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.