Human-centered AI for More Sustainability

Project timeline: Jan. 2021 – Dec. 2024

Funding: Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship program, supported by the European Union

Partners: 9

Project coordinator: University of Siegen

Tasks of FIT: WP3 Lead Data Interpretation 

In the GECKO project, Fraunhofer FIT is working on a new EU-wide fellowship program together with an international partner network led by the University of Siegen. The goal is to investigate how artificial intelligence can help support the energy transition for a more sustainable society.  

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already an integral part of our everyday lives - in our homes, networks and smartphones. The list of applications is long, but the technology is still in its infancy. Despite many developments in recent years, AI still harbors risk and is, in many respects, a buzzword that falls short of the expectations associated with it. Nevertheless, AI technology is expected to tackle environmental protection and transform our society towards ecological, economic and social sustainability. The EU aims to leverage the opportunities of AI in a way that is safe, ethical, and places humanity at the center of innovation. Against this background, the EU is aware that new interdisciplinary research is needed to bridge the knowledge gap between the disciplines of social sciences, engineering and technology.

Building a more sustainable society through AI

GECKO is addressing these challenges by exploring the relationships between smart energy, digital technologies, and people in an interdisciplinary, international project. To this end, a new PhD training network will be created, in which 15 early-stage researchers work on their dissertations in the social, computer, and information sciences. The PhD candidates will be under the guidance of proven experts in areas such as smart technology, human-computer interaction, climate change, energy, AI and responsible innovation.

Methodologically, the project relies on so-called “living labs” as well as virtual labs with users of smart technologies. The goal is to identify the areas in which the decisions made by AI can have an impact on people in terms of sustainability. For this purpose, new methods for the creation of machine learning (ML) models are explored, which are based on the latest findings from the social and information sciences. These are developed and evaluated within the framework of user-centered research approaches in close collaboration with users in the labs.

Fraunhofer FIT is committed to putting people at the center of innovation on the path to responsible AI. In the project, we contribute our expertise in the field of usability and user experience design as well as supervise two researchers in their doctoral studies during the 36-month fellowship program. Research is conducted on Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA) for energy-related routines and on Explainable AI (XAI) for smart home technologies. The project is coordinated by the University of Siegen. The project is funded by the EU Commission within the MSCA-ITN-2020 Innovative Training Networks program. 

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