The digital future is built on data. Artificial intelligence, self-learning algorithms and automated assisted decision-making all rely on data for their programming and operation. It is claimed that these new applications will revolutionise mobility, work, health and inclusion while increasing prosperity. Data-driven technologies are hoped to be a game-changer for a more sustainable world.
But will these claims be fulfilled? That remains to be seen. Often, there is a gap in the data required for sustainable applications, or high-value datasets are controlled by corporations or other agencies. Lack of access to these data to run key applications may make it impossible to capitalise on the sustainability potential of digitalisation, with harmful technologies possibly taking hold instead. So the question of which criteria should be applied and for which purpose data may be collected and used will determine the direction of travel in a sustainable digital transformation.
The Oeko-Institut’s researchers are developing proposals which show how data governance and regulation can respect privacy rights, meet economic needs and support the policy agenda while also promoting an environmentally sustainable society.