Mark Coeckelbergh from the Department of Philosophy is leading the project.

Description: Climate change is one of the most pressing crises of our time. Therefore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to mitigate climate change is being discussed as a promising opportunity. AI technologies can indeed help mitigate climate change, but they are also part of the problem due to their very high energy and resource consumption. In the project “AI and Climate Change”, Mark Coeckelbergh examines how AI can be applied, a) in an ethical and politically responsible way and b) in democratic systems without undermining the very foundations of democracy.

The project investigates the ethical aspects of using AI in the context of climate change, such as the various trade-offs between social and environmental impacts, and between present and future interests. It also examines the issue through the lens of political philosophy. To be used effectively to mitigate climate change, these technologies must be used either to enforce restrictions that prohibit climate-damaging practices or to nudge people toward more climate-friendly behavior. Both impinge on people’s freedom and liberty, either by interfering with their ability to do what they want (in the case of restrictions) or by undermining their autonomy (in the case of nudging). Freedom and liberty are cherished democratic values that need to be protected, not undermined. This project explores how this can be done, while still being able to effectively use AI technologies to protect the climate in democratic systems.

Duration: 2020 – ongoing