Stefano Bianchini (University of Strasbourg)
12 December 2023 @ 12:30 - 13:30
- Past event
The impact of digital technologies on sustainable development: Some insights from the scientific literature and a large-scale survey
Abstract. While technology has undoubtedly played a role in exacerbating some of the current challenges that humanity faces, it also has the potential to be part of the solution. A growing body of qualitative research has sought to examine the impact of digital technologies on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this study, we leverage natural language processing (NLP) techniques to evaluate abstracts of more than 50,000 scientific publications at the intersection of the SDGs and digital technologies, categorizing them into seven groups: Additive Manufacturing; Artificial Intelligence; Blockchain; Big Data; Computing Infrastructure; Internet of Things; and Robotics. From our study, we draw three main conclusions: (i) NLP tools applied to the corpus of scientific literature can provide a valuable complementary approach to qualitative research; ii) Artificial Intelligence is perceived by scientists as mostly beneficial for the SDGs, and to have less beneficial impact on SDG5 (Gender Equality), SDG10 (Reduced Inequality) and SDG16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions); and (iii) SDG16 is perceived as the most negatively affected by digital technologies, especially blockchain and big data. This study represents a first attempt to use bibliometric data to gain clearer understanding of how digital technologies can be leveraged by science and public policy to promote sustainability along its various facets.