device itself may be the best solution to achieve
low latency. That configuration, however, may place
untenable demands on a portable energy source such
as a battery. In contrast, dependence on the cloud
places greater demands on core networks and central
processing while introducing latency.
Each application and the strategies for optimizing the
resulting user experience while holistically considering
the impacts on various elements of the ICT ecosystem
will require deep analysis to achieve optimum efficiency.
This is where things get interesting.
Greening Begets Greening
The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) has
demonstrated ICT itself has the potential to reduce
the global carbon footprint by an amount equal to
roughly about 10 times of its own. As we green ICT,
we increase its ability to green other networked
systems, such as those dedicated to healthcare,
agriculture, education, transportation—you name it.
It turns out that augmented and virtual reality
provide useful tools for modeling ICT networks
in such a way that will reveal the trade-offs just
mentioned. We can use augmented and virtual reality
to help design the most efficient, dynamic, adaptable
ICT networks to lower their energy use and thus their
Just as the mainstream embrace of augmented and
virtual reality applications begin adding to the burden
on ICT networks and introduce new challenges
to sustainability, these applications will likely also
produce new pathways to sustainability. Add a dash of
artificial intelligence or “machine learning,” if you will,
and such systems might be designed for continuous
self-improvement in increasing efficiencies and
decreasing carbon footprints.
In turn, we can apply aspects of augmented and
virtual reality, as well as efficient ICT networks, to the
challenge of improving the efficiencies and sustainability
of all those aforementioned industry verticals.
The proverbial big picture becomes even more
complex when one considers how to power
augmented and virtual reality applications and
centralized or distributed ICT resources. As
distributed energy resources achieve greater
efficiencies, they too become a factor. Some
applications and aspects of ICT networks require
instant, consistent energy, while other actions can be
accomplished when energy is available.
It’s entirely feasible that end-users may play a role
in deciding the efficiency and sustainability of their
own actions and demands on applications and ICT
Consumer Role In Sustainability
Just as augmented and virtual reality may present
challenges and potential solutions to sustainability, so
may end-users, the consumers of these applications.
I can imagine, for example, that handheld and
wearable technologies may present users with a
choice: will you accept some latency in your selected
application in order to make it greener? Perhaps such
choices will become automated and the user merely
indicates his or her predilection for the greenest use
of applications on offer and further decision-making is
made by the device.
At that point with the global community trending
towards awareness of the sustainability issues that
connect each person’s choices with the health of our
planet, we collectively will choose the optimal path.
In the meantime, every person involved in writing
code, designing microprocessors or ICT networks,
developing applications—everyone in the entire
ecosystem—must work towards intelligent, energy-
efficient designs that support the fundamental goal of
sustainability. As I’ve illustrated here, sustainability
can build on itself in ways that may meet our most
complex challenges. ECN
© 2017 Universe Kogaku (America) Inc.
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