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Researchers suggest that social media and AI technologies might exacerbate the climate crisis

A group of researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) have drawn attention to the potential negative impact of artificial intelligence (AI), particularly generative AI like OpenAI's ChatGPT, and social media on efforts to combat climate change. Their findings were published in a recent forum article in the journal Global Environmental Politics.

Contrary to the prevailing belief that AI, social media, and other technological advancements are either neutral or beneficial in addressing climate change, the researchers argue that they could actually worsen the crisis. They point out that these technologies not only distract from the urgency of climate action but also diminish human capacities for creative thinking and problem-solving, which are essential for effectively addressing climate challenges.

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Dr. Hamish van der Ven, an Assistant Professor of sustainable business management of natural resources at UBC, highlighted the influence of these technologies on human behavior and societal dynamics, particularly in shaping attitudes and responses to climate change. He expressed concerns that AI and social media platforms constantly bombard users with new and often distracting content, diverting attention away from the climate crisis.

Furthermore, the researchers noted that prolonged exposure to negative news on social media could fuel feelings of hopelessness and pessimism, hindering collective action on climate change. Dr. van der Ven emphasized the need for a careful evaluation of generative AI, as excessive reliance on these technologies may undermine creativity and forward-thinking solutions.

Moreover, both social media and AI are notorious for spreading misinformation, which could further impede effective climate action by disseminating false or biased information. The researchers urge for a critical examination of the role of these technologies in exacerbating the climate crisis and call for measures to mitigate their negative impacts.

In conclusion, the researchers warn that while AI and social media have the potential to facilitate positive change, their unchecked proliferation and influence could undermine efforts to address the urgent challenges posed by climate change.

May 11, 2024 10:42 a.m. 9748

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