Sustainable Algorithmic Innovation


Melenie Hecker and Dr. Ingo Rollwagen represented the AI Design Competence Collective at the Cyber Podcast to talk about (sustainable) algorithmic innovation.
“We are called upon to develop products that are used in the long term and in a circular way.”
“Especially in online retail, algorithms are used to encourage overconsumption. Therefore, it is important to apply a new skill set to use algorithms more sustainably.”
“Sustainable algorithmic innovations are solution paths to optimise our actions.”
Go listen to this episode via Cyber Podcast (available in German) if you want to learn more about AI in the field of sustainability, what role designers should play and what skill sets will be necessary for the future.

Algorithmic innovation with an automation of data, information and knowledge processing is happening at a high pace in different industries. At the moment this automation leads to acceleration. We do more of the same, but faster. We produce the same products – more of them and faster. But given the challenges of climate change and depleting resources, we all have the opportunity to be more purposeful, responsible AND more successful – putting the SDGs into operation closely embedded in algorithmic innovation. 

Our definition of
‘Sustainable Algorithmic Innovation’:

“Algorithmic innovation and new partnerships are used for sustainable development to meet the present’s needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs. It is about putting the progress in (automated) data, information and knowledge processing to use it for the planet, people, prosperity, and peace.”

Sustainable Algorithmic Innovation (based on SDGs)

Algorithmic innovation and new partnerships (SDG: 17) put to use for the planet (SDG 6,7,13,14,15), people (SDG: 1,2,3,4,5), prosperity (SDG 8,9,12) and peace (SDG (10,11,16).

Our definition of

We are committed to the definition of ‘sustainability’ after the UN Brundtland Commission and the SDGs (see below):

“Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Based on this definition, algorithmic innovation receives a more purposeful, value-based orientation. Combined with AI design competence, ‘sustainability’ guides AI actors to use their algorithmic capabilities and the development of algorithmic technologies (AI engines) to design new sustainable business areas, innovations and processes.

What are the SDGs?

The UN Member States adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 to end poverty, gender-based discrimination and the climate crisis, among others, by 2030.

Why do we address the SDGs?

The SDGs provide us with a universal framework to accelerate sustainable development based on more purposeful algorithmic innovation.

As part of our research, the AI Design Competence Collectives engages in the following areas, where its expertise is situated the most to drive sustainable algorithmic innovation:

  • 4) Quality Education

  • 9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

  • 12) Responsible Consumption and Production

  • 17) Partnerships for the Goals

SDG 12 is the leading goal primarily linked to the creative industries and commits to more responsible consumption and production. To achieve this goal, long-term mutual partnerships (SDG 17) provide the inclusive link between companies (SDG 9), lifelong education and learning institutions (SDG 4) and consumers integration to drive a more responsible consumption lifestyle.

The foundation of sustainable algorithmic innovation is pairing automation and with intelligence (knowledge on products (materiality, product use and the SDGs)) and inclusivity-oriented thinking (integrating stakeholders and users in the development), the ethos and body of knowledge and mindset, which the SDGs provide.