How to Align the Digital with the
Ecological Transition
Lorenz Hilty
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Empa Materials Scie...
Analog
Digital
Unsustainable
Sustainable
Image Source: Megan Hollis,
Techsys Digital (TD) Blog, 2015
The rate of global material extraction is increasing
Source: United Nations Industrial Development Organization: Green Gro...
Dematerialization
In production:
Create more value
with less material
resource input
Close material loops.
= increase reso...
Digital ICT could be the perfect enabler of
dematerialization,
but it isn’t
because we are using this technology the
wrong...
Arguments:
1. Despite Moore’s Law, we are using more
and more material for ICT hardware.
2. Despite Koomey’s Law, we are u...
Arguments:
1. Despite Moore’s Law, we are using more
and more material for ICT hardware.
2. Despite Koomey’s Law, we are u...
2011
Intel 4004
2300 (2.3*103)
transistors on one chip
Intel CORE i7 3960X
2.27 Billion (2.3*109)
transistors on one chip
...
The macro-level effect of micro-level dematerialization
Example:
Development of mobile
phone use in Switzerland
1990-2003
...
Half of the periodic table is included in ICT hardware
Chemical elements used
to build digital electronic
devices
Mining activities for scarce metals are increasing
Mining under poor working conditions Informal recycling: a form of urba...
Example:
Informal recycling in in
Delhi, India
Source: Empa, Technology and
Society Laboratory
Manual extraction of copper from printed wiring boards in Delhi, India.
Typical backyard company with 12 workers. Yield: 1...
Example:
Informal recycling in in
Guiyu, China
Source: Empa, Technology and
Society Laboratory
Example:
Semi-formal recycling
in in Cape Town,
South Africa
Source: Empa, Technology and
Society Laboratory
Arguments:
1. Despite Moore’s Law, we are using more
and more material for ICT hardware.
2. Despite Koomey’s Law, we are u...
ICT hardware is
“de-energizing”–
another success story
In 70 years of electronic computing
history, the energy efficiency ...
For my first laptop from the 1980ies, if it had to perform like my today’s laptop, I would have
needed a “personal power p...
0.00
0.02
0.04
0.06
0.08
0.10
0.12
0.14
2007 2012
Global ICT electricity demand, in MWh/year x cap
Data centers
LCDs
CRTs
...
Arguments:
1. Despite Moore’s Law, we are using more
and more material for ICT hardware.
2. Despite Koomey’s Law, we are u...
1. Agriculture
Forestry,
Fishing,
Mining
2. Manufacturing
3. Services
4. Information
Services
C. Clark’s theory of progres...
Countries with highest service sector output
0
2,000
4,000
6,000
8,000
10,000
12,000
14,000
16,000
UnitedStates
China
Japa...
40 tons of material resources are extracted per person, of which 67% outside our country.
23
Example: TMR of Switzerland
40 tons per person are ≈ factor 4 above the global average
Analog
Digital
Unsustainable
Sustainable
Image Source: Megan Hollis,
Techsys Digital (TD) Blog, 2015
What would it mean to use ICT the right way?
How would we use ICT in a world of scarce natural resources?
(We live in such...
Vision 1:
Self-sufficient communications infrastructure
With further progress in energy efficiency of ICT and energy harve...
Vision 2:
Collaboration in virtual environments replaces travel
Physical travel with high
carbon intensity
Virtual meeting...
Vision 3:
Recycling robots powered by abundant renewable energy
The Flintstones’ garbage
disposal pig
Artificial Intellige...
Image Source: Megan Hollis,
Techsys Digital (TD) Blog, 2015
What’s your vision of dematerialization?
Thank you!
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Lift 2016 - Lorenz Hilty's talk

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How to align the digital and the ecological transitions.

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Lift 2016 - Lorenz Hilty's talk

  1. 1. How to Align the Digital with the Ecological Transition Lorenz Hilty University of Zurich, Switzerland Empa Materials Science and Technology, Switzerland
  2. 2. Analog Digital Unsustainable Sustainable Image Source: Megan Hollis, Techsys Digital (TD) Blog, 2015
  3. 3. The rate of global material extraction is increasing Source: United Nations Industrial Development Organization: Green Growth: From labor to resource productivity. Best practice examples, initiatives and policy options. 2013 +89% Metals +60% Fossil Fuels +133% Minerals +35% Biomass (Food, Wood, …) ≈ 10 tons per person year; problematic: scarce metals, fossil fuels, fertilizer minerals, parts of biomass  We need dematerialization
  4. 4. Dematerialization In production: Create more value with less material resource input Close material loops. = increase resource productivity In consumption: Be happy with less heavy stuff. Slow down.
  5. 5. Digital ICT could be the perfect enabler of dematerialization, but it isn’t because we are using this technology the wrong way.
  6. 6. Arguments: 1. Despite Moore’s Law, we are using more and more material for ICT hardware. 2. Despite Koomey’s Law, we are using more and more energy for ICT services. 3. Despite increasing service-sector outputs, total material requirements are not decreasing.
  7. 7. Arguments: 1. Despite Moore’s Law, we are using more and more material for ICT hardware. 2. Despite Koomey’s Law, we are using more and more energy for ICT services. 3. Despite increasing service-sector outputs, total material requirements are not decreasing.
  8. 8. 2011 Intel 4004 2300 (2.3*103) transistors on one chip Intel CORE i7 3960X 2.27 Billion (2.3*109) transistors on one chip 1971 ICT hardware is dematerializing – a success story In only 40 years, the number of transistors on a microchip has increased by a factor of one million.
  9. 9. The macro-level effect of micro-level dematerialization Example: Development of mobile phone use in Switzerland 1990-2003 Source: Hilty L.M., Behrendt S., Binswanger M., Bruinink A., Erdmann L., Froehlich J., Köhler A., Kuster N., Som C., Wuertenberger F. (2005): The Precautionary Principle in the Information Society – Effects of Pervasive Computing on Health and Environment. Swiss Center for Technology Assessment (TA-SWISS), Bern, p. 187 Total physical mass [tons] Physical mass per phone [g] 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 19901991 19921993 19941995 1996 19971998199920002001 20022003 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Numberofusers[Mio.]
  10. 10. Half of the periodic table is included in ICT hardware Chemical elements used to build digital electronic devices
  11. 11. Mining activities for scarce metals are increasing Mining under poor working conditions Informal recycling: a form of urban mining Short service life of “clean” devices
  12. 12. Example: Informal recycling in in Delhi, India Source: Empa, Technology and Society Laboratory
  13. 13. Manual extraction of copper from printed wiring boards in Delhi, India. Typical backyard company with 12 workers. Yield: 1-2 tons/month Source: Empa, Technology and Society Laboratory
  14. 14. Example: Informal recycling in in Guiyu, China Source: Empa, Technology and Society Laboratory
  15. 15. Example: Semi-formal recycling in in Cape Town, South Africa Source: Empa, Technology and Society Laboratory
  16. 16. Arguments: 1. Despite Moore’s Law, we are using more and more material for ICT hardware. 2. Despite Koomey’s Law, we are using more and more energy for ICT services. 3. Despite increasing service-sector outputs, total material requirements are not decreasing.
  17. 17. ICT hardware is “de-energizing”– another success story In 70 years of electronic computing history, the energy efficiency of processors has increased by a factor of a million millions. Thousand Million Billion Trillion Quadrillion How many computations can a processor execute for 1 kWh? Source: Koomey, J., Berard, S., Sanchez, M. & Wong, H. (2011): Implications of Historical Trends in the Electrical Efficiency of Computing. Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE, 33 (3): 46-54
  18. 18. For my first laptop from the 1980ies, if it had to perform like my today’s laptop, I would have needed a “personal power plant”. Illustration of energy efficiency progress
  19. 19. 0.00 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.10 0.12 0.14 2007 2012 Global ICT electricity demand, in MWh/year x cap Data centers LCDs CRTs Laptops Desktops Telecom, Networks More than 100 kWh per year and person for ICT since 2007 Source: Aebischer, B., Hilty, L.M. (2015): The Energy Demand of ICT: A Historical Perspective and Current Methodological Challenges. In: ICT Innovations for Sustainability. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing. Springer, pp. 71-103 Global energy demand of ICT is increasing fast, despite the increasing energy efficiency of all devices involved.
  20. 20. Arguments: 1. Despite Moore’s Law, we are using more and more material for ICT hardware. 2. Despite Koomey’s Law, we are using more and more energy for ICT services. 3. Despite increasing service-sector outputs, total material requirements are not decreasing.
  21. 21. 1. Agriculture Forestry, Fishing, Mining 2. Manufacturing 3. Services 4. Information Services C. Clark’s theory of progression to a post-industrial economy Will deindustrialization lead to demateralization?
  22. 22. Countries with highest service sector output 0 2,000 4,000 6,000 8,000 10,000 12,000 14,000 16,000 UnitedStates China Japan Germany UnitedKingdom France Italy Brazil Canada India Russia Spain Australia SouthCorea Mexico Netherlands Turkey Switzerland Service sector output in Billion US-$ 0 10,000 20,000 30,000 40,000 50,000 60,000 70,000 UnitedStates China Japan Germany UnitedKingdom France Italy Brazil Canada India Russia Spain Australia SouthCorea Mexico Netherlands Turkey Switzerland Service sector output in Billion US-$ Per capita service sector output in US-$
  23. 23. 40 tons of material resources are extracted per person, of which 67% outside our country. 23 Example: TMR of Switzerland
  24. 24. 40 tons per person are ≈ factor 4 above the global average
  25. 25. Analog Digital Unsustainable Sustainable Image Source: Megan Hollis, Techsys Digital (TD) Blog, 2015
  26. 26. What would it mean to use ICT the right way? How would we use ICT in a world of scarce natural resources? (We live in such a world but are not aware of the scarcity) How would we use ICT if prices of all products would tell the truth about resource depletion, pollution, land use change, occupational health/labor conditions, and other externalities?
  27. 27. Vision 1: Self-sufficient communications infrastructure With further progress in energy efficiency of ICT and energy harvesting devices, it could be possible to create a self-sufficient communications infrastructure with long-lasting small nodes needing no external energy supply. Precursors: Energy harvesting network nodes, ad-hoc wireless network protocols
  28. 28. Vision 2: Collaboration in virtual environments replaces travel Physical travel with high carbon intensity Virtual meetings: Connecting people via ICT Collaboration in virtual environments Source: Coroama, V.C., Moberg, Å., Hilty, L.M. (2015): Dematerialization through Electronic Media? In: ICT Innovations for Sustainability. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing. Springer, 405-421
  29. 29. Vision 3: Recycling robots powered by abundant renewable energy The Flintstones’ garbage disposal pig Artificial Intelligence version of recycling device, working only during electricity supply peaks (store energy as material purity) digitize
  30. 30. Image Source: Megan Hollis, Techsys Digital (TD) Blog, 2015 What’s your vision of dematerialization? Thank you!

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