Artificial intelligence in support of the circular economy: ethical considerations and a path forward

AI and Society:1-14 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

The world’s current model for economic development is unsustainable. It encourages high levels of resource extraction, consumption, and waste that undermine positive environmental outcomes. Transitioning to a circular economy (CE) model of development has been proposed as a sustainable alternative. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a crucial enabler for CE. It can aid in designing robust and sustainable products, facilitate new circular business models, and support the broader infrastructures needed to scale circularity. However, to date, considerations of the ethical implications of using AI to achieve a transition to CE have been limited. This article addresses this gap. It outlines how AI is and can be used to transition towards CE, analyzes the ethical risks associated with using AI for this purpose, and supports some recommendations to policymakers and industry on how to minimise these risks.

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