Sustainable AI

AI for Sustainability and the Sustainability of AI.


AI can be an important tool for sustainable development. There is an almost overwhelming number of recent publications showing the various ways in which AI can be used for the sustainable development goals. However, these uses may come with a cost – a cost that is yet to be thoroughly assessed, evaluated and balanced. This cost can concern the environment – like carbon emissions generated while training and tuning AI models – or people more directly – like power asymmetries between those that do and do not have access to the technology – or, of course and ultimately, both at once. For this reason, Prof van Wynsberghe from the University of Bonn, supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Institute for Science and Ethics, is launching the world’s first conference on the topic of Sustainable AI.

The aim of this Sustainable AI conference is to get researchers talking about the environmental, social and economic costs of designing, developing, and using AI. The discussion will be directed at exploring the: normative grounding of the value of sustainability; the strength of the concept of sustainability; how to measure environmental costs of AI; understanding the intergenerational impacts of AI; and, informing public policy guidelines for the green, proportionate and sustainable development and use of AI.

The conference will be interdisciplinary and welcomes contributions from computer sciences, philosophy, (applied) AI ethics, social sciences, law and policy, and others. There will be a variety of events including but not limited to: presentations by thought leaders in this space, the unveiling of an art installation by Thijs Biersteker on the topic of Sustainable AI, and a panel organized by the World Economic Forum Global Council for AI and Humanity on the topic of intergenerational issues.

We invite researchers in this area to present their work during this three-day virtual conference. Interested researchers are invited to address any of the following topics (list not exclusive):

  • Measuring carbon emissions of training and tuning AI models
  • Green AI
  • AI and smart cities
  • AI and sustainability impact assessments
  • AI and sustainable policy
  • AI and sustaining human rights
  • Sustainable AI and power dynamics
  • AI and intergenerational justice/issues
  • Normative grounding of Sustainability as a value to steer AI

How to join

Interested researchers are invited to submit a title and abstract of their talk by April 23, 2021 to Abstracts should be between 600-900 words, including references. If accepted, researcher(s) will be asked to present their work at the conference. A selection of speakers will be asked to contribute to an edited volume on the topic.

When and Where

The conference will be held virtually on June 15, 16 and 17 from 13:00 to 17:00 each day. Presenters are kindly requested to join these sessions to build an ongoing dialogue.

Participant Registration

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Aimee van Wynsberghe

Aimee van Wynsberghe has been working in ICT and robotics since 2004. She began her career as part of a research team working with surgical robots in Canada at CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies and Advance Robotics). She is the Alexander von Humboldt Professor for Applied Ethics of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Bonn in Germany. Aimee is co-founder and co-director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics and on the board of the Institute for Accountability in a Digital Age. She is a 2018 L'Oreal Unesco 'For Women in Science' laureate. Aimee also serves as a member of the European Commission's High-Level Expert Group on AI and is a founding board member of the Netherlands AI Alliance. She is a founding editor for the international peer-reviewed journal AI & Ethics (Springer Nature) and a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Futures Council on Artificial Intelligence and Humanity. Aimee has been named one of the Netherlands top 400 influential women under 38 by VIVA and was named one of the 25 ‘women in robotics you need to know about’. She is author of the book Healthcare Robots: Ethics, Design, and Implementation and has been awarded an NWO personal research grant to study how we can responsibly design service robots. She has been interviewed by BBC, Quartz, Financial Times, and other International news media on the topic of ethics and robots, and is often invited to speak at International conferences and summits.


LArissa Bolte

Larissa Bolte is currently a master’s student of philosophy at the University of Bonn and a student assistant at the Institute for Science and Ethics. Larissa graduated from the University of Bonn with a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and psychology in 2019 having completed the Honors Program in 2019 as well. Larissa has worked at the German Reference Centre for Ethics in the Life Sciences for more than 1,5 years as a research assistant. She has also been working as a tutor for both moral philosophy and logic at the University of Bonn and co-organizes the “InterChair Kolloquium”, a well-established and student-run colloquium at the university’s philosophy department.