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AI & Climate Change

September 14, 2023

2023-2024 AI & Climate Change Workshop Graphic
2023-2024 AI & Climate Change Workshop Graphic

The Penn Program on Regulation launches a series of monthly workshops exploring the connections between artificial intelligence and climate change.

Next week, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Penn Program on Regulation (PPR) will kick off a year-long workshop series, AI and Climate Change, exploring the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in enhancing solutions to address climate change, including methods for improving AI’s sustainability and energy efficiency.

The monthly in-person workshops will convene experts, scholars, and researchers working in the environmental, climate, and tech fields to advance research and chart a vision for a future where responsible uses of AI will include advancing sustainability goals. The first workshop, “Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning,” will take place on September 21, coinciding with Penn’s annual Climate Week programming.

“Climate change and AI are among the most consequential transformations confronting the world,” said Cary Coglianese, PPR’s faculty director and Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science. “This workshop series not only puts a spotlight on the connections between these two phenomena, but it also seeks to strengthen ties between members of Penn’s campus and the wider community who too often are working in separate domains.”

Register for the Fall 2023 Workshops

  • Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning | Thursday, September 21, 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
    • Moderator: Cary Coglianese, Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science; Director, Penn Program on Regulation
    • Speaker: David Rolnick, Assistant Professor and Canada CIFAR AI Chair in the School of Computer Science at McGill University and at the Mila-Quebec AI Institute
  • AI and Climate Data | Tuesday, October 24, 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
    • Moderator: Richard Berk, Emeritus Professor of Criminology and Statistics
    • Speaker: Amy Braverman, Principal Statistician at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
  • Towards Environmentally Sustainable AI | Monday, November 20, 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
    • Moderator: Shelley Welton, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Law and Energy Policy at Penn Carey Law
    • Speakers: Deep Jariwala, Associate Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering at Penn Engineering, and Benjamin Lee, Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering and Professor of Computer and Information Science at Penn Engineering

Despite the urgent need for society to responsibly manage climate change and AI development, research communities in each of these areas often still operate independently of one another. This division diminishes opportunities to develop practical applications of AI that could enhance environmental protection policy work.

As the proliferation of generative AI tools already suggests, advances in AI and machine learning are likely to precipitate rapid societal changes in the coming decades. While some of these changes may pose challenges or create disruptive effects, others have the potential to drastically improve human welfare and accelerate sustainability initiatives.

Machine learning also has the potential to enhance the increasingly complex scientific and technical analyses involved in developing effective climate change solutions. Cross-disciplinary collaboration will be essential to reducing energy consumption prompted by the growing demand for data processing that is driving the modern economy.

An international leader in interdisciplinary research and collaboration, the University of Pennsylvania is well-positioned to build bridges between the fields of artificial intelligence and climate sustainability. PPR’s workshop series will focus on applications of AI and related data analytics to promote environmental protection.

Initial research already suggests that environmental applications for machine learning could involve promoting decarbonization, optimizing distributed energy systems, predicting exposure to chemical toxins, and strengthening environmental monitoring.

But researchers and technologists are only beginning to explore the full extent to which machine-learning tools can help meet current environmental crises. Interdisciplinary exchange, such as the AI and Climate Change workshop series, can incubate new ideas and build the foundation for sustainable collaboration between experts and researchers in both fields.

Register for a fall workshop.

Save the dates: Spring 2024 Workshops

  • Cass R. Sunstein, Harvard University: Paternalistic Artificial Intelligence: The Case of Climate Change | Wednesday, January 31, 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
  • Tapio Schneider, CalTech: AI-Accelerated Assessments of Climate and Weather Risks | Tuesday, February 27, 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
  • Asheley Landrum, Arizona State: AI and Climate Misinformation | Tuesday, March 26, 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.

AI and Climate Change is funded, in part, by Penn’s Environmental Innovations Initiative. Organized by the Penn Program on Regulation, the workshop series is a collaborative, university-wide effort, with additional co-sponsors including the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, the Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition, the Wharton Climate Center, and the Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences.

Learn more about the Penn Program on Regulation.