Sustainability and computing’s heart of prostitution

Posted on July 11, 2007


The reason for educating about Sustainability in Computing has never been stronger nor more urgent.Logan Muller with Peruvian lady

Dr Logan Muller has extensive experience in computing for sustainability. He developed NZ’s first commercial backbone, primarily as a means for supporting regional development. Over the last few years he has been active internationally (see Peruvian Poverty Elimination Project, he is now working in the Amazon and SE Asia).

Logan presents a strong argument for the urgency of transforming computing.

He presents a compelling set of statistics, backed by dramatic images of his first hand experiences (some of the images here). He finishes with a question:

My question is this … what has computing become?

What is its purpose? And what do we as its protagonists represent?

What is its soul?

To me the industry is like an addict, who is obsessed with its passion or poison, sells itself to any bidder in order to continue its habit… ours being the unguided obsessive need to produce more , upgrade go faster and sell .. with little or no regard to the impact our science has, and is continuing to have of this little planet we call home.

I have 5 tertiary qualifications, and was ignorant and the completion of these to the realities of the majority of earths inhabitants and to the state of the environment and to ability of my children and their children to live here.

We must accept that our science has been a driving force behind the earth and humanity’s degradation and suffering and we must ask ourselves WHY?

We represent the educated elite of the 1st world, in a science that has become an invasive and integral part of every sector of the developed world. We must make the effort to incorporate Sustainability into all computing teaching, learning and practice. We must make the effort to build awareness in our students of the powerful impact our science has on this earth and its inhabitants.

Logan helped run the first NZ workshop on computing education for sustainability in Nelson.

Some more Logan quotes:

We live in a world where the premise of growth and productivity are unquestioned guiding philosophies and whose requirements and entrenchment are the focus of ICT development and enhancement.

Yet despite the belief that growth and prosperity measured in these economic terms, supported and dependant on our computing sciences, is the pathway to a safer, happier world of decreasing poverty and a better lifestyle – there is another side… the 1st world growth hailed and based upon consumption and profit has had dire impact on the environment and world living orders, much of which remains masked from the 1st world consumer.

We have the widest digital and income divides ever in recorded history

Where ICT has been used to keep these nations in a state of turmoil to benefit 1st world profiteers, Persia, Panama, Indonesia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Sierra Leon, Iraq, and an unknown human tragedy.. the Congo where what drives your cell phone , Colton, is from a country where 4 million peasants have been killed and convenient wars still rage

Despite priding ourselves on the most advanced Communication technologies in history, a first world consumer still does not know of the source and impact of the products they buy and, by default, the actions they support .. Diamonds by fingerless children, Gold and precious metals from mines still dumping arsenic into water supplies, Colton, oil, timber from non regenerable sources further stripping the ability of our children to breath etc the list in goes on

The best ERP systems exist and are implemented by multinational companies driven by our economic doctrines and 1st world consumers, invited by the world bank and IMF to set up shop in developing countries but these systems select conveniently not to record nor trace the impacts of their owners actions on the environment, communities society and countries.