söndag 10 april 2016

Computing within Limits: Visions of computing beyond Moore’s law

My colleague Elina and me submitted a (full-day) workshop proposal to the upcoming (August 29 - September 1) 4th International Conference on ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S). The conference will be held in Amsterdam and this year's theme is ‘Smart and Sustainable’. The actual proposal was submitted a month ago. I didn't write a blog post about back then because I didn't write any blog posts at all at that time. This is thus the first blog post in a string of posts during the coming weeks that will treat topics that in fact happened some time ago (December - March).

While it was me and Elina who did the heavy lifting, we have a number of co-organisers and we hope they all will all be able to attend the conference (and of course the workshop). Here's the complete list of organisers:
- Elina Eriksson & Daniel Pargman ​(KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden)
- Lorenz Hilty ​(University of Zürich, Switzerland)
- Adrian Friday ​(Lancaster University, UK)
- Chris Preist ​(University of Bristol, UK)
- Teresa Cerratto Pargman ​(Stockholm University, Sweden)

The workshop proposal was submitted a month ago and we have since found out that it has been accepted - so you are all welcome to attend ICT4S and our workshop! We especially hope to not only get attendees from the academic world but also industry representatives. We don't yet know which day the workshop will be held, but we have expressed our preference for organising it right before (August 30) rather than right after (September 2) the main conference.

The proposal is three pages long and has headers for "anticipated workshop outcome", "workshop format", "target audience" etc. I here settle for describing the "motivation and objectives of the workshop":

Computing within Limits: Visions of computing beyond Moore's law
In ICT4S and in the field of computing in general, we generally assume that a transition to a sustainable society can be supported by various mitigation strategies; of using ICT to decrease energy use, make transportation more efficient and utilize ICT to decrease carbon emissions and environmental impacts (GeSI 2012). Some computer researchers have however started to explore alternative scenarios. What if ​mitigation​ doesn’t work out and we instead have to think about ​adaptation (​ Tomlinson et al. 2012)? What if we will come up against various ecological, material, energetic, and/or societal limits (c.f. “Limits to Growth”, Meadows et. al., 1973) that will also profoundly affect the field of computing in the coming decades? These questions have lately started to be explored under the terms “collapse informatics” (Tomlinson et al. 2013) and the more recent term “Computing within Limits” (Nardi 2015). A international workshop on Computing within Limits was organised in 2015 at University of California Irvine (Pargman and Raghavan 2015).

This workshop introduces Computing within Limits to an ICT4S audience and invites workshop participants to collaboratively explore scenarios that go beyond usually assumed predictions (Moore’s law etc.) within the field of computing. There are many disruptive factors that could come into play within the next decade such as severe mandated cutbacks in CO2 emissions, chaotic effects of climate change, a rewired energy system, or, various economic woes (new economic crises, deglobalisation, high unemployment etc).

We will develop a limited number (2­4) of scenarios at the workshop and work through various implications of these scenarios; what research is or will be needed, what ICT will people use and what would be needed, what are the implications for industry? How does this all differ from what we focus on today? The goal of the workshop is to develop an agenda by proposing various research questions that would be relevant to explore if we take various biophysical limits and Computing with Limits seriously.

- GeSI (2012) ​GeSI SMARTer 2020: The Role of ICT in Driving a Sustainable Future.​- Meadows,D.H.,Meadows,D.L.,Randers,J.,andBehrens,W.W.T​ helimitstogrowth.​New York, 1972.
- Nardi, B. ​Priorities for ICT4S: What we can do for a future of descent. ​Keynote at the EnviroInfo and ICT4S 2015 conference, Copenhagen (2015)
- Pargman, D. and Raghavan, B. ​Introduction to LIMITS '15: First workshop on computing within limits.​ First Monday, 20, 8 (2015).
- Tomlinson, B., Patterson, D.J., Pan, Y., Blevis, E., Nardi, B., Silberman, S., Norton, J., and LaViola Jr, J.J. ​What if sustainability doesn't work out?​ interactions, 19, 6 (2012), 50­55.
- Tomlinson, B., Blevis, E., Nardi, B., Patterson, D.J., Silberman, M., and Pan, Y. ​Collapse informatics and practice: Theory, method, and design.​ ACM Transactions on Computer­Human Interaction (TOCHI), 20, 4 (2013).

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