Themed issue on sustainable AI


The relationship between digitalization and sustainability is a central topic of the Weizenbaum Institute. To deepen the understanding of this relationship, we invite contributions to the Weizenbaum Journal of the Digital Society [WJDS] focusing on the topic of “Sustainable AI”. This topic comprises both perspectives: 1) AI (artificial intelligence) and/or ML (machine learning) approaches are described as instruments to achieve sustainable development. 2) The consideration of approaches of AI and ML as organizational resources, which should be designed sustainably and adhere to corresponding demands such as sufficiency, equity, and resource conservation.

We, that is the research group on Digitalization, Sustainability, and Participation at the Weizenbaum Institute, coordinate a thematic issue to broaden and diversify the emerging field of “Sustainable AI.” The thematic issue builds on a previous collaboration between the Weizenbaum Institute and the Berlin Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data, which included the organization of the 2022 BIFOLD Summer School.

We invite the submission of papers that take into account environmental and social sustainability concerns towards AI as well as big data developments and practices. This enfolds the sustainable design of AI or levering AI to contribute to the socio-ecological transformation on the one hand, but on the other hand also critically analysing, even de-constructing, those approaches in a concrete or general manner. We welcome addressing challenges and opportunities to designing sustainable AI across all aspects of AI and ML, i.e., goals and objectives, data, experimentation, practices, training, usage, contexts, inferences, ethics and ramifications. Topics addressed could link to, but are not limited to:

  • Environmental aspects of AI/ML: AI-supported reductions of environmental impacts (e.g., in manufacturing, cities, online platforms), quantifications of greenhouse gas emissions of machine learning methods and applications, and energy and resource consumption of digital technologies’ hardware materials
  • Social aspects of AI/ML: studies on social issues emerging through or manifested by AI technology, for example regarding openness, participation, biases, discrimination, and exploitation, innovative participatory designs of AI development, human-centred data and design ethics
  • Critical review of the goals and tasks of already developed AI/ML solutions in general by looking at conceptions, expectations, and narratives around AI
  • Identification of contradictory trends in AI/ML development in the name of innovation and sustainable development

All papers should explicitly state how problems should be tackled and which steps would be necessary to achieve a more sustainable AI or, if applying a more critical stance, why AI will not or even cannot help us towards a sustainable society. We believe that sustainable AI is harder to achieve in a uni-disciplinary approach, and therefore encourage interdisciplinary scholarship. We welcome a broad range of methodological approaches, e.g., case studies, literature reviews, opinion papers, empirical and conceptual work. Further Reading: Miceli, M., Posada, J., Yang, T., 2022. Studying Up Machine Learning Data: Why Talk About Bias When We Mean Power? Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., GROUP, (January 2022) 6, 1–14.; Nishant, R., Kennedy, M., Corbett, J., 2020. Artificial intelligence for sustainability: Challenges, opportunities, and a research agenda. International Journal of Information Management 53, 102104.

Key Dates

Full Paper submission deadline: March 31, 2023, AOE (anywhere on earth)

Notification of acceptance and paper reviews available: May 31, 2023
Paper revision deadline: July 20, 2023, AOE
Issue release: Autumn 2023

In autumn 2023, we would like to invite all contributors and reviewers of the Weizenbaum Thematic Issue on “Sustainable AI” to meet up and present their article in a workshop at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society. Details will follow.


Submission and handling of the thematic issue will be organized using the WJDS manuscript management system and full papers should adhere to the outlined guidelines. The full papers (5,000-10,000 words) will go through a double-blind peer review process. Please indicate in a cover letter that the contribution is meant for the thematic issue on “Sustainable AI” and which disciplines are mainly addressed in your paper.

All papers will obtain a DOI and be made available via open access and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) on the website of the Weizenbaum Journal. There are no publication fees.

If you have any questions, please contact us!

We look forward to receiving your contribution!

Best Regards,

Thematic Issue Editors
Andrea Hamm (
Rainer Mühlhoff (
Rainer Rehak (
André Ullrich (