to provide a record of the writer’s research and to avoid plagiarism, or presenting another’s ideas as one’s own. Liberal Arts faculty will often explicitly address documentation expectations, including preferred styles, in class.

In the studio culture, the conventions governing the use and reference to others’ work are less clearly defined than in academic writing. These conventions are often defined by particular disciplinary histories and practices and are best addressed in the context of the particular studio experience. Given the wide variety of disciplinary histories, conventions, traditions, and practices applicable to liberal arts and studio activities, the individual faculty member defines, within reason, what constitutes academic misconduct within the context of a given course.

Definitions of Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct compromises the academic integrity of the College and subverts the educational process. Primary, but not exclusive, kinds of such misconduct are:


The use of unauthorized information, study aids or other materials, communication with, or copying from another student on papers, projects, tests, or other academic work. It is the responsibility of students to consult with their faculty concerning what materials and types of collaboration are permissible.


The passing off of someone else’s ideas, writing, or work as one’s own is plagiarism. Appropriate methods and forms of attribution vary by discipline. Some courses will include instruction in appropriate conventions for citation and attribution within the field. Students are expected to seek out relevant guidelines on their own (the RISD Writing Center offers resources and guidance), to ask faculty when in doubt about standards, and to recognize that they are ultimately responsible for proper citation.

Falsification and Fabrication

The attribution of information or material included in one’s work to a false or fabricated source, or the falsification or fabrication of the information or materials themselves.

Unauthorized Reuse

The submission of work to satisfy requirements for one course that has previously been submitted for another course. Students are expected to create new work in specific response to each assignment, unless expressly authorized to do otherwise.

Unfair Academic Advantage

For purposes of the Academic Code of Conduct, Unfair Academic Advantage is the theft, destruction, or defacement of, or other interference with the work of other students for the purpose of gaining academic advantage. This includes but is not limited to the engagement in activities that place other students at an academic disadvantage, such as theft, concealment, or alteration of needed resources or other materials; or other manipulation of the academic system in one’s favor.

Noncompliance with Course Expectations

The violation of specific course expectations set forth in a syllabus or otherwise provided to the student by the instructor whether verbal or written.

Grading Policy


Grade of W
The grade of W may be issued by RISD to a student who officially withdraws from a course within the applicable deadline. There is no academic penalty, but the grade will appear on the student transcript.

Grade of Incomplete
A grade of incomplete (“I”) is assigned to signify temporary deferment of a regular final letter grade. It is used sparingly in compelling situations when a student is not able to complete work in the course by the end of the semester due to extenuating circumstances beyond the ability of the student to predict and control. Assignment of an incomplete grade presumes both that the student will be able to complete the coursework in the timeframe established below and that the instructor will be able to review the completed work in that timeframe.

Disability Statement

Rhode Island School of Design is committed to providing equal opportunity for all students. If you are a student with a disability that may require accommodations to complete the requirements of this class, I encourage you to discuss your learning needs with me during the first week of the term. Once an approval letter from the Office of Disability Support Services is submitted, accommodations will be provided as needed. For more information on how to receive accommodations, please contact Disability Support Services at (401)709-8460 or

Diversity/Civility Statement

The RISD community is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the development of integrity. In order to thrive and excel, this community must preserve the freedom of thought and expression of all its members. A culture of respect that honors the rights, safety, dignity, and worthof every individual is essential to preserve such freedom. We affirm our respect for the rights and well- being of all members.


The ID department requires that I collect images from all students that “best represents their work”. This has to be submitted by May 24, 2019.

The portfolio requirements are as follow: