Computing for the future of the planet

Andy Hopper, Andrew Rice


Digital technology is becoming an indispensable and crucial component of our lives, society and the environment. We present a framework for computing in the context of problems facing the planet. The framework has a number of goals: an optimal digital infrastructure, sensing and optimizing with a global world model, reliably predicting and reacting to our environment and providing digital alternatives to physical activities. This paper describes our vision in which data centres can scale power consumption in line with performance, run closer to the wire with reduced redundancy and behave as a ‘virtual battery’ dynamically using spare, or otherwise unusable, generation capacity from renewable sources. On a broader scale, we consider how global sensing might allow us to optimize our daily activities and lives. We highlight the issues and dilemmas inherent in the deployment of global sensing infrastructure and work towards our challenge of a personal energy meter as a tool for informing decisions and providing impetus for reducing the ecological footprint of our society.



  • One contribution of 19 to a Discussion Meeting Issue ‘From computers to ubiquitous computing, by 2020’.

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