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Article

The Digitalization Sustainability Matrix: A Participatory Research Tool for Investigating Digitainability

Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research/Innovation Campus Bonn (ICB), University of Bonn, D-53113 Bonn, Germany
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These authors contributed equally to this work.
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9283; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219283
Received: 30 September 2020 / Revised: 19 October 2020 / Accepted: 3 November 2020 / Published: 9 November 2020
Rapidly increasing applications of Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence (D&AI) are already impacting our day-to-day life substantially, along with social and economic prospects worldwide. The accelerating utilization of D&AI has stirred the discussion concerning the responsible application of technologies for assisting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). D&AI can raise productivity, lower costs, reduce resource intensity, and enable efficient public services. However, there are also risks and downsides that we all must identify and tackle to address any potential short-/long-term undesired impact. Notably, there exists a gap in knowledge about the mutual relationships between D&AI and the 17 SDGs. To address this gap and gather broader perspectives of experts on the potential uses and pitfalls of D&AI for SDGs and their respective indicators, we propose a participatory research approach: the Digitalization–Sustainability Matrix (DSM). The DSM serves as a means for collaborative methods, such as participatory action research (PAR), for the knowledge production process. We exercised the DSM in the Digitainable Thinkathon event, a gathering of experts from diverse sectors and backgrounds for capturing the action-oriented dialogues concerning the use of D&AI technologies for the indicators of SDGs 4 (Education) and 13 (Climate Action). As a tool, the DSM aided in the discussion by systematically capturing transdisciplinary knowledge generated on several aspects, such as: (1) the need for research–practice nexus action; (2) data-capturing efforts and social considerations; (3) collaborative planning for utilizing the power of D&AI; (4) lessons from the diverse community to encourage the purposeful use of technologies. Overall, the proposed approach effectively triggered a discussion on the crucial aspects that need to be considered for D&AI’s practices, a step towards deep-rooting the transdisciplinary perspectives for meaningful use of D&AI for SDGs. View Full-Text
Keywords: digitalization; artificial intelligence; SDGs; SDG indicators; participatory tools; digitainability; SDG 4; SDG 13 digitalization; artificial intelligence; SDGs; SDG indicators; participatory tools; digitainability; SDG 4; SDG 13
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gupta, S.; Motlagh, M.; Rhyner, J. The Digitalization Sustainability Matrix: A Participatory Research Tool for Investigating Digitainability. Sustainability 2020, 12, 9283. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219283

AMA Style

Gupta S, Motlagh M, Rhyner J. The Digitalization Sustainability Matrix: A Participatory Research Tool for Investigating Digitainability. Sustainability. 2020; 12(21):9283. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219283

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gupta, Shivam, Mahsa Motlagh, and Jakob Rhyner. 2020. "The Digitalization Sustainability Matrix: A Participatory Research Tool for Investigating Digitainability" Sustainability 12, no. 21: 9283. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219283

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