If technology is causing climate change, can tech also reverse it?
In this InTechnology video, Tom and Camille talk with Dr. Tamar Eilam, IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist for Sustainable Computing. They get into what’s driving sustainability in computing, how hardware and software developers are approaching sustainable computing, and how technology is changing how we tackle climate change.
Reducing Carbon Emissions with Sustainable Computing
Carbon emissions are a leading cause of climate change, and sustainable computing can help reduce carbon emissions and carbon footprints. But in order to do this, there are three main driving factors of energy consumption in computing to consider.
The first factor is the massive amounts of data and data transfer our modern technologies require. Making Zoom calls, streaming movies and video games, etc. are all great examples. The more we use them, the more energy we need to transfer and store all that data.
Another factor comes from new energy-hungry workloads in the cloud like AI that constantly require exponential amounts of energy. There are also physical limits to just how much more energy efficient we can make computer chips, which Tamar defines as the flattening of Moore’s law.
How Hardware and Software Developers Are Approaching Sustainability in Computing
Hardware and software are two sides of the same coin when it comes to sustainable computing. When it comes to hardware, developers have kept sustainability a priority for years now. Tamar shares how computer chips are always being made smaller and more energy efficient.
Yet when it comes to software, there’s a lot of catching up to do. Software developers are only now starting to design software that reduces energy consumption on the hardware side. This is done by writing more sustainable code, creating more efficient algorithms, software and system co-design, and many other approaches.
Both hardware and software need to be optimized for sustainability.
New Technology Is Changing How We Tackle Climate Change
As Tamar says, there’s no undoing the Industrial Revolution. So, all we can do now is use the technology we have and develop new technologies to improve sustainability. We can do this by better leveraging renewable energy with load balancing in cloud computing, writing more sustainable code, and using more AI to find new solutions to climate change.
Dr. Tamar Eilam, IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist for Sustainable Computing
Dr. Tamar Eilam is an IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist for Sustainable Computing. She joined IBM Research in 2000 and spent the past twenty years studying disruptive technologies. With a passion for sustainability and applying innovation to address the biggest problems facing humanity today, Tamar has become an internationally recognized keynote speaker with over 100 publications, patents, and presentations. She has received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Technion—Israel Institute of Technology.
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