Technical University of Munich, Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences

Sustainability and digitization are at the center of scientific and political debates as significant social transformations. Artificial intelligence (AI) in particular is increasingly coming into focus, permeating more and more areas of public and private life and also increasingly becoming part of sustainability debates. On the one hand, AI-supported technologies are creating a wide range of opportunities for greater sustainability, for example in the energy transition or in agriculture. On the other hand, AI also poses many risks and challenges for the environment and society: starting with the high energy consumption and carbon footprint of machine learning systems, to automated discrimination. It is becoming increasingly clear that technology development that follows the Silicon Valley-derived motto of “move fast and break things” is out of step with the times and is increasingly being critically scrutinized even in Silicon Valley. Sustainability as a central, political and societal goal, on the other hand, can serve as an orientation framework for the responsible development of AI technologies as well as a compass for their use. For this to succeed, both sociological and technical perspectives are necessary. For universities – but also for other institutions in politics, society and business – this means that disciplinary boundaries must increasingly be broken down and interdisciplinary teaching-learning opportunities created. One such offering is the digitization college “sustAInability”, in which students approach the topic of AI from various sustainability perspectives in a self-learning phase and seminar units, and then develop application-oriented technical and non-technical solutions in the context of AI & sustainability themselves in a workshop week.