AI for Good and the SDGs

Stahl, Bernd Carsten, Schroeder, Doris orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3633-2758 and Rodrigues, Rowena (2023) AI for Good and the SDGs. In: Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. Springer, pp. 95-106.

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In 2015, 193 nations came together to agree Agenda 2030: 17 goals ranging from the elimination of poverty to the building of partnerships to achieve those goals. The spirit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to leave no one behind. Artificial intelligence (AI) has a great potential to assist in reaching the SDGs. For instance, using algorithms on new and vast agricultural data sets can improve the efficiency of agriculture practices and thereby contribute to SDG 1, “Zero hunger”. However, the high energy consumption, computational resources and levels of expertise required for AI can exacerbate existing inequalities. At the same time, potentially useful AI applications such as seasonal climate forecasting have led to the accelerated laying off of workers in Peru and credit denial to poor farmers in Zimbabwe and Brazil. If AI for Good is to be truly realised, AI’s potential to worsen inequality, to overexploit resources, to be undertaken through “helicopter research” and to focus on SDG issues relevant mainly to high-income countries must be overcome, ideally in close collaboration and engagement with potential beneficiaries in resource-limited settings.

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