The Shard, London, United Kingdom photo by @gen035

The UK Artificial Intelligence Strategy and the Climate Crisis

How Focused is the UK AI Strategy on the Climate Crisis?

Talking to I realise ‘policy’ is not the most exciting word in casual discussions. Even at a governance or ethics tracks it does not seem like this word is the one that gets a crowd excited. On the other hand perhaps that depends on what ‘types’ of policy that you suggest to implement — discussing issues or areas for possible policy-making may not seem appropriately action oriented. Then again policy is a course or principle of action adopted or proposed, as such a framework for action. The British framework for action is the AI Sector Deal and it is in short what I will discuss in this article: how does it related to the climate crisis?

First off we can start by saying that despite being updated on the 21st of May 2019 the AI Sector Deal does not mention the word ‘climate’, it does not mention the word ‘crisis’ either for that sake. In terms of ‘environment’ it mentions this 19 times, but usually in the context of business environment. The word ‘sustainable’ is not mentioned a single time.

“Similarly, open environmental data has been used to create flood risk and water quality apps. To test the autonomous vehicles of the future we will need good quality 3D topographic data on road conditions and roadside obstacles.

Screenshot of the index retrieved the 8th of November 2019

Still they have been marked as falling within the security domain in terms of sustainability and still they received a marking in Toward AI Security, Jessica Cussins Newman’s report providing an overview of the different AI strategies. This grid was based on that strategy.

I would therefore say after having look at the AI Strategy from China and France in comparison that there is a great difference in the degree of focus on the climate change. None of the key policies towards the end of the British AI policy indicates anything regarding climate change.

I would like to write more, however there is not much more to write about regarding the current strategy.

There was a select committee appointed by the House of Lords.

It is very strange to see Lords, Viscounts and Baronesses examine artificial intelligence. It speaks to the current state of British policy-making. Seeing the prolonged Brexit negotiation is not an enlightening or bright process at all. Reading the current AI policy in the United Kingdom was equally drab.

In academia however one initiative that I find of interest is the Oxford Initiative on AI×SDGs. One possibility is for this initiative led by professor Luciano Floridi which lecture AI in Society — Opportunities and Risks you have to see. He is as well the Director of the Digital Ethics Lab of the Oxford Internet Institute. To consider itself successful I would argue the initiative has to influence at least the local strategy in the United Kingdom in a different direction.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 157. I write one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days.



AI Policy and Ethics at Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own.

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