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AI, Sustainability and Agenda 2030

October 4, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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WASP-HS Community Reference Meetings (CRMs) are a space for learning and collaboration, providing public and private organizations in Sweden opportunities to learn about challenges and questions of their interest, and for WASP-HS to share recent research development within the program and identify opportunities for collaboration. 

Multidisciplinary collaborations that extend beyond the realm of technology play a crucial role in harnessing AI as a catalyst for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While AI’s proficiency in processing data and projecting trends is undeniably valuable, its true potential is realized through synergy with insights from the humanities and social sciences.. By infusing AI advancements with social and cultural considerations, we ensure that solutions are contextually relevant, ethically sound, and socially inclusive. Such a holistic approach enhances our ability to address the complex challenges of realising the SDGs, from climate action to poverty eradication, and fosters a deeper understanding of the human implications of technological interventions, thereby propelling us towards a more sustainable and harmonious world. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the unchecked deployment of AI in SDG initiatives could potentially exacerbate inequalities, threaten privacy, and deepen the digital divide, underscoring the need for responsible AI governance and comprehensive risk assessments.

This holistic approach enhances our ability to address the complex challenges of realising the SDGs, from climate action to poverty eradication, and fosters a deeper understanding of the human implications of technological interventions, thereby propelling us towards a more sustainable and harmonious world. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the unchecked deployment of AI in SDG initiatives could potentially exacerbate inequalities, threaten privacy, and deepen the digital divide, underscoring the need for responsible AI governance and comprehensive risk assessments.

In the context of this Community Reference Meeting, WASP-HS researchers, in collaboration with other scholars and practitioners, will engage in discussions encompassing these and other pertinent issues regarding AI’s contribution to realizing the SDGs. 

Program and Roundtables

Please note that the whole event takes place online via Zoom and is held in English.

13.00 – Introduction by Virginia Dignum, Professor in Responsible AI at Umeå University

13.10-13.45 – Keynote and Q&A 

Keynote title: The role of artificial intelligence in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Keynote: Ricardo Vinuesa, Associate Professor, Vice Director of KTH Digitalization Platform, Lead Faculty at KTH Climate Action Centre, KTH Engineering Mechanics, Stockholm (Sweden)

Keynote abstract: The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and its progressively wider impact on many sectors requires an assessment of its effect on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Using a consensus-based expert elicitation process, we find that AI can enable the accomplishment of 134 targets across all the goals, but it may also inhibit 59 targets. However, current research foci overlook important aspects. The fast development of AI needs to be supported by the necessary regulatory insight and oversight for AI-based technologies to enable sustainable development. Failure to do so could result in gaps in transparency, safety, and ethical standards.

13.45-15.30 – Roundtable discussions

To Monitor is to Manage – or Not? Which Data Do We Need to Reach the Environmental SDGs?

Chair: Sabine Höhler, Professor of Science and Technology Studies at KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Co-Chair: Adam Wickberg, Docent of History of Science, Technology and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract What are the gains and what are the shortcomings of grounding our understanding of the environment increasingly on data generated by monitoring tools and fed into digital information processing systems? From autonomous sensor networks to satellite surveillance systems, new AI-based technologies are employed to outsmart environmental changes that often are anthropogenic in origin. If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it, was Lord Kelvin’s famous insight in the late 19th century. Today, with the new digital tools at hand, the expectation seems even more pervasive that better technology will lead to better data which in turn will lead to better environments. But does this equation hold? Will better data help us reach our sustainability goals?

The roundtable aims to discuss how environmental data inform the Sustainable Development Goals, from heavily sensed environments to data-driven decisions. What are better data? How should they be mined, stored, processed, analyzed, communicated, consumed, and commercialized? What can we measure in the in the first place, and what do we avoid addressing? Who owns and controls environmental data, how are they governed, and how do they affect environmental policymaking? What kind of environmental narratives do they inspire? And vice versa, how do the sustainability goals affect environmental data production? Which kind of institutions do they require and entail? What would we need to develop and reach responsible and inclusive sustainability goals?

Accountability Beyond AI – Thinking of Tools in the Hands of Humans

Chair: Ericka Johnson, Professor of Gender Studies at Linköping University
Co-Chair: Jonas Ivarsson, Professor in Informatics at University of Gothenburg

Abstract Many of the SDG for 2030 could be made more difficult to attain by the implementation of AI solutions that benefit rich nations, powerful actors and Capital, or which demand extensive resources for technical development, manufacturing, transportation to market, use and data storage, for example:

Goal 8: “Promote sustained, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all”.
Goal 10: “Reduce inequality in and among countries”.
Goal 13: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”

What responsibility do institutions and individuals in society have to prevent these negative consequences? And which institutions and individuals should we hold accountable for this?

Charting the Future of Sustainable Health: Navigating AI, Digitized Bodies, and Care

Chair: Pedro Sanches, Assistant Professor in Human-Centerered Artificial Intelligence at Umeå University
Co-Chair: Teresa Almeida, Associate Professor in Human-Computer Interaction

Abstract This roundtable explores AI’s role in sustainable healthcare. We start by asking: when bodies become data, how should they be treated, processed, and circulated? But more crucially, with the emergence of AI-driven biotechnologies and predictive medicine, which bodies might we be caring for in 2030? Considering SDGs more broadly, how does AI impact human healthcare’s planetary costs? Whose needs and ways of caring are overlooked in tech-driven futures? And how can we shape more resilient and equitable futures?

15.30-16.00 – Planetary Discussions

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Details

Date:
October 4, 2023
Time:
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Venue

Online via Zoom