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Sustainability expectations towards Artificial Intelligence in the energy and mobility sector

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is associated with narratives and visions of the future that claim to reduce complexity through predictability. Especially when it comes to the energy and mobility sector, the increased possibilities to analyze huge amounts of Data are said to enhance “objectivity, precision, predictability, and consistency in decision-making“ (Vandycke & Irungu 2021). Futures studies have shown how visions, expectations or imaginations are shaping scientific and technological developments and seek to manage complexity and uncertainty. The contribution is centered around two research questions:

  1. Which actors voice which expectations towards the future concerning the use of AI in the energy and mobility sector?
  2. How do respective narratives of AI futures envision solutions for sector-specific sustainability challenges?

The contribution is based on two case studies containing document analyses and interviews. For the energy sector the authors investigated which promises are associated with the use of AI in the smart grid, with the focus on the integration of renewable energies. For the mobility sector, the authors used the example of autonomous minibuses in rural areas to investigate the role attributed to AI-based autonomous and connected driving in the context of the mobility transition. We find that AI futures envisioned for the energy sector have a clear orientation towards climate protection goals while those for (rural) mobility sector lack a clear orientation in this regard.

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