Categories
computing

programming to save the planet

Adrian Friday is Head of Department and Professor of Computing and Sustainability at Lancaster University.

Adrian Friday is Professor of Computing and Sustainability at Lancaster University talking about programmers power to create responsibly.

I loved creating new things

Vision for future

(Can computing save the world?) Computing has a role to play – it helps us understand the world.

Creating better systems

I think you have to be a bit of a party-pooper. Our business models and the way we chose to run society, the way those businesses run that want to see more demand..and as society I think we have to hold that to account. As scientists it is our responsibility to say ‘hang on a second, we are creating systems that are putting more computers into our homes just so you can switch the lights on, with an extra energy footprint, extra resource footprint’ and I think it is our responsibility to try and highlight that these are design elements that are not currently factored into our processes.

Technology is innately situated in the world –

There’s a perception that green technology will save us…because it is more efficient it is more sustainable…but I personally don’t believe that the future is more of the same.

There’s a community who care about the impact technology is having on the world and on people

Programming superpower to try to save the planet

We’ve got a bit hooked on new stuff, more convenience.

Socioecological systems…look at where people’s lives have impact

On demand shopping… how (in)efficient is that? And what of the social impact? If we just look at the movement, that’s a traditional computer science problem (travelling salesman), but when you add in the social, we have to talk with other people

(Is computing sustainable?) It’s on an unsustainable trajectory.

Unsustainable computing, we’re locked into cycles of updates. We’ve created an expectation of updates – people aren’t happy with keeping things the same.

How do we create systems of longevity? – that we want things to last?

We’re very good at design things that are quickly going to be obsolete.

Ubicomp as a scientific lens – computing is throughout the chain, affecting people’s lives in very direct ways – we have to be responsible practitioners.

People are focused on a particular thing – like being a really good computer scientist – they’re not there necessarily to become a sustainable computer scientist. So there’s a challenge in how we communicate that in an engaging way.

Definition: environmental sustainability… energy and carbon impacts…not the business interpretation that is often conflated.

Success: Freight transport projects, walking and hybrid routing problem – hoping that this will change policy – so having a greater impact.

Superpower: computer science, being able to create my vision through the power of programming. It’s one of those tools that lets you create the future, and realise your dreams. It sounds a bit saccharine but you could be passionate about crowdfunding for a charity, or transforming cancer care – you could go out and help people achieve that with your programming superpower. So I’m going to apply my programming superpower to try to save the planet.

Activist: No.

Motivation: Work ethic. I do have a passion for this topic, and that’s a little bit selfless because it’s probably not a career maker if I was to be purely self-centred, but I do think that it is really important.

Challenge: I can speaking to academic audience really well, but there are huge changes, we have to address the climate change emergency, we academics fly too much. We have to have more impact.

Miracle: A global summit about climate change that focuses

Advice: Read Mike Berners-Lee’s book.

There’s this idea that sustainability is about giving things up. But actually sustainability is about valuing the human and doing things differently. If we get it right, we can have quiet roads, less pollution, places for the kids to play, more wildlife…lots of benefits for humankind that we’re not currently realising.

Engage with the impacts., and lobby politicians so that it’s clear that it’s important to you.

Categories
art

Emotion and logic

Dr Rachel Jacobs is an artist based in Nottingham and London. She founded the collective Active Ingredient. Rachel completed a PhD in 2014 entitled ‘The Artist’s Footprint: Investigating the distinct contributions of artists engaging the public with climate change’.

We discuss many of Rachel’s projects, including A Conversation between trees (ACM), The Prediction Machine, and Rachel’s current project Performing the Future – a project looking at the future in response to environmental change.

The art of sharing, telling stories

Approach without an agenda

Emotional connection

The focus has been ‘how do understand the data more?’ but there’s a disconnect, we need to focus on ‘how data can be made more meaningful?’.

We need a combination of emotion and logic to act

I’d rather help people think about it and make sense in their own terms than have them get angry or defensive.

Feeling of future unfolding

(Positive) Something has changed, I hope it sticks

Sustainability: Not thinking sustainability as something different from how we live our lives.

Superpower: Caring about how people feel emotionally about the world.

Challenge: Future Machine

Miracle: Changing the causes of climate change

Advice: Try to find out as much as possible, be open minded, even things that scare me.

Categories
innovation

Positive, responsible innovation

Dr Helena Webb is a Senior Researcher in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford. Helena explores how people interact with technologies in different kinds of setting and how social action both shapes and is shaped by innovation. We talk about responsible innovation, opportunities for positive change, and running ethical hackathons in Zimbabwe.

Understanding the ways in which our lives are shaped by technological innovations.

Activist?: Yes and no. I want to do social good but need to be open to be criticised.

Motivation: Opportunities to find out and see into different contexts

Advice: Go with what you are interested in and go with that flow.

 

Categories
computing

rethinking impact



Lucy Pei is a PhD student at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at University of California Irvine. Lucy was volunteering at a literacy centre for resettled refugees and could see problems with the things she and others were doing – even though they we doing it properly. This led to her paper We Did It Right, But It Was Still Wrong: Toward Assets-Based Design.  We discuss how interventions often fall short of delivering lasting impact in resource-constrained contexts,and the need for different ways of thinking about impacts, and different time scales.

Wholly different ways of doing science interventions

We need a willingness to try, but carefully.



Categories
communication

golden thread: positive values

Kathy New is a researcher at Lancaster University on the socio-digital sustainability team. With a background in ecology and teaching and in the charity sector, Kathy is interested in social justice in energy markets, particularly the links between food poverty and fuel poverty.

If we’re looking for my golden thread, I would have to say values, positive values.

How to meld science, ethics and philosophy into one lovely, agreed, positive way for the planet.

Education to make a positive difference to lives of vulnerable people.

Success: Empowering women

Activist: Yes. I am active – if I see a problem I try and change it, don’t accept what is.

Superpower: Listening, asking questions

Motivation: Possibility of new day. Positivity.

Challenge: Finishing PhD

Miracle: For people to be kind to each other.

Advice: People know what is the right thing to do.

Categories
computing design

Imagining how things could be different

Ann Light is Professor of Design & Creative Technology at the University of Sussex and Prof of Interaction Design, Social Change and Sustainability at
Malmö University, Sweden.

Ann is a qualitative researcher specializing in design for social wellbeing, participatory design and social innovation, with a particular interest in creative practice for transformations to sustainability. She also studies how grassroots organizations use design.

How do we democratise futures?

Meaningful positives

Together as a force

Looking at how we can dwell together better

Systems to empower better human nature

Thought experiment workshops – we’re all in it together

I don’t work well from a position of hopelessness

How do we change the message? There’s a beautiful, kind, gentle…party going on

How things get connected and in balance

Something to hope for

Definition: Dwell together well

Superhero: Collectively we’ve imagined how things could be different

Activist: Yes, that’s my identity

Motivation: Realising potential

Miracle: Something for people to hope for.

Advice: Take that first act, find person who believes and do it together.