Desirable Digitalisation

Rethinking AI for Just and Sustainable Futures.

We investigate how to design AI (artificial intelligence) and other digital technologies in a responsible way, placing the questions of social justice and environmental sustainability at the very heart of our work.

Our research program is a collaboration between the Universities of Cambridge and Bonn and numerous international partners, and is funded by the Mercator Foundation in Germany.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.

Our Research

As the European Commission negotiates its Artificial Intelligence Act that will require AI systems to be assessed for their impact on fundamental rights and values, our teams in the UK and in Germany collaboratively investigate the many questions that arise from these plans:

  • How can we meaningfully assess whether and how AI systems violate fundamental rights and values?
  • How does AI development impact the environment and how can we foster truly sustainable approaches to technology production?
  •  What does desirable tech development look like? And who gets to determine what counts as ‘desirable’?

In this part of the project, we will  investigate foundational, anthropological questions concerning the human in the digital age, such as: how do different ideas of ‘the human; shape different cultures’ views of desirable digitalization? Our team at Bonn will work not only with colleagues across Europe, but also with teams in Asia and Africa.

Drawing on lessons from history and political science, and cultural studies, in this part of the project our team at Cambridge will investigate how structural injustices of the past influence today’s technology and its influence on fundamental rights and values.

In this part of the project, researchers from Bonn and Cambridge will work with the AI industry to develop design and education resources that put environmental sustainability and social justice at the heart of technological progress.

  "Mercator Visiting Professorship for AI in the Human Context"

As part of the research project, internationally recognised visiting professors join us for one or two semesters here at CST to research, teach and publish, and to give one lecture on AI in the Human Context per semester. Previous lectures:

Mercator Lectures for AI in the Human Context

Mercator Visiting Professors

Avatar Ferraris

Maurizio Ferraris


Avatar Maclure

Jocelyn Maclure


Avatar Erdélyi

Olivia Erdélyi


Avatar Dotan

Shimon Dotan


Avatar Anbar

Netaya Anbar


Contact Information

To learn more visit our project website or follow us on twitter.

Projekt Coordination Bonn: Christiane Schäfer (

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