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To Decarbonize We Must Decomputerize


In the Guardian opinion section Ben Tarnoff, a founding editor of Logic magazine, zeroes in on an overlooked source of carbon emissions: the massive server farms of companies like Google and Amazon. As Tarnoff observes, these server farms are set to increase their emissions in the coming years as computers invade every area of our lives – from our public spaces to our domestic environments – to harvest and process enormous amounts of data about us. In the face of this chilling prospect, Tarnoff argues for “a Luddite revolution,” one that regards Silicon Valley’s narrow idea of “progress” with skepticism. Check out an excerpt from the piece below.

Decomputerization doesn’t mean no computers. It means that not all spheres of life should be rendered into data and computed upon. Ubiquitous “smartness” largely serves to enrich and empower the few at the expense of the many, while inflicting ecological harm that will threaten the survival and flourishing of billions of people.

Precisely which computational activities should be preserved in a less computerized world is a matter for those billions of people themselves to decide. The question of whether a particular machine hurts or helps the common good can only be answered by the commons itself. It can only be answered collectively, through the experiment and argument of democracy.

Image: A Facebook server farm. Via Daily Mail.


Although I haven’t read the full article posted here, there are some things that come to my mind that I’d like to post here for the interested reader/listener:

Google and Apple and I think also FB have a large amount of Renewable Energy in their Mix. (I’m all anti Google and FB, but it would be nice if this will be normal sooner than later.)

  • I also found out about an interesting festival: I think the website features some info on what they’re all about. But the name itself is quite nice I think!

  • Of course the Right to repair movement comes to my mind, too. Some months ago I bought a used Fairphone 1 and changed its broken screen with help from ifixit