Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

“Computing and AI for a Sustainable Future”

November 21st, 2011 / in research horizons, resources / by Erwin Gianchandani

Following last month’s focus on smart health and wellbeing, IEEE Intelligent Systems is inaugurating the Department of AI and Sustainability — another area of national importance! — in its forthcoming November/December 2011 issue.

Doug Fisher, a Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering at Vanderbilt University who recently served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF), will be the department’s editor — and he’s just penned the debut article:

When preparing for a March 2007 talk at [NSF], I searched the Web for scholarly work on AI and climate change, the natural environment, and sustainability. My search was not exhaustive, largely based on keywords, but it wasn’t trivial either. Still, little turned up in the intersection of AI and sustainability in early 2007, and most of what did, as I recall, was in environmental science publications and appeared to be dominated by European researchers using evolutionary computation for the purposes of optimization.


AI and sustainability has grown substantially in the last few years. To some extent, this tracks with increasing interest in sustainability and computing more generally. However, AI is helping to drive this larger movement, rather than simply riding along. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that AI would not be central to understanding and managing the great complexity of maintaining a healthy planet in the face of pervasive and transformative human activity…


Forthcoming articles in this new IEEE Intelligent Systems AI and Sustainability Department will elaborate on AI’s deployment in many areas of sustainability as well as the challenges and opportunities that sustainability issues bring to AI research, education, and practice. This opening article will touch upon the main themes at the intersection of AI and sustainability, but it will primarily concentrate on the larger contexts of sustainability, and on computing and sustainability, thereby setting the stage for articles to come.

Read the rest of Doug’s article — which, by the way, references the February 2011 Computing Community Consortium (CCC) workshop on the role of information sciences and engineering in sustainability — here.

And be sure to contact Doug if you would like to contribute to the department. As he wrote recently:

Among other missions, I regard the IEEE IS, and the AI and Sustainability department specifically, as an ideal place for communicating science and engineering research and educational results/activities to a very technically-knowledgeable readership. If you have postdocs, or senior graduate students who could lead a coauthoring team, and who have (or want to develop) skills at and motivation for synthesis and communicating science, please let them know as well.

(About four articles will appear per year under the department, which has a “significant but limited allotment of space.”)

By the way, to learn more about computational sustainability, including funding opportunities, a series of conference tracks being sponsored by the CCC, and so on, please check out our new dedicated webpage.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

“Computing and AI for a Sustainable Future”

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