(Fifteen minute read)
The short answer: Yes, and it comes with a cost, we now have Apps you pay for to stop data collection
Technological advancements are difficult to forecast, but several models predict that data centre’s energy usage could engulf over 10% of the global electricity supply by 2030 if left unchecked.
There is no denying that the future of technology will continue to revolutionize our lives, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t care about their privacy. It’s human nature. You want control over what private information you share and who you share it with. Unfortunately, you can lose this control with a careless click.
Various entities handle your private data. The first among them is the government and its institutions. You can’t get public services (for example, electricity, a high school education, healthcare) without identifying yourself.
You can buy apples at a stand and remain a stranger to the fruit seller. But buy apples online, and you’ll give away private information about yourself. It may be a fact as simple as that you like apples. This information will be sold to an advertiser, and the next time you go online, an ad for apples will pop up on your screen.
Almost everything you do online leaves a data breadcrumb. You have little control over how these breadcrumbs are collected.
Usually, it works like this. Before you start using a new online service, you have to read a wall of fine print. You do not do so, because you don’t want to wade through paragraphs of jargon. You click that you agree, and that’s how you begin to give away your private data. You cannot change the agreement, and you cannot bargain — it’s take it or leave it and if you reject all, rest assured it is logged as data.
There are countless technology advances in hospitals and medicine but as data penetrates deeper into biologically and culturally diverse corners of the world is technology a sustainability hero or villain?
Information privacy will become an even hotter topic once technologies create more invasive tools. You’ll be surrounded by facial-recognition cameras, smart speakers that listen to your conversations, e-textiles, wearable health monitors, and other data-gathering gadgets.
All-together, this paints a challenging picture for the future of our environment. Many technology companies have yet come to grips with the environmental impact associated with their products and services.
Analysis by Veritas estimates that 5.8 million tonnes of CO2 will be pumped into the atmosphere this year as a result of storing unnecessary ‘dark data’ – this translates to more emissions than 80 individual countries.
Destroying our planet is no easy task. Sure, you could bomb us back to the stone age, introduce a plague to wipe out all complex life or whip up some sort of nanomachine to completely eliminate the entire biosphere. But in all those cases, the rock we stand on would still remain, lifelessly circling the sun for billions of years to come.
Getting a handle on wayward data is becoming as big a problem as Climate Change.
The list of significance of data analytics just goes on and on – you need data to pitch stocks, file financial reports and provide better service to your clients, arrive at projections, assess performance. Objects that use IoT today include driverless cars, fitness trackers like Fitbit, thermostats, and doorbells. Objects that use IoT are also commonly referred to as smart objects. smart thermostat online shopping. voice assistants. integrate your voice assistant with any smart device. food delivery.
Who hasn’t heard of Facebook, Twitter, or Skype? They’ve become household names. Even if you don’t use these platforms, they’re a part of everyday life and not going away anytime soon.
Communication tools offer one of the most significant examples of how quickly technology has evolved.
No more do you have to enter a bank to withdraw money or transfer it to someone. With your cell phone and a banking app, you can manage all of your necessary bill payments online.
The smartwatch is a relatively new technology that captures almost all the capabilities of smartphones in a convenient touch-screen watch. You can receive notifications, track your activity, set alarms, and even call and text directly through these wearable devices. Technology has changed how we watch television, what news we get. More and more TVs these days are even designed for streaming. “Smart TVs” have Wi-Fi capability. Paper books aren’t going anywhere. We can access our music no matter where we are. For better or worse, technology has also made it possible for you to find other people’s personal information on the Internet through social media. You can gain access to the information you want to know about a particular person.
So is Data screwing up the world?
Well, neither really but should we be steering technological innovation and deployment to drive social progress.
Technology encompasses a broad range of products and systems, some of which will help us live more sustainably and others that won’t. The production and use of technology will always involve the consumption of energy and materials, but if that same technology helps us minimise our consumption in other ways or allows us to use more sustainable methods of production, then the net effect will be positive.
Over the years, technology has revolutionized our world and daily lives. The amount of active web users globally is now near 3.2 billion people. That is almost half of the world’s population adoption of new technologies, like smartphones and wearables, may have slowed down significantly in the last few years, but data usage is only continuing to grow—massively.
In 2012, there were only 500,000 data centres worldwide to handle global traffic, but today there are more than 8 million according to IDC.
As data becomes more siloed and fragmented, it gets increasingly harder to find and manage.
Take Bitcoin mining network which are now consumes more energy than the whole of Ireland. And it’s growing at about 30% a month.
Take Netflix binging. Storing and streaming all that digital content requires a lot of energy, and as consumers expect regular new content and ever better video quality, the energy demands spiral upwards.
It’s not just Netflix of course. In total, data centres consume roughly 3% of the world’s energy supply, and this amount is estimated to treble in the next decade.
Take that every year, millions of data centres worldwide are purging metric tons of hardware, draining country-sized amounts of electricity, and generating carbon emissions as much as the global airline industry. Data centres energy usage could engulf over 10% of the global electricity supply by 2030 if left unchecked. It is double every four years. Analysis by Veritas estimates that 5.8 million tonnes of CO2 will be pumped into the atmosphere this year as a result of storing unnecessary ‘dark data’ – this translates to more emissions than 80 individual countries.
All-together, this paints a challenging picture for the future of our environment because it’s one of the largest and most unappreciated blind spots in the fight against climate change.
The most important next step right now is simply education – and getting companies to realize that the importance and benefits of more eco-friendly data centres, but the impact is also determined by how we, the consumers, use that technology.
Heading into 2023 the signals are mixed turning millions of us into remote-workers.
Perhaps the most concerning way that technology impacts our environment is through the mining of vast quantities of rare metals. Metals like lithium, cobalt and nickel are used to make critical hardware components – batteries in particular – for things like computers, smartphones and electric cars. Unfortunately, mining these metals is energy intensive and comes not just at an environmental cost, but often a terrible human cost too. Moreover, these rare metals are just that: rare. Without large investment in recycling facilities, using these limited natural resources is unsustainable. The planned obsolescence of consumer gadgets only exacerbates the problem.
We will not likely get through the coming year without some sort of catastrophic attack on a very strategic and important network or service provider like Gmail, WhatsApp, or Microsoft.
The revolutions that will surface in years to come will continue to make profound changes in our everyday lives.
In the end, the environmental impact will depend not only on choices that we make as consumers, but on the social and political choices that we make collectively as citizens.
Our data centres don’t have to harm the environment, if we take the proper actions today.
Only 12% of today’s data centres that are green. According to analyst firm IDC, in 2012, there were only 500,000 data centres worldwide that were handling global traffic, but today there are more than 8 million.
“The time for pure national interests has passed, internationalism has to be our approach and in doing so bring about a greater equality between what nations take from the world and what they give back. The wealthier nations have taken a lot and the time has now come to give.”
Why destroy the planet if we don’t have to.
Whole industries (think telemarketers, corporate law, private equity) whole lines of work (middle management, brand strategists, high-level hospital or school administrators, editors of in-house corporate magazines) exist primarily to convince us there is some reason for their existence.
It’s not our pleasures that are destroying the world. It’s our puritanism, our feeling that we have to suffer in order to deserve those pleasures. If we want to save the world, we’re going to have to stop working in bullshit jobs.
It is ironic that the technologies most responsible for the mood of today’s world are also best positioned to improve it.
AI must be programmed to enhance human life as opposed to imitating it.
From social media to the climate crisis, Big Data is helping to ruin everything. The total lack of legal data rights for individuals is a violation of autonomy, privacy, and even freedom of thought and speech.
Currently we have no rights at all to own our data, and it can be sold easily to the highest bidder to do with it as they please.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
There are fantastic things that can be done with data, and it is absolutely essential to so much of modern scientific and engineering feats which we hope might save the world. Without data, none of our interventions in great problems like climate change would be able to do anything at all. In fact, without adequate data collection and analysis, we might never have noticed that climate change is happening at all.
Just remember these few things:
- Data is not your ally — especially not when you are trying to convince somebody of something. Changing a whole mindset requires more than just statistics, and raw data is so abstract and such a broad category that there can easily be conflicting data sets that lead to impasses in conversation. Data is a crucial tool, but you need to build trusting mutual relationships, too.
- Data is not your friend — it does not care whether you think you have a right to it or not. Data will be owned by and used by those who created the platform you are using, until the law changes. And the law will not change unless you start caring.
- Data is not “things” — objects are totally separate from the data abstracted from them in a way that is metaphysically irreconcilable. There is no way to recreate an apple from mere data about an apple, nor to exhaust the nature of an apple by reducing it to data-form. This is an important principle that should be remembered whenever we deal with data: data is no more than what it is, and potentially much less.
- Data is now just such a frontier — you are the product.
All human comments appreciated. all like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.