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Computing for the Future of the Planet
Digital technology is becoming an indispensable and crucial component of our lives, society, and the environment. Computing for the Future of the Planet is 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 optimising with a global world model, reliably predicting and reacting to our environment, and digital alternatives to physical activities.
Optimal digital infrastructure
Our lives have become dependent on the digital world. But to sustain this appetite for technology, we need to make a major shift to more energy efficient ways. For example, devices and systems only need to be powered when they are actually performing a function or doing something useful. They should be switched off – and not just on standby – at all other times.
We are interested in system architectures that precisely monitor energy consumption and can turn systems on and off rapidly. And with hardware increasingly becoming a disposable commodity, we are looking at better reuse and longer lasting components to mitigate the environmental impact of production and fabrication.
Predict and react
Using computing to make accurate predictions is an established science – from the weather to economics. But working on such a large global scale with indeterminate multiple variables is by no means exact.
Increasingly powerful computers and algorithms are required to improve the precision and accuracy of forecasts on global warming and its effects. But more fundamental is the question of how we know if the models work. If we don’t understand the problems; how can we fix them?
Even our most commonly used computing applications require frequent updates to deliver software that expresses the programmer’s intent without bugs and vulnerabilities. Complex simulation applications simply multiply the risks and unknowns.
Sense and optimise
Computing has a key role to play in optimising the use of resources in the physical world. One way this can be achieved is by actively sensing the environment in real time and using new algorithms to create cost functions which reflect natural resources in sectors ranging from transport to water management.
Innovative approaches to global-scale monitoring, generation of information and interpretation and analysis are needed to realise this goal, together with new technological and legislative frameworks.
Digital alternatives to physical activities
There has already been a major shift to the digital world in our daily lives at work and at home, reflected by the wide scale adoption of electronic messaging, digital media and the web.
In the future there may be greater change so that the primary way we operate for the purposes of wealth creation and entertainment is in cyberspace.
This will reduce the impact of our activities on the physical world while allowing societies to grow sustainably. New tools, environments and infrastructures are being conceived that will make an accelerated shift to a digital world that is enticing, effective and rewarding for us all.
- Andy Hopper, Andrew Rice, Computing for the Future of the Planet. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, October 2008.
- Download our brochure (A4 Paper version) (Folding version)
- Watch Andy Hopper's TechTalk at Google: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LN4H6vk1xYA&feature=user
Articles in the Press
09-Mar-2010: "Where next for the web?", BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8555987.stm
22-Jul-2009: "Computing for the future of the planet", ElectronicsWeekly, http://www.electronicsweekly.com/Articles/2009/07/22/46568/computing-for-the-future-of-the-planet.htm
22-Jul-2009: "How technology will ease our traffic woes", NewScientist, http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327176.400-how-technology-will-ease-our-traffic-woes.html
22-Jun-2009: "Researchers Ready Personal Energy Monitoring Devices", Communications of the ACM News http://cacm.acm.org/news/31116-researchers-ready-personal-energy-monitoring-devices/fulltext
17-Jun-2009: "Researchers ready personal energy monitoring devices", EETimes http://www.eetimes.com/news/design/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=218000032
23-Apr-2009: "The Tech Lab: Andy Hopper", BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8014248.stm
Oct-2008: Green Computing, Communications of the ACM http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1400181.1400186
06-Jun-2008: "Prof Andy Hopper talks about computing for the future of the planet", Business Weekly http://www.businessweekly.co.uk/2008060631994/q10-talking-heads/prof-andy-hopper-talks-about-computing-for-the-future-of-the-planet.html
12-May-2008: "The healing power of computers", BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7396041.stm
03-May-2008: "Beyond Green Computing", wattwatt http://wattwatt.com/pulses/262/beyond-green-computing/
02-Apr-2008: "Computer laboratory working toward a greener future", Business Weekly http://www.businessweekly.co.uk/2008040231707/computing/computer-laboratory-working-toward-a-greener-future.html
18-Mar-2008: "Wind power urged for computers", guardian.co.uk http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/mar/18/carbonemissions.news
- Project members
- Optimal digital infrastructure
- Predict and react
- Sense and optimise
- Digital alternatives to physical activities
Other information (local access only)
- Power consumption Tabulated measurements of power used by various computing devices
- CL Building power usage Sample data on the total power consumption for the building
- Sustainability in the CL Current strategies and new suggestions
- Battery performance Battery performance
- Display Technology Display Technologies, power consumption and resources
- Human powered computing Human powered computing
- Solar Panel Solar Panel
- Tiny886 The Tiny886 is a Transmeta Crusoe powered computer consuming 8w (CPU+Mem+Video+Network)
- In the news Articles related to sustainability or low power devices in the press
- Transportation Resources relating to transportation
- Resources General sustainability resources and references]
- Sensing the Planet
- Physical to Digital