SHADE Newsletter 21st March 2024

Welcome to the ninth edition of the SHADE newsletter! 

SHADE is a research hub with a mission to explore issues at the intersection of digital technologies/AI, health and the environment. It is guided by a fundamental question: How should the balance between AI/digital enabled health and planetary health be struck in different areas of the world, and what should be the guiding principles?

The SHADE newsletter comes out every two weeks, bringing you a selection of the latest news, upcoming events, academic publications and podcasts in the SHADE space.

In this newsletter, we highlight global narratives on AI. We take a sweep through climate risks, check in on the inexorable growth of health data and its implications, take a look at the latest AI breakthroughs, call out ourselves and much more.  We hope you enjoy it!

Please tell us what you like, what you don’t like and what you think is missing at [email protected]  

Highlight on Global Narratives on AI Development

  • In the Executive Summary on their AI Nationalism(s) Report, AINow highlight that in US federal R&D strategies, “there is a wholesale acceptance that scale [of AI models] is a proxy for progress and performance”, and no acknowledgement of the environmental impact of this scaling trajectory. Similarly UK and US AI policy documents contain little beyond generic narratives about pushing the frontiers of science and don’t acknowledge the “enormous and well evidenced energy and water costs” of AI. AINow argue for critical questions to be asked around what exactly is the public good of AI.

  • Chapter 5 of the report questions UK government claims to shaping safe and responsible AI. It highlights that, after a lost decade in terms of infrastructure development, the UK’s options are reduced to initiatives like making its public sector NHS data available to service the private sector. Furthermore, it is pursuing such options with little attention to leveraging access to this data as a means to shape the AI industry for societal good.


What we’re listening to

  • Managing AI’s Carbon Footprint in which Sasha Luccioni queries attempts to compare the carbon emissions of people and objects (see this one from Nature which we featured in the last SHADE newsletter). Critiques of the article continue here (22 minutes 40 seconds in) and here (23 minutes in). Has SHADE fallen into the trap of assuming publication in Nature means your methodology is solid?

  • Listen to Hannah Smith and Ismael Velasco talking about the challenges in carbon aware computing here.

  • From Al Jazeera’s AI series, an episode on AI and the Global South. Environmental considerations feature 13 minutes in.

What we’re reading



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