‘A World Without:’ Adequate Energy for Computing Demands
We continue Worldview’s limited series, “A World Without,” with a conversation on energy sustainability in and computer habits. In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted that the size of a computer of the same processing power would shrink by half with every year. That meant that for the same electrical power, computing power would double. Now, with the rise of nanotechnology, Moore’s law has just about run out. That means that if we are to keep up our increasing computing habits, we’ll have to build bigger computers that draw on more electricity. Unless radical new discoveries are made in computing technology, scientists predict that by 2040, computers will need more electricity to run than the earth will be able to produce. In some parts of the world, the blockchain technology behind bitcoin already draws more electricity from the local grid than is sustainable. By 2020, scientists predict that bitcoin technology will draw more electricity than the entire country of Denmark. Eighty percent of the earth’s energy still comes from fossil fuels, so the debate over increasing energy production for our rising computing needs is tied into energy sustainability. To discuss, we’re joined by energy and environment writer Peter Fairley. He runs the Carbon Nation website and is a contributing editor at IEEE Spectrum.