CCST5068 Science, Technology and Big Data
Artificial Intelligence: Utopia or Dystopia? (Online)


Course Description

[Lectures and tutorials of this course will be delivered online.]

[This is a certified Communication-intensive (CI) Course which meets all of the requirements endorsed by HKU’s Senate, including (i) the teaching assessment of written and oral communication ‘literacies’; and (ii) at least 40% of the course grade assigned to communication-rich assessment tasks.]

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a postulate about the future, but is already bringing noticeable impacts to our current society. Have you ever wondered how Netflix recommends your best movies? How does Instagram show you advertisements in a similar manner? How do the latest generative AI tools work? On a larger scale of decision-making and social change, will the AI revolution lead to a reform in our economy or a major disruption? Is it “simply” another Industrial Revolution? If AI, as some argue, can “think” in a human way, how can we ensure that AI maintains a similar ethical standard? This course will start by introducing what AI is, how it works, and then move on to its individual and social impact. We will explore existing or forthcoming applications of AI in different aspects of our lives, as well as in economic and social policy, and reflect on the ethical questions we will need to address critically.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand what AI is and evaluate how AI is different from traditional involvement of technology in novel scenarios.
  2. Evaluate how AI has already affected our lives in different aspects, analysing how it will affect us in the future and criticising the pros/cons of their impacts.
  3. To develop a proposal on how AI can be usefully applied for different careers or for daily life scenarios..

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 8
Reading / Self-study 32
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 20
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 20
Assessment: Debate presentation (incl preparation) 24
Total: 128

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Group project proposal 20
Group presentation 30
In-class participation 20
Debates 10
Tutorial participation 20

Required Reading

  • Bostrom, N. (2014). Superintelligence: Paths, dangers, strategies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kaplan, J. (2016). Artificial intelligence: What everyone needs to know. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr R.K.W. Lui
Faculty of Science
Tel: 3917 4399
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr R.K.W. Lui
Faculty of Science
Tel: 3917 4399