I-NERGY AI Ethics Considerations

Advancement of AI is accompanied by great opportunities for economic development and addressing societal challenges. The potential of AI is expected to radically transform the energy sector, revolutionise the way that Electric Power and Energy Systems (EPES) community is undertaking the business processes and have significant impact on society and environment. However, AI can put pressure on ethical values and fundamental rights that drive our lives and our societies.

Ethical considerations often underlie the law and represent the common rationale, and thus overlap with the law to a certain degree. As such, they may serve as guidance where the law is not entirely adapted to new phenomena, e.g., where technology enables practices, which the legislator had not anticipated. In newly emerging fields, such as AI, legislation may indeed not cover sufficiently all ethical implications or may have not clear rules on them, thus hampering compliance.

Along these lines it is important that AI-related research, in addition to respecting legal obligations, is guided by ethical considerations and the values and principles on which European societies are founded. In the energy domain, AI ethical considerations and concerns may arise around the issues of:

  • privacy and informed consent (e.g., AI algorithms, applied in the context of customer engagement programs for dynamic consumption advice, revealing personal patterns and habits);
  • energy security (e.g., cyber-attacks on the energy grid leading to disruptions to the distribution of energy and even to the infrastructure itself);
  • energy equity and affordability (e.g., AI algorithms deployed in smart energy grids becoming biased against small, albeit essential, loads of poor households in favor of affluent consumers whose large loads are more likely to influence the model training); and
  • sustainability (e.g., AI models requiring huge volumes of storage along with high amounts of processing power leading to considerable electricity consumptions and thus GHG emissions).

In the context of I-NERGY, the Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI developed by AI HLEG are set to form the basis for the AI solutions that will be designed and developed within the project. The implementation of these guidelines will take for both the project pilot use cases as well as for the external solutions to be funded by I-NERGY Technology Transfer Programmes (TTP) the form of a periodic self-evaluation process with feedback based on the Assessment List for Trustworthy AI (ALTAI) that will help to raise awareness of the potential impact of the aforementioned use cases and solutions on the society, environment, consumers, workers and citizens, identify potential AI risks and apply appropriate mitigation measures to prevent any harmful consequences related to them.