Course Description

AI and automation have significantly changed the way business is done. We are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and have the opportunity to harness converging technologies to create an inclusive human-centered future. This course asks students to envision solutions that leverage tech to intentionally promote equitable economic mobility and to transform systems to benefit society. 


Students in the Designing Startups to Transform Society Challenge Lab will be immersed in an entrepreneurial journey to discover and develop disruptive business models for transforming society, addressing sustainability, and reimagining the future of work. From access to jobs, job skills, and upskilling, to innovative approaches to transforming education, climate, government, and businesses for the good of society, we need solutions that leverage technology to accelerate positive impact. 


Students will develop an understanding of the value and velocity of AI and disruptive technologies, understand the frameworks of ‘specialized’ vs ‘generalized’ intelligence; and explore ethical and inclusive innovation design. Students will explore complex societal challenges and invent startup solutions that leverage digital tech (e.g. data, ML, AI, IoT); prototype solutions; and explore customer ‘value’ models; all while gaining equal fluency in the cultural values and ethical principles that should ground and govern how these tools are designed and used.


Students interested in the course should attend one course information session to learn more and prepare for the semester ahead. Thursday January 4th from 9-9:30 am: zoom link, Tuesday, January 9th 9-9:30am zoom link.

About Challenge Labs

Challenge Labs are 4 unit courses for students of all academic backgrounds who seek a rigorous, interactive, team-based, and hands-on learning experience in entrepreneurship and technology. These courses use a unique pedagogy, The Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship, that involves the use of games, industry guest speakers, team exercises, videos and labs to cover the early part of the startup lifecycle. In these highly experiential courses, students form start-up teams to create technology solutions or services to address a broadly-defined problem posed by an industry partner or social challenge.



Anita Balaraman

Anita Balaraman is a scientist turned technology product manager and educator teaching technology product management to graduate students at UC Berkeley and now CMU. Over the last 10+ years, her experience in product management, product strategy & marketing, launching new products at WalmartLabs, Cisco and other ecommerce companies has focused on leveraging AI/ML and NLP related technologies. She describes herself as a hands-on product executive with a track record of conceptualizing the vision, strategy, building, and launching technology that combines machine learning, big data predictive analytics, and personalization. She is currently the founder & CEO of an ed-tech startup in silicon valley, CA, that evolved from an NSF-funded research on the state of higher education and the navigation to successful academic career paths. Anita received her Master’s in Science and a MBA from UC Berkeley.

kristina susac