Data-Driven Unsustainability? An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Governing the Environmental Impacts of a Data-Driven Society

13 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2020

See all articles by Federica Lucivero

Federica Lucivero

University of Oxford

Gabrielle Samuel

King's College London

Gordon Blair

Lancaster University

Sarah J Darby

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Tina Fawcett

University of Oxford

Mike Hazas

Uppsala University

Carolyn Ten Holter

University of Oxford

Marina Jirotka

University of Oxford - Oxford e-Social Science (OeSS) Project

Michael Parker

University of Oxford - Oxford Centre for Ethics and Communication in Health Care Practice (ETHOX)

Helena Webb

University of Oxford

Hang Yuan

University of Oxford

Date Written: June 19, 2020

Abstract

Data-driven digital technologies are often presented in policy agendas as contributing to the goal of sustainable development by providing information to reduce energy consumption and offering a green alternative to industries and behaviour with a higher environmental footprint. However, it is widely acknowledged in the context of environmental research that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in general, and data centres and cloud computing in particular, have a heavy footprint featuring a high consumption of non-renewable energy, waste production and carbon dioxide emissions. In spite of this, environmental issues have so far figured only sparsely in both policy initiatives supporting data-driven digital initiatives, as well as in recent ethics and governance scholarly literature discussing the data-driven revolution. We convened an interdisciplinary workshop to map out the current conceptual landscape on the environmental impacts of data-driven technologies, and to explore how ethical thinking can contribute to it. In this commentary, we discuss the main themes that emerged and our call for action.

Keywords: data-driven technologies, governance, values, digital sustainability, environmental impact, ethics

Suggested Citation

Lucivero, Federica and Samuel, Gabrielle and Blair, Gordon and Darby, Sarah J and Fawcett, Tina and Hazas, Mike and Ten Holter, Carolyn and Jirotka, Marina and Parker, Michael and Webb, Helena and Yuan, Hang, Data-Driven Unsustainability? An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Governing the Environmental Impacts of a Data-Driven Society (June 19, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3631331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3631331

Federica Lucivero (Contact Author)

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Gabrielle Samuel

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Gordon Blair

Lancaster University ( email )

Lancaster LA1 4YX
United Kingdom

Sarah J Darby

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Tina Fawcett

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Mike Hazas

Uppsala University ( email )

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20
Sweden

Carolyn Ten Holter

University of Oxford ( email )

Marina Jirotka

University of Oxford - Oxford e-Social Science (OeSS) Project ( email )

Oxford e-Research Centre
7 Keble Road
Oxford, OX1 3QG
United Kingdom

Michael Parker

University of Oxford - Oxford Centre for Ethics and Communication in Health Care Practice (ETHOX) ( email )

Old Road Campus
Oxford, OX3 7LF
United Kingdom

Helena Webb

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Hang Yuan

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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