Every year on April 22, we observe Earth Day. But it’s high time we need to start thinking of giving back to Earth. In all our IT innovations, we need to start focusing on how to make it more Environment Friendly. Work in this area has already started.
We need to reduce the negative impact on environmental performance and ecosystem. This happens when we can reduce use of energy in our computers and accessories. We can also think of disposing off the end-of-life products. We can help in improving the energy efficiency of our equipment leading to reduction in Greenhouse gas emissions. Large scale use of equipment can cause a serious problem of disposal at the end of life.
Raise Awareness with Usage of Eco-friendly Trends
First there is the impact from producers of IT products and services and, also from the consumers of such products and services. In this case, the consumers of these products and services can choose energy efficient products. There can be concept of recycling and re-use approach to purchase of goods and its disposal. For example, Fairphone is an example of such a type of phone. There are few new companies which produces modular mobile phones. You can interchange parts of the mobile with newer functionality parts.
The second type of impact is based on how the product or service is designed to reduce environmental impacts outside the technology producing companies and direct from the applications. Examples can be greater use of energy, emission of more heat, etc. We can think of smart electric cars for having fuel efficiency, intelligent heating and lighting systems in houses.
Physical equipment is replaced with services or digital products. Video conferencing also can reduce business travel, which in turn, reduces environmental impacts. There can also be certain products like a new very high-speed processor requiring higher cooling system, thus impacting the environment. We can also have certain chips embedded in other items and now disposing the item becomes difficult. Bottles or boxes or toys with microchips embedded in them can lead to issues of disposing these otherwise simple items.
We can have sensor-based network that collect data and uses AI/ML and Data Science to come out with some meaningful information to help see the impact on the environment and help in taking long-term decisions. Auto shutting down of non-critical equipment and turning them on when required, will help in protecting environment.
Examples of New Trends in technology is DNA Computing and Storage. Using DNA and biochemistry in place of traditions items like silicon can make a drastic change. We can encode data in synthetic DNA for storage of very high volume of data. In June 2019, 16 GB of text from Wikipedia’s English language was been encoded into synthetic DNA. This is at a very elementary level. DNA Computing and storage will transform the way storage is done, processing of parallelism and computing efficiency. DNA of Things will be the next.
More research is going on in areas of Bio-degradable sensors and carbon-based transistors. The overall power will increase manyfold while the impact on the environment will reduce drastically.
More and more research and experimentation need to be done in this area. Considering the impact of innovation on the environment needs to be considered starting from the ideation and will continue throughout the lifecycle stages. There needs to be compliance for meeting the environment impact objective and also ensuring proper disclosure of the same to some Governance body.
Let us all take part in this concern for our Earth and keep environmental concerns in all innovations we do from now on.
~ Dr. Niladri Choudhuri