AI and sustainability: a paper by Thomas Le Goff at Dublin BILETA conference

Thomas Le Goff (Assistant Professor of Law and Technology) participated in the 39th Annual Conference of the British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association (BILETA), held on April 17th and 18th, 2024, by Dublin City University’s Law and Tech Research Cluster, the Law Society of Ireland, and the ADAPT Centre for AI-driven Innovation.

This year’s conference provided a stimulating platform for over 150 legal scholars from around the globe (mostly from the UK and Europe) to share ideas and papers on the theme « Digital and green: twin transitions? ». The event was organised by one of the oldest and largest technology law associations in the world and aimed at addressing complex issues at the intersection of law, technology, and environmental sustainability.

One of the highlights of the conference was the captivating keynote delivered by Professor Anna Davies from Trinity College Dublin. Prof. Davies’ presentation, « Software and Sustainability, » shed light on ongoing research projects led by Trinity College in collaboration with the city of Dublin, such as a serious game to educate citizens on the complexity of local policies to mitigate flooding risks: a game that has been played by thousands of students (!

During the conference, Thomas Le Goff presented his work-in-progress paper « Environmental Law’s Principles Applied to Artificial Intelligence: A Path Towards Regulation ». The contribution’s goal was to determine how foundational principles of international environmental law could be used to inform Sustainable AI regulation and to propose concrete regulation options to mitigate AI’s environmental footprint (such as environmental risk assessments, sustainability-by-design or transparency).

Other presentations covered a wide variety of subjects related not only to digital sustainability but also to the regulation of generative AI, intellectual property law applied to “green” technologies… One of our favorites was the paper presented by Assistant Prof. Amélie Lachapelle (University of Namur, Belgium) on “Integration of Sustainable Development in digital matters: What can the CSRD do for the GDPR and the AI Act?”, in which the author analyses the scope of the European “integration principle” in the digital area and examines to what extent the environmental protection is integrated (or it might be) in the drafting and in the implementation of the two key regulations in the digital sector that are the GDPR and the AI Act. She also argued that the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) offers interesting perspectives by imposing the disclosure of sustainability-related information to “public-interest entities”, which may include the environmental impact of a data processing and/or an AI system.

The event was also an opportunity to meet top-level researchers from around the world, with a view to developing partnerships or collaborating on future research projects, and to make Télécom Paris known within the international legal research community.