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RaenorShine

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Consumer Techology and the Internet
« on: February 26, 2014, 04:08:31 PM »
Came across this interesting piece on BBC news. It covers the market from a economic standpoint but is damning of it for a mainstream news site.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26336736

It's a really well argued piece about the current state of the technology market

a couple of quotes

Quote
Beware of the belief that the technology curve is an inevitable advance for good. More and more economic activity is now derived from things that simply do not matter. Futility beckons.

Quote
Historians tells us that one of the contributory factors to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire was the crippling expense of the state-organised circuses that distracted the populace from the tiresome realities of life in Rome.

I wonder whether we are now embarked on a similar trajectory, in our new futile economy.

The internet has changed a lot from its roots as a communications tool for scientists and academics (and of course the US Govt) to the mass entertainment and communication network it has become today.

From the environmental standpoint it's definately been a double edged sword.  Physical media sales (CD/DVD/Books/Newspapers etc) are all falling though the floor, and consuming these items on tablets etc can save resources (http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2010/08/should_you_ditch_your_books_for_an_ereader.html) But, we also upgrade our technology far too frequently due to built in obsolescence and our desire for the next big thing (can you really warrant an upgrade from an old working smartphone or tablet to a newer model based on functionality alone?)

Content and Video on the Web is also increasing hugely in quality and therefore bandwidth, with 4K and beyond around the corner. I dread to think how long most of the web takes to load on a non broadband connection nowadays.  All of this could politely be called 'nice to have' at best and a complete waste of resources at worst.

As Neven said on the Global Economics thread the internet has become an essential for most of us now (me included). Could the internet be good (or at least neutral) for the environment in the long term, possibly, but on the course we are going on with it I doubt it.

Shared Humanity

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Re: Consumer Techology and the Internet
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2014, 06:20:15 PM »
The internet and the two way communication and discussion that it supports is the single biggest threat to BAU on the planet. Governments and businesses understand this which is why there are ongoing efforts to squelch these internet communities that are forming.

JimD

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Re: Consumer Techology and the Internet
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2014, 06:28:01 PM »
The internet and the two way communication and discussion that it supports is the single biggest threat to BAU on the planet. Governments and businesses understand this which is why there are ongoing efforts to squelch these internet communities that are forming.

SH

Could you expand on what you mean here a bit?  I can interpret what you said in a way that I really agree with it and also in a way that I really disagree with it.   Thanks.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Shared Humanity

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Re: Consumer Techology and the Internet
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2014, 07:05:05 PM »
The internet and the two way communication and discussion that it supports is the single biggest threat to BAU on the planet. Governments and businesses understand this which is why there are ongoing efforts to squelch these internet communities that are forming.

SH

Could you expand on what you mean here a bit?  I can interpret what you said in a way that I really agree with it and also in a way that I really disagree with it.   Thanks.

First, I do not hold up the internet as our salvation. It is not. I believe I read somewhere that pornography sites get the most traffic in the U.S. The internet is, however, a useful technology that helps to knit world wide communities together that have common interests. This wonderful site is an example. Totalitarian governments see this ability to build community as a threat and, to the extent that they can, they restrict access. China does this fairly well. But, even in western Democracies, large and sometimes shadowy branches of government spend much of their time monitoring and, yes, disrupting sites they find objectionable, that threaten the status quo or BAU.

For this reason. I see the internet as a potential huge plus if we don't spend all of our time visiting porn sites.  8)

Andreas T

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Re: Consumer Techology and the Internet
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2014, 07:29:48 PM »
What seems to be missing from this discussion is the energy requirement associated with me sitting here running a machine which has an embedded energy from its manufacture, requires a not insignificant amount to run (helps to keep me warm at this time of the year, so not entirely wasted) and requires more to send signals around and keep all this (much appreciated as far as ASIF is concerned) content available to me whenever I fancy having a look.
I have no idea how much this actually requires to be generated somewhere, does anybody have good figures?

Shared Humanity

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Re: Consumer Techology and the Internet
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2014, 07:45:58 PM »
What seems to be missing from this discussion is the energy requirement associated with me sitting here running a machine which has an embedded energy from its manufacture, requires a not insignificant amount to run (helps to keep me warm at this time of the year, so not entirely wasted) and requires more to send signals around and keep all this (much appreciated as far as ASIF is concerned) content available to me whenever I fancy having a look.
I have no idea how much this actually requires to be generated somewhere, does anybody have good figures?

I will not vouch for the accuracy but here is some info.

http://www.techthefuture.com/technology/how-much-electricity-does-the-internet-use/

JimD

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Re: Consumer Techology and the Internet
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2014, 08:14:26 PM »
SH

Got it.

One of the items which concerned me was the very one Andreas brought up.  Once we drift down the collapse curve a sufficient distance the internet has to fall by the wayside as does ready access to sophisticated computer technology.  Not to say that remaining power centers (especially the military/intelligence units) will not have access to serious capabilities.  But the WWW and vast archiving of data?  That will go the way of the Dodo bird for the average citizen.  The resource and industrial requirements to maintain and create this kind of technology has only been achieved at the pinnacle of civilizational complexity and energy accessability.  We will not have to drift down that pyramid very far before that kind of complexity becomes very difficult to maintain.  And there is always the possibility that governments will just turn it off when push comes to shove as a way of trying to maintain control.  The internet is one of the most fragile pieces of technology we have.

The ability of social media to change world events is VASTLY overrated.  While we can point to a few instances of where it seemed to have had a  large impact such as Egypt and China, I point out the end result of where we are today.  Not much of an impact at all.  New technology frequently results in a window of time that it can be successfully exploited before the counter technologies are developed and in place.  It is like an arms race.  It has not taken the government, military and intelligence communities all that long to get a handle on how to effectively counter any technology.  Back when I used to chase various terrorists around the world there came a time when they all (the smart ones anyway) switched to cell phones and disappeared for a time. We adapted and then for a time cell phone use became the quickest way for them to transition to an early demise (except for the real smart ones).  Some drifted to the internet, same process, same result.  The way of war.  People who think that the internet will be an exception to that need to keep in mind the NSA leaks by Snowdon. 

BTW I read the other day that in the US Netflix now consumes more bandwidth than any other use.  Must mean that porn is now in 2nd place  ;)  One can also make the argument that Netflix and porn are just means to keep the populace sedated and the government is quite happy with them.   
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

RaenorShine

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Re: Consumer Techology and the Internet
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2014, 08:17:40 PM »
I will not vouch for the accuracy but here is some info.

http://www.techthefuture.com/technology/how-much-electricity-does-the-internet-use/

They seem to match the information I pulled up in a quick google search 

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/environment/green_event_toolkit/footprinting.html

The thing which sticks out to me on these is how much more efficient a tablet is compared to the laptop, that bodes well as that is the way browsing seems to be going.

The slate article in the first post mentioned the lifetime carbon cost of a iPad (including manufacture and use) as 130kg of Carbon Dioxide (or the manufacture of 19 paperback books). 


RaenorShine

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Re: Consumer Techology and the Internet
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2014, 08:31:52 PM »
I'd say that modern society in the West would not be able to function without the internet in some form or another now, the reality of Just in Time distribution and delivery of Government services demands it.

In an emergency situation I could see throttling of bandwidth hungry applications (anyone remember all the news sites ditching all the graphics etc just after 9/11 to cope with demand) but some sort of internet would be maintained outside of a full blackout.

A different thread might be in order to discuss the affects of the internet on campaign groups etc.  but the police and security groups monitored them (and slept with some of them) long before the internet was born.