The urgency and scale of the climate crisis can be overwhelming and occasionally immobilizing: your mind just blanks at the complexity of the challenge. To overcome this and identify positive actions that we can and must take to be able to transition towards a sustainable internet, we find that visualizing an alternative future in which you’ve been successful helps to trace back the steps for how to get to where you want to be.
In a series of foresight workshops that take their inspiration from our art project “The Museum of the Fossilized Internet, 2050”, we intend to convene diverse, interdisciplinary groups to explore different facets of this future. A pilot workshop in August 2020 will take a closer look at policy options, tapping into the idea of trustworthy AI and sustainability in the context of the EU’s upcoming AI policy.
Additional foresight workshops will explore actions for technologists, business leaders, and funders. And if you have additional ideas or interested in running similar workshops, please do reach out, we’re happy to connect with you and support the facilitation of your efforts.
Pilot Policy Workshop: Sustainability and Trustworthy AI
The world will cross the 1.5 degree warming threshold in 2024, quicker than previously estimated, forecasts the UN World Meteorological Organization. We have three and a half years to dramatically cut our emissions. We need sustainable systems, and we need them now.
We describe sustainability as a healthy environment, economic well-being, and social connection. We are particularly interested in reducing the internet’s significant emissions while advocating to keep this global public resource open and accessible to all. It is essential that the internet advances healthy, sustainable practices.
Increasingly, our online lives are affected by artificial intelligence systems. If we want a healthy internet—and a healthy digital society—we need to make sure AI is trustworthy. For AI to be trustworthy, we need AI that is demonstrably worthy of trust. " Privacy, transparency, and human well-being are key considerations, and there is accountability for harms.
We must meet the moment of the climate crisis now—in the era of AI. This means bringing two currently separate conversations together: understanding the impact of greenhouse gases and identifying the main emitters and addressing the biases and civil rights concerns raised with the presently dominant implementations of AI. Both affect everyone and cause significant harm to already vulnerable people and communities.
To link trustworthy AI to climate justice, we must expand our understanding of human well-being and AI harms. Research demonstrates how AI intensifies energy consumption and AI systems developed by major tech companies (Amazon, Microsoft and more) are used to speed up extraction of oil and other natural resources. Tech companies are announcing ambitious climate plans, often following pressure and mobilization from their workforce. But none of these efforts take full account of the harms caused by their AI systems.
To understand the environmental harms caused by AI and situate these in a larger context of internet health and the climate crisis, we are convening an interdisciplinary group. We seek to demand AI systems that are trustworthy and sustainable. “Collective liberation and ecological sustainability,” as described by Sasha Costanza-Chock in their book Design Justice, will be a guiding vision.
With these findings, we will develop a stronger call for sustainable and trustworthy AI that translates into policies and organizational agendas. We will pursue constructive approaches along the way, such as sustainability engineering and sustainability by design, aiming to create blueprints for others to build on.
We will focus this first convening on the policy window in Europe as the European Commission defines its AI strategy, climate agenda and COVID recovery plans. This moment offers a strategic opportunity to advance trustworthy AI and climate justice in the summer of 2020.
This workshop series is an initiative from Mozilla’s Environmental Champions as part of Mozilla’s Sustainability Programme. Facilitated by Michelle Thorne and Fieke Jansen.