Lecture: Lifting the Veil of the Future: Arendt, Artificial Intelligence, and Energy Justice

Dr. Esmeralda Colombo, Esq.
Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) (Italy)

Date: 10.6.2024, 6:00 p.m.
Venue: Room L623, 6th floor | Faculty of Law | Sigmund Freud University | Lassallestraße 3, 1020 Vienna


This paper offers an Arendtian take on the interconnections between Artificial Intelligence and energy justice. AI was still in its infancy when Hannah Arendt dissected the change in the constellation and mutual relationship of human capabilities from animal rationale to homo faber and animal laborans up to individuals capable of action, with all its self-created risks in an increasingly technological world. With prescience, Hannah Arendt revealed how the machine world has become a substitute for the real world, even though such a “pseudoworld” cannot fulfil the most important task of human action, which is to provide mortals with a more permanent and stable dwelling than themselves. In this sense, Arendt also emphasized the value and potential that humankind realizes in communities among equals, prompting questions on how regulatory frameworks can harness technology for localized forms of political activity. Technology, as the meeting ground of history and nature, offers a privileged perspective to regulate AI and the processes that it starts into the natural world. This is the case of nowadays energy systems, which are long from offering conditions of deliberation that are bound up with human plurality, as energy justice would demand. This paper finds that Arendt’s works offer leverage points for regulatory frameworks to recreate the common world that has been lost in the ever-growing alienation and mass society of energy consumers. Notably, as the integration of AI into today’s energy systems increases, this paper dissects how the evolving regulatory frameworks on energy communities and AI in the European Union can be bridged to enable the rise of energy citizens that harness AI for the production of renewable energy through self-organization in clean energy communities. In this way, laws offer practical pathways to partially cope with the unfulfilled promises of representative democracy through the creation of new, specialized spaces of deliberation, such as energy communities, within AI-enabled energy systems that are being increasingly decarbonized and democratized.


Please register until 9.6.2024: konrad.lachmayer@jus.sfu.ac.at


Esmeralda Colombo is the MSCA Postdoctoral Fellow at the European Institute on Economics and the Environment, in Milan, where she leads her EU-funded project on renewable energy storage, RE-DESIGN. Since September 2023, she has complemented her research work with a new role as Policy and Public Funding Manager for renewable energy investor and developer Smartenergy Italy Srl, focusing on innovation and policy opportunities for renewables and green hydrogen. Twice a Fulbrighter, she started four startups in the sustainability space and is admitted to the lawyers’ bars in Italy and New York State, receiving her JD from the Catholic University of Milan; her LL.Ms from the College of Europe and Columbia Law; her PhD from the University of Bergen, Norway; and her Certificate on Financing and Deploying Clean Energy from Yale University.