Reports  |  ,   |  January 2, 2020

Measuring What Matters in the Era of Global Warming and the Age of Algorithmic Promises

Report written by Konstantinos Karachalios, Nick Stern and John C. Havens. Published by the IEEE Standards Association. Prepared as a contribution to the three‐part Eminent Thinkers on AI Governance meetings hosted by The Minderoo Foundation in 2019−2020. 17 pages.


The future has already arrived in the form of our children. These children are raising their voices all around the world, demanding policy makers and technologists take the necessary steps to secure their futures. This includes utilizing emerging technologies in a way that prioritizes people and planet over power and profits.

At a physical level, human wellbeing is critically dependent on environmental sustainability. Beyond questions of happiness or mood, basic human flourishing means having access to potable water and clean air. Our symbiotic relationship with nature, however, has been severely damaged due to actions that have resulted in a climate crisis that, if not immediately addressed, will lead to irreversible ecological and human devastation. A combination of a courageous socioeconomic transformation and accelerated technological innovation is necessary to mitigate this threat.

At a political level, having agency over our identity is a precondition for self‐determination and freedom. Translated into the algorithmic age, this means agency over our digital footprint and access to and the ability to utilize our data. It has become evident that artificial intelligence (AI) systems also have a downside; in conjunction with other technologies and behavioral marketing practices they can cause harm, especially for children. Therefore, it is imperative to move beyond business as usual and to prioritize the wellbeing of our children, starting with protecting their privacy and security online. If we fail to do this, their agency, mental health, and self‐actualization as humans in any culture will be reliant on forces beyond their control.

We must avoid a future where we have ignored the urgency of these issues or, as young people of today are clearly saying: “We (our generation) will never forgive you.”

Artificial Intelligence systems can provide key enabling solutions to address the systems level changes required for humanity to stem the tide of global warming and restore a symbiotic flourishing between earth and its inhabitants. Likewise, regulation in the United Kingdom, USA, China and elsewhere already exists with the intent to afford some protections to children and their caregivers while fostering the development and use of algorithmic systems supportive of a better future for us all. By identifying and championing metrics that fully recognize the environment and caregiving efforts to restore our climate and protect children’s wellbeing will be framed in ways that best speak to power and redefine societal prosperity in a more holistic and sustainable way.

Measuring What Matters in the Era of Global Warming and The Age of Algorithmic Promises provides the following three sections/recommendations:

  • Recommendation One: Shift Society to the New Climate Economy and Identify “Earth‐Friendly” AI
  • Recommendation Two: Protect Children’s Lives, Future, and Data
  • Recommendation Three: Maximize New Metrics

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