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AI Circular Economy

Research shows our current model of a “linear economy” is unsustainable as the consumption rate is 50% faster than replacement (Siegel & Bautista, 2014) . The “circular economy” (CE) has been recommended as an alternative to conceptualize the integration of economic activity with environmental concerns in a sustainable way. CE is characterized by keeping resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value whilst in use, and recovering or regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life.

From algorithmic decision-making to robots and digital twins, artificial intelligence can play a vital role in achieving circular business models in industries such as energy, manufacturing and agriculture. However, these initiatives raise a number of ethical questions and implications regarding data privacy, algorithmic bias, and determinism. Without considering these issues, on our pursuit of environmental goals, we may inadvertently cause social unrest.

This project systematically reviews the existing literature about the ethical implications of artificial intelligence and the circular economy, ranging from data ownership and control in IoT devices to robot and human collaboration in manufacturing plants. In doing so, we hope to map the debate surrounding a technological and environmental revolution that will underpin social and business practices for generations to come.

Professor Luciano Floridi , Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Joyce Zhang