Is artificial intelligence smart enough to create a sustainable future?

November 2, 2022

Is artificial intelligence smart enough to create a sustainable future?

Sjoerd Bakker
November 2, 2022

Is artificial intelligence smart enough to create a sustainable future?

Despite a hefty ecological footprint of its own, digital technology has the potential to contribute to a more sustainable future.
Sjoerd Bakker
November 2, 2022
Is artificial intelligence smart enough to create a sustainable future?
Sjoerd Bakker
Maya Turolla
November 2, 2022
Design by local_doctor. © Shutterstock

Despite a hefty ecological footprint of its own, digital technology has the potential to contribute to a more sustainable future. A recent study highlights the fact that AI is particularly suited to make existing processes more sustainable. By analyzing tons of data from operational plants and factories, AI systems are able to control processes much more precisely than human operators can and, in doing so, save energy and other resources and reduce waste.

While optimizing existing processes is a good thing, in most cases such incremental improvements are not sufficient to make processes truly sustainable. To do so, more radical innovation, i.e. transformation, is needed and that requires genuine creativity; to think outside the box of known equations and parameters and to come up with ‘fantastic’ solutions. Going forward, the question is thus whether data, AI and other digital tools can contribute such a creative process? In that respect, the recent surge of ‘creative’ AI’s is promising, although human input will nevertheless remain essential.

Burning questions
  • Can current ‘creative’ AI’s already deliver valuable answers to serious problems, when working together with humans?
  • Should the intelligence of AI be used to minimize the footprint of digital systems themselves?

About the author(s)
Sjoerd Bakker frequently writes about the power and danger of digital technology, as well as sustainability in both technological and institutional innovation. At the think tank, he is mainly involved in research and consultancy projects for clients, and strategic and thematic research for sister company Dasym.
You may also like