galaz1_Dina RudickThe Boston Globe via Getty Images_robotfarmingsustainability Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Will the Fourth Industrial Revolution Serve Sustainability?

Building a more sustainable future requires a rethink of some deeply held assumptions about the role of artificial intelligence. AI’s potential to help address the climate challenge lies not in optimizing systems, but in augmenting people’s capacities to tackle global warming and become stewards of the biosphere.

STOCKHOLM – Silicon Valley leaders tell us that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring untold benefits. They say it is already underway and accelerating, powered by artificial intelligence and other technologies, and warn that we will be left eating dust if we don’t get with the program.

This upheaval – which also reflects the impact of robotics, bio- and nanotechnology, 5G, and the Internet of Things (IoT) – is a general-purpose revolution. Its leaders and their boosters promise that it will help societies to tackle climate change, address poverty and inequality, and stem the dramatic loss of biodiversity.

The revolution might play out like that. Or it might not.

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