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Special Issue "Sustainability and Digital Environment"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Engineering and Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Roland W. Scholz

1. Chief senior scientist and professor, Department of Economics and Globalization, Knowledge and Information Management, Danube University, 3500 Krems an der Donau, Austria
2. 2 Professor emeritus of Environmental Sciences: Natural and Social Science Interface, ETH Zurich, Rämistrasse 101, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +43-79-422-44-01
Interests: coupled human–environment systems; sustainable digital environments; sustainable resources management; industrial ecology
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Gerald Steiner

1. Department of Knowledge and Communication Management, Danube-University Krems, Dr. Karl-Dorrek-Straße 30, 3500 Krems, Austria
2. Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA), Harvard University, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +43-(0)2732-893-2313
Interests: sustainability-oriented innovation systems/-processes; sustainable resource management; phosphate rock mining; organizational and regional innovation systems; organizational communication
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Peter Parcycek

Departement of E-Governance in Business and Administration, Danube University, 3500 Krems an der Donau, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +43-(0)2732-893-2312
Interests: e-governance; e-democracy; e-participation; open access; digital environments

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The ongoing digital revolution is changing all domains of life and technology. Against this background, it is remarkable that so little attention has been given to the unintended feedback loops (i.e., rebound effects) that may be faced by social, economic, and environmental systems. In a discussion of the major changes and threats, a recent paper (http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/8/8/726) elaborated that the current digital transformation heralds a new stage of evolution. A main environmental concern is that the large-scale manipulation of genetic processes and cell processes (i.e., directed evolution) is inducing new regulatory processes in evolution. Others stress that big data, the Internet of Things, and the global networking of all human minds are double-edged swords, and may endanger systems and structures that should be sustained from a resilience or sustainable development perspective.

The special issue, Sustainability and Digital Environments, will address a broad range of topics that should help readers to understand both the generic and specific aspects of the critical developments related to the spread of digital environments. Thus, the issue may include papers on challenging economic questions (e.g., the potential loss of workplaces and employment due to digitalization and what the future of both may look like), sociopolitical issues (e.g., altered human behavior, communication, or networking and different forms of cyber addiction), or environmental questions (e.g., the loss of agrobiodiversity linked to digital technologies). However, in addition, contributions related to technological aspects such as durable digital storage are welcomed. In particular, we invite contributions that reflect on the unintended side effects of digital technologies and papers that contribute to the structuring of critical aspects or types of rebound effects related to digital environments, as well as from epistemological or ethical perspectives. Finally, we invite papers that sketch processes related to the type of transdisciplinary or other processes of science and practice collaboration needed to establish sustainable digital environments.

In order to build sustainable digital environments as a component of sustainability science, those who are interested in the field but unsure whether their work may align with the goals of this Special Issue are invited to correspond with the guest editor of this special issue.

Prof. Dr. Roland W. Scholz
Prof. Dr. Peter Parcycek
Prof. Dr. Gerald Steiner
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • digital revolution
  • rebound effects of digital technologies
  • sustainable digital environments
  • vulnerability
  • resilience management

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Unintended Side Effects of Digital Transition: Perspectives of Japanese Experts
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2193; doi:10.3390/su9122193
Received: 8 October 2017 / Revised: 13 November 2017 / Accepted: 14 November 2017 / Published: 28 November 2017
PDF Full-text (1364 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The core of the digital transition is the representation of all kinds of real-world entities and processes and an increasing number of cognitive processes by digital information and algorithms on computers. These allow for seemingly unlimited storage, operation, retrieval, and transmission capacities that
[...] Read more.
The core of the digital transition is the representation of all kinds of real-world entities and processes and an increasing number of cognitive processes by digital information and algorithms on computers. These allow for seemingly unlimited storage, operation, retrieval, and transmission capacities that make digital tools economically available for all domains of society and empower human action, particularly combined with real-world interfaces such as displays, robots, sensors, 3D printers, etc. Digital technologies are general-purpose technologies providing unprecedented potential benefits for sustainability. However, they will bring about a multitude of potential unintended side effects, and this demands a transdisciplinary discussion on unwanted societal changes as well as a shift in science from analog to digital modeling and structure. Although social discourse has begun, the topical scope and regional coverage have been limited. Here, we report on an expert roundtable on digital transition held in February 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. Drawing on a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, our discussions highlight the importance of cultural contexts and the need to bridge local and global conversations. Although Japanese experts did mention side effects, their focus was on how to ensure that AI and robots could coexist with humans. Such a perspective is not well appreciated everywhere outside Japan. Stakeholder dialogues have already begun in Japan, but greater efforts are needed to engage a broader collection of experts in addition to stakeholders to broaden the social debate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Digital Environment)
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Open AccessArticle Digital Threat and Vulnerability Management: The SVIDT Method
Sustainability 2017, 9(4), 554; doi:10.3390/su9040554
Received: 28 January 2017 / Revised: 28 March 2017 / Accepted: 30 March 2017 / Published: 5 April 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (3980 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The Digital Revolution is inducing major threats to many types of human systems. We present the SVIDT method (a Strengths, Vulnerability, and Intervention Assessment related to Digital Threats) for managing the vulnerabilities of human systems with respect to digital threats and changes. The
[...] Read more.
The Digital Revolution is inducing major threats to many types of human systems. We present the SVIDT method (a Strengths, Vulnerability, and Intervention Assessment related to Digital Threats) for managing the vulnerabilities of human systems with respect to digital threats and changes. The method first performs a multilevel system–actor analysis for assessing vulnerabilities and strengths with respect to digital threats. Then, the method identifies threat scenarios that may become real. By constructing, evaluating, and launching interventions against all identified digital threats and their critical negative outcomes, the resilience of a specific human system can be improved. The evaluation of interventions is done when strengthening the adaptive capacity, i.e., a system’s capability to cope with negative outcomes that may take place in the future. The SVIDT method is embedded in the framework of coupled human–environment systems, the theory of risk and vulnerability assessment, types of adaptation (assimilation vs. accommodation), and a comprehensive sustainability evaluation. The SVIDT method is exemplarily applied to an enterprise (i.e., a Swiss casino) for which online gaming has become an essential digital-business field. The discussion reflects on the specifics of digital threats and discusses both the potential benefits and limitations of the SVIDT method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Digital Environment)
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