The Data Pollution & Power (DPP) Initiative explores the power dynamics that shape the data pollution of AI across the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We examine the data of AI as a human and natural resource in data eco-systems of power and consider actions and governance approaches that are intrinsically interrelated in systems of power and interests. The initiative is led by the independent senior researcher Gry Hasselbalch.
It is set up at the Bonn University’s Institute for Science and Ethics’ Sustainable AI Lab.
SEPTEMBER 22, 2021:
NOVEMBER 24, 2021:
FEBRUARY 16, 2022:
13:30 - 16:00
APRIL 27, 2022:
13:30 - 16:00
The Mozilla Foundation's Data Futures Lab:
More to come!
DATA POLLUTION & POWER - White Paper for a Global Sustainable Development Agenda on AI (July, 2022)
Data Pollution is to the big data age what smog was to the industrial age. Our response to data pollution will develop much like our reaction to traditional forms of pollution—just much faster and hopefully with dedication and great force. This white paper describes a nascent environmental data pollution movement. It frames data pollution in the context of powers and interests exploring eight domains in which data pollution has the greatest impact: Nature, Science & Innovation, Democracy, Human Rights, Infrastructure, Decision-Making, Global Opportunities, and Time. The main objective is to ensure that data pollution of AI in particular is included in the global sustainable development agenda.
Download the white paper here.
I was thinking about the way in which the concept of ‘sustainability’ was articulated in response to the adverse impact on our physical environment in the Industrial Age and how this took form over the last 50 years. This idea of tackling something very concrete like pollution became a driver for entire new legal and policy frameworks, national and international environmental laws; it transformed industries, like the car industry, and drove forward the development of new industries and sciences, like ‘green tech’. We are in a similar process right now when it comes to data pollution. We have had policy and public debates on the privacy and social implications of big data since the early 2000s, we are having more serious conversations about the carbon foot prints of data storage and processing, and we have also in society started a conversation about the main power actors in this field. However, there is very little awareness about data pollution as an ‘environmental problem’ or as a disturbance of an entire ‘eco system’. What we need is a new green movement for data pollution, but for this to happen, we need a better understanding of the power dynamics that shape the field across different data pollution issues. Because power struggles and negotiations are core components of sociotechnical change and governance.
There are a lot of interests invested in the data of AI, and also a lot of hype about how AI can transform not only humanity, but the entire planetary eco-system for the better with the development of AI to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Here, I really like the way you, Aimee, frame the power dynamics of this debate by emphasising the sustainability of AI instead of just for sustainability. Can you tell me more about this?
Interview with Gry Hasselbalch (April 2022)