The globalization of artificial intelligence: consequences for the politics of environmentalism

The globalization of artificial intelligence is supercharging the technological base of the world order. What are the consequences of the rising power of AI for environmentalism? Machine learning and intelligent robotics can advance environmental knowledge and conservation. Yet other AI technologies – from facial recognition to automated online surveillance – can enhance the power of states and corporations to suppress activism. The consequences of AI for environmentalism are highly variable, empowering some campaigns and depowering others. Still, a broad pattern is discernible. Going forward, AI technologies would seem set to advance technocratic, incremental, and moderate forms of environmentalism while hampering confrontational tactics and grassroots resistance, especially in authoritarian states. At the same time, AI is going to spur wasteful consumption, natural resource extraction, and the production of electronic waste. The globalization of AI, as these findings reveal, is set to unsettle the politics of environmentalism, doing some good, but bringing many dangers.

Dauvergne, Peter. 2021. “The Globalization of Artificial Intelligence: Consequences for the Politics of Environmentalism.” Globalizations 18 (2): 285–99. https://doi.org/10.1080/14747731.2020.1785670.

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