Andy Hopper: Computing for the Future of the Planet

May 30, 2008 3:30 pm | Comments Off on Andy Hopper: Computing for the Future of the Planet

I recently hosted Andy Hopper (University of Cambridge) at Google to deliver his talk on Computing for the Future of the Planet (YouTube video). He covered a variety of areas that ranged from practical deployment issues that should be addressed today to futuristic concepts. The beginning of the talk, the part that was of most interest to me, was about energy efficient computing: adaptive datacentres and a “virtual battery” (moving computing tasks to where energy is available). Power consumption is certainly a key focus for Google and other large web companies. It’s intriguing to think about shifting data and processes in real time based on the cost of energy.

Another of Andy’s interests is sentient computing. He presented a digital world model based on sensors, both indoors and outdoors, and possible applications. Imagine the ability to automatically construct your daily transportation carbon profile based on where and how quickly your mobile phone travels. The digital world brings benefits, especially to the developing world, because it can be constructed using miniscule power and made accessible to every human. The “unbounded upside of computing” is a strong motivator for web developers as we build our apps to be global and deploy them in a power conscious way.

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