Up Next: ‘Conscious Computing:

From Energy Consumption to the Ethics of Data Viz’

(11am MDT, Fri. May 4th)

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  1. Shelby Carleton on May 4, 2018 at 11:11 am Reply

    LINK: Anders S.G. Andrae has lately been focusing on resource efficiency. Check out some of his recent publications on the emerging trends of electricity consumption:

  2. Howard Nye on May 4, 2018 at 11:26 am Reply

    Re. Anders Andrae: you mentioned that the 5G network will be more energy efficient, but that we’ll need to be careful not to use all of the capacity. Can you give us some advice – or point us to resources that can give us advice – as to what we can do to minimize our data / power usage (hopefully: while having a minimal impact on what we get out of using our devices)? Also in terms of public policy for incentivizing the reduction of fossil fuel burning computing: would the optimal intervention just be a general carbon tax and / or subsidization of green energy (like the provincial rebate we can get here in Alberta for installing solar panels), or is there something specific that would help with computing?

  3. Howard Nye on May 4, 2018 at 12:11 pm Reply

    Re organizers: Is there a way to edit a comment?

  4. Howard Nye on May 4, 2018 at 12:24 pm Reply

    @Minimal Computing Roundtable: I think that you mentioned not using or better using GUIs as an important way to reduce the environmental damage caused by our computing. I was wondering if you can give us some advice – or point us to resources that can give us advice – as to (i) how better to use our GUIs, and (ii) what, beyond less destructively using our GUIs, are some other ways we can reduce the environmental damage caused by our computing?

  5. Howard Nye on May 4, 2018 at 12:51 pm Reply

    @Minimal Computing Roundtable re. “exploitation”: Because access to export markets has been one of the main things responsible for lifting millions of the global poor out of absolute poverty I would caution you against the unthinking assumption that any economic interaction with the poor is “exploitative” in a sense that implies that it ought not be allowed. Do you have any reason to believe that the absolutely poor individuals you mention would be better off if they did not have the opportunity to take the difficult jobs in question for the compensation offered? If not then perhaps you should think twice before decrying the ability of the desperately poor to make a living, and not find it distasteful for them to earn compensations that would be very low to you, but pays much more than the alternatives open to them, and enables them to afford food medicine that will save the lives of their family members. Some of my ancestors were poor immigrants who came to the US from eastern Europe who had nothing to offer but their cheap labour, and I’m very grateful that they were allowed to make a living, and not prevented from doing so by out-of-touch elites refusing to allow anyone to purchase their services (and requiring everyone to buy more expensive services from richer individuals instead) because they found the compensation they were willing to accept distasteful.
    [Also I heard some casual bashing of “capitalism.” As I asked – and received no answer from – Petra yesterday: what do you mean by ‘capitalism’? Given that ‘capitalism’ was introduced by Marx as a posit in a predictive economic theory, and his predictive economic theory failed, it seems to me that the original use of ‘capitalism’, just like ‘phlogiston’, fails to refer to anything, as it is a posit of a failed scientific theory. As I said, those who complain about ‘capitalism’ sound to me (and many others) like they are just complaining about the private ownership of most productive assets and market economies, regardless of the degree of regulation and redistribution. But the most progressive economies in north Europe and the policies proposed by individuals like Bernie Sanders all very much involve a market economy where most assets are privately owned. Even functioning economies in countries that are nominally communist, like China, are market-based and involve private share ownership (North Korea, on the other hand, is what a centrally planned economy looks like). Progressive redistribution and pro-environmental regulation are entirely consistent with market economies and privately owned assets; moreover there may well be beneficial interactions between progressive economic policies (like those of northern Europe and proposed by Sanders) and pro-environmental policies, and both of these may well be politically feasible. But economically illiterate speculation about something other than markets and private shares in firms, regardless of the degree of progressive redistribution and pro-environmental regulation, is simply not helpful in the context of short to medium term policy discussions. Much worse, loud pronouncements of being against markets & private assets, with no proposed alternatives – leading one’s audience to suspect that one can only be in favour of the sort of state control that involves gulags and bread lines – seems to me to be extremely ineffective environmental advocacy.

  6. Howard Nye on May 4, 2018 at 6:02 pm Reply

    Dear leftist social scientists who pretend to be relativists when it seems to suit you in pushing your views: please stop the incoherent post-modernist pretense. You know very well that you think that there is a true empirical reality when you get upset at the “alternative facts” coming from the climate deniers and other right-wing ideologues and activists. Moreover you know very well that you think that some ethical views are more defensible than others – why is it that you always claim only that we have to be open to and not judge negatively the radical left / non-western views that fit with your ethical and economic presuppositions, but you never say that we have to be open to and not judge negatively certain right-wing and western views that do not? You should know that if you thought that all views about what is worth doing were equally correct you would never be able to make a decision to do anything. It is great if you try to be as objective and unbiased as you can in your empirical work (although some of you seem to be the first to decry attempts to be objective and unbiased as doomed and nothing but another right-wing western power play); but please realize that this does not entail that all ethical views are equally correct, that you actually think that all ethical views are equally correct (as opposed to its simply being the case that you just don’t work professionally on directly determining which basic ethical views are correct), or that there is no legitimate enterprise of trying to think as carefully and critically as you can about which ethical views actually are correct (in which you actually do engage in your everyday life and in which ethicists actually engage professionally in ways that can help to illuminate issues which you encounter in your everyday reasoning). Finally, as some of you seem fond of acknowledging, empirical science is not actually value free in the sense that what empirical questions are actually worth exploring depends very much upon what ethical views are correct. Obviously the only responsible thing to do is thus to engage in empirical research agendas that are informed by the most defensible ethical views, and to do that we must to earnestly determine via careful ethical argument what those ethical views are, rather than simply dismiss those who have different ethical views, attempt to censor them, or call them names (for instance but by no means limited to things like ‘racist’, ‘settler-colonist’, ‘white supremicist’, ‘greedy capitalist’, ‘sexist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘transphobe’, ‘cis-normativist’ – used nice and widely so that they apply to the vast majority of if not literally all ordinary individuals in western countries). This sort of behaviour can only serve to rally the base of supporters who already agree with all of the details of your world view, it alienates moderates / persuadable individuals who do not already agree with you in every detail, and it enrages and energizes your conservative opposition and encourages them to be just as ready to be tribalist towards and dismiss you with insults (e.g. ‘fake news’, ‘sjw’, ‘snowflake’, ‘feminazi’) as you are to be tribalist towards and dismiss them.

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