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Ethics and Technology
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Ethics and Technology


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Ethical, Legal & Social Aspects (ELSA) of Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Food Systems

NWO research project
January 2022 - January 2026

In the 21st century, population growth is expected to lead to an increasing demand for healthy and safe food which needs to be produced under challenging circumstances due to climate change. AI and digitalisation more broadly are often put forward as enablers of the transition toward more Sustainable Food Systems (SFS), in which sufficient food is produced with less burden on the environment. However, the development and implementation of AI also raises concerns, as it can disrupt the existing food system and raises ethical, legal and social aspects (ELSA), for instance regarding the fundamental freedom and autonomy of producers and consumers, consequences for employment, and new power relations between companies in the farm value chain or the liability of AI systems.

In order to benefit from AI’s potential for a transition to SFS, this project seeks to develop responsible and trustworthy AI in sustainable food systems by means of the development of an ELSA lab. In this project we will (a) develop insights in the ethical, legal and social challenges and opportunities related to AI applications for SFS, (b) design an ELSA lab methodology (including tools, (ethical and legal) guidelines and engagement strategies) for responsible and trustworthy AI for SFS, and (c) conduct multiple case studies where we will integrate ELSA aspects in AI (re)design or realize adjustments in the context in which it is to be implemented, like practical social arrangements, contracts, laws etc.

Throughout the project, the consortium will work closely together with quadruple helix stakeholders in multiple case studies, in pop-up ELSA labs in various contexts, and by involving a stakeholder board in advising and steering the development of the ELSA lab into a hub that can facilitate ELSA research and services to AI developers in agri-food after the project ends.

More information can be found here.