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Artificial intelligence and climate change: ethical issues

Reference Type: 

Journal Article

Nordgren, Anders. 2022. “Artificial Intelligence and Climate Change: Ethical Issues.” Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society ahead-of-print (ahead-of-print).

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to pinpoint and analyse ethical issues raised by the dual role of artificial intelligence (AI) in relation to climate change, that is, AI as a contributor to climate change and AI as a contributor to fighting climate change. Design/methodology/approach This paper consists of three main parts. The first part provides a short background on AI and climate change respectively, followed by a presentation of empirical findings on the contribution of AI to climate change. The second part presents proposals by various AI researchers and commentators on how AI companies may contribute to fighting climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from training and use of AI and by providing AI assistance to various mitigation and adaptation measures. The final part investigates ethical issues raised by some of the options presented in the second part. Findings AI applications may lead to substantial emissions but may also play an important role in mitigation and adaptation. Given this dual role of AI, ethical considerations by AI companies and governments are of vital importance. Practical implications This paper pinpoints practical ethical issues that AI companies and governments should take into account. Social implications Given the potential impact of AI on society, it is vital that AI companies and governments take seriously the ethical issues raised by the dual role of AI in relation to climate change. Originality/value AI has been the subject of substantial ethical investigation, and even more so has climate change. However, the relationship between AI and climate change has received only limited attention from an ethical perspective. This paper provides such considerations.

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