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The Icon Bar: Programming: The environmental cost of software
 
  The environmental cost of software
  adrianl (08:56 8/12/2018)
  Elesar (16:48 8/12/2018)
    Phlamethrower (18:20 8/12/2018)
      adrianl (01:27 9/12/2018)
        Phlamethrower (12:03 9/12/2018)
          CJE (11:24 17/1/2019)
            davidb (09:58 18/1/2019)
 
Adrian Lees Message #124401, posted by adrianl at 08:56, 8/12/2018
Member
Posts: 1578
Anyone ever wonder about this, or read anything about it? I'd be interested in reading any efforts at estimating it.

It's something I think about; if software can be massively speeded up because it's performing a lot of redundant computation, and/or using poor algorithms, then it must be using a lot more cycles and thus electrical power than necessary.

If I'm honest, I think even most programmers are not really suited to expressing the 'how' of solving a problem, and it would be great if we were able to offload that responsibility to the computer itself, but it's a massively complex - combinatorially explosive - problem to find the shortest sequence of operations to compute a particular result, even without considering alternative approaches.
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Robert Sprowson Message #124402, posted by Elesar at 16:48, 8/12/2018, in reply to message #124401
Member
Posts: 11
Anyone ever wonder about this, or read anything about it? I'd be interested in reading any efforts at estimating it.
Not directly, but an article from the Guardian a few years ago sticks in mind for how much energy is wasted processing spam email.

If only the power could be harvested for good...
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Jeffrey Lee Message #124403, posted by Phlamethrower at 18:20, 8/12/2018, in reply to message #124402
PhlamethrowerHot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot stuff

Posts: 15070
Save the planet, ban cryptocurrency.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/11/07/cryptocurrency_mining_energy/
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Adrian Lees Message #124404, posted by adrianl at 01:27, 9/12/2018, in reply to message #124403
Member
Posts: 1578
Save the planet, ban cryptocurrency.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/11/07/cryptocurrency_mining_energy/
Thanks both.

Yes, I've read of the cost of crypto-mining in the past. I wonder if that was anticipated by the creators of the first (few) cryptocurrencies.

It's a shame really, because superficially one might have thought that a purely digital/virtual currency ought to have a lower environmental cost than mining and forging metals etc.
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Jeffrey Lee Message #124405, posted by Phlamethrower at 12:03, 9/12/2018, in reply to message #124404
PhlamethrowerHot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot stuff

Posts: 15070
I think the thing that annoys/baffles me the most about bitcoin and other similar crypto currencies is that the expensive computations that are used to "mine" the coins and perform transactions have no value to society. They're just computationally expensive for the sake of being computationally expensive. Compared to traditional currencies (rare metals) they have no intrinsic value - metals are useful because they're used in manufacturing, or because we think they look nice as jewellery. Bitcoin is useful for neither.

Why couldn't digital currencies be based around calculations that are useful to society, like protein folding, processing space data for SETI/asteroid detection, testing the strength of encryption methods, etc.?
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Chris Evans Message #124436, posted by CJE at 11:24, 17/1/2019, in reply to message #124405
CJE Micros chap
Posts: 205
Talking of wasted computer power. I enjoy doing two or tree times a week a hard Sudoku and have recently done some Killer Sudoku's (A cross between a standard Sudoku and Kakuro with no numbers pre filled) I wonder if there are any problems that a human can do as well or better than a computer and be beneficial to society, whilst still being interesting enough to provide motivation!
Recognising objects in photos is something computers are still not as good at as humans, but it wouldn't be very interesting as a pass-time or very practical. Any other suggestions?

[Edited by CJE at 17:26, 17/1/2019]
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David Boddie Message #124437, posted by davidb at 09:58, 18/1/2019, in reply to message #124436
Member
Posts: 124
The Zooniverse site hosts lots of projects that use humans to analyse data. There might be something there that interests you.
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The Icon Bar: Programming: The environmental cost of software