Paper Bonanza at LIMITS and ICT4S!

The MID4S group has been exceptionally productive and submitted multiple papers to the Computing within Limits (LIMITS’20) workshop and ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S’20) conference this year. These are the papers that are accepted and that will be presented between June 21 and June 25, 2020. Below are the seven titles and abstracts, 6 papers accepted conference papers and 1 journal paper presented in a journal first track, in the order of when they will be presented. Participation this year is free, so please sign up and listen to us!

Diminishing space: peer-to-peer sharing as a transition practice (link to paper)
Miriam Börjesson Rivera, Elina Eriksson, Rob Comber

A regenerative thriving future within limits will require a change of social practices. Such a change will however not come by itself, and it is safe to state that computing in different forms and shapes will be critical. In this paper we evaluate a start-up in the form of an online platform supporting peer-to-peer storage space rentals. We will present and analyse their service and discuss the current and future prospects for systems in this genre, in light of the transition to a post-carbon future society. The analysis is grounded in a user study evaluating the system in its current form. We argue that services like the one offered by these types of companies could function as a type of ‘transition service’ in the sense that they are perhaps an interim self-obviating system that enable people to get accustomed to a new way of thinking about current unsustainable practices (in this case storage practices and sharing of storage), but eventually might become unnecessary/superfluous as a new ecology of storage practices comes into place. Hence, it might be important for these services and the companies behind them to prepare for this eventuality, for example by diversifying their business offer.

Skill rebound: On an unintended effect of digitalization (link to paper)
Vlad C. Coroamă, Daniel Pargman

Efficiency gains in economic processes often do not deliver the projected overall savings. Irrespective of whether the increase in efficiency saves energy, resources, time or transac- tion costs, there are various mechanisms that spur additional consumption as a consequence. These mechanisms are gener- ically called rebound effects, and they are problematic from a sustainability perspective as they decrease or outweigh the environmental benefits of efficiency gains. Since one of the overarching purposes of digitalization is to increase effi- ciency, rebound effects are bound to occur frequently in its wake. Rebound effects of digitalization have been ignored until recently, but they have been increasingly studied lately. One particular mechanism of digital rebound, however, has been largely disregarded so far: the digitalization-induced lowered skill requirements needed to perform a specific ac- tivity. As with other types of rebound effects, this leads to an increase in the activity in question. In this paper, we pro- pose the term skill rebound to denote this mechanism. We use the example of self-driving cars to show how digitaliza- tion can lower the skill bar for operating a vehicle, and how this opens ‘driving’ a car to entirely new socio-demographic categories such as elderly, children or even pets, leading to increased use of the (transportation) service in question and thus to rebound effects. We finally argue that these unin- tended environmental effects of skill rebound must be better understood and taken into account in the design of new digital technologies.

From Moore’s Law to the Carbon Law (link to paper)
Daniel Pargman, Aksel Biørn-Hansen, Elina Eriksson, Jarmo Laaksolahti, Markus Robèrt

In society in general and within computing in particular, there has, and continues to be, a focus on faster, cheaper, better etc. Such perspectives clash with the fact that impeding climate change and the need for radically decreased CO2 emissions (c.f. the Paris Agreement) will have fundamental and far-reaching ramification for computing and for all other sectors of society during the coming decades.

In the call for the first Computing within Limits workshop, it was stated that “A goal of this community is to impact society through the design and development of computing systems in the abundant present for use in a future of limits and/or scarcity.” There have since been several contributions to Computing within Limits that have accepted the challenge of discussing and imagining what such systems as well as what “a future of limits and/or scarcity” could look like. Despite this, there is currently no consensus about what exactly such a future entails and the community can consequently only offer hazy ideas about exactly what systems we should strive to design and develop. The basic problem can be summed up as follows: we know that fundamental changes are necessary and will come, but we still struggle with envisioning what a post-growth/decarbonising society looks like and what computing systems need to be designed and developed for use in such futures, or, to support that transition.

In this paper we argue that the work of imagining an actionable “future of limits” could benefit from using the “carbon law” as a starting point. The carbon law is based on work in the environmental sciences and we exemplify how it can be used to generate requirements that can guide the development of computing systems for a future of limits. While these lessons are general, we exemplify by describing a research project that aims to support the KTH Royal Institute of Technology’s goal of – in line with the carbon law – radically reducing CO2 emissions from academic flying over the next decade. We give examples of how computing can aid in this task, including by presenting visualisation tools that we have developed to support the KTH carbon abatement goals. We also discuss the role of computer science in general and of Computing within Limits in particular in supporting the transition to a more sustainable (or at least a less unsustainable) future.

Introducing financial data and groups in a carbon calculator – issues with trust and opportunities for social interaction (link to paper)
Aksel Biørn-Hansen, Wolmet Barendregt, David Andersson

A range of carbon footprint calculators have emerged over the years, aiming at promoting pro-environmental behaviour through providing information about what impact people have on the environment. Up until recently, most of these calculators have been focusing on providing feedback on an individual level. This paper presents an exploratory study of a new kind of carbon footprint calculator, which offers a social and collective dimension not found in many other existing calculators. This is done through the introduction of a group feature allowing people to engage with and compare themselves to each other. The calculator also makes use of real-time financial data in combination with user generated data in order to provide reliable and continuous estimates of a person’s carbon footprint. Through an explorative study, in which we conducted two in-depth interviews with four participants, we have investigated the reactions to using the carbon calculator for the first time as well as after two to three weeks of unsupervised use. Our study indicates that the use of transaction data does not automatically lead to a higher trust in the calculated carbon footprint due to the numerous insecurities that are revealed. Registry data on the other hand seems to be appreciated because it eases the input that people have to provide anyway. While groups seem to be a promising feature, there is a need to investigate what information about people’s carbon footprints should be shared as well as how the groups and the interaction with the carbon calculator can be kept lively and interesting over time.

On the necessity of flying and of not flying: Exploring how computer scientists reason about academic travel (link to paper)
Elina Eriksson, Daniel Pargman, Markus Robèrt, Jarmo Laaksolahti

In order to fulfill the Paris agreement, we need to drastically reduce carbon emissions globally. 2020 is a pivotal year in this endeavour as many projections indicate that emissions need to decrease significantly before 2030. This challenge pertains to all parts of society, including (computer science) researchers. This however clashes with the fact that flying to a large extent has become built-in to the everyday practices of research and of academic life. It is feasible to imagine that computer scientists could fly less than other academics since we ought to be innovators and early adopters of computer-mediated alternatives such as video-conferencing and other forms of digital meeting technologies. It is however also possible that we fly more because conferences might be a more dominant outlet for publications in our field in comparison to other research fields. At KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the researchers at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) fly the most. In this paper, we present initial qualitative results from a survey regarding travel that was answered by computer scientists at EECS. We are in particular analysing the free text answers in order to understand how computer scientists reason about their own flying and about the alternatives. It will be hard to fulfil the Paris agreement without decreasing flying significantly, but this requires us to rethink how we do research, and how we travel (or not) within academia. This paper contributes with knowledge about the perceived barriers and drivers for computer scientists to decrease their flying.

A Systematic Review of Digital Behaviour Change Interventions for More Sustainable Food ConsumptionJournal first (link to paper)
Björn Hedin, Cecilia Katzeff, Elina Eriksson, Daniel Pargman

Food production and consumption present major sustainability challenges, and finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of food, for example through behavioural changes by consumers, is becoming increasingly important. In recent years, digital interventions have become important tools to change behaviours in many areas. In this review, we evaluate the status of current scientific knowledge of digital behaviour change interventions for sustainable food consumption practices. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) checklist for how to conduct systematic reviews, we searched multiple databases for papers containing terms related to food, sustainability and digital behaviour change interventions. Only studies where the digital interventions were actually implemented and evaluated from a behaviour change perspective were included, resulting in 15 primary studies in the final review. The quality of the studies was evaluated from a behaviour change perspective, and the approaches used were categorised using two intervention frameworks, the Behaviour Change Wheel and the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy v1. The results show that all of the included studies had major quality issues when evaluated from a behaviour change perspective. This means that we could not find any evidence regarding whether the digital behaviour change interventions examined worked or not. Most studies further lacked theoretical grounding or a clear approach to how or why they should be effective for behaviour change for more sustainable food consumption practices. Our main recommendation for future research in the field is to expand from the current exploratory phase to conducting scientifically rigorous studies of higher quality, more thoroughly grounded in behaviour change theory and methods. Furthermore, based on our study, we suggest changes to the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy v1.

Systems Thinking exercises in Computing Education – broadening the scope of ICT and sustainability (link to paper)
Elina Eriksson, Miriam Börjesson Rivera, Björn Hedin, Daniel Pargman, Hanna Hasselqvist

Integrating sustainability in computing education entails broadening the scope of the education, but how can that be done while maintaining student engagement? Climate change and species extinction can appear far removed from data structures and algorithms to say the least. In our ongoing work of integrating sustainability in our Media Technology programme, we have addressed this gap by introducing systems thinking games and activities to broaden the scope, as well as by situating the issues addressed in the course in relation to their future profession. In this paper, we present our experiences of introducing and playing systems thinking games, how the systems thinking exercise sessions were conducted, outcomes of the sessions and finally some lessons learnt. Furthermore, we present and analyse changes we did to the exercises and that led to a richer material for discussions in the classroom.

ICT4S2019 and LIMITS 2019 – some short reflections

Several of the MID4S team members attended the ICT4S 2019 conference (and related workshops) in Lappeenranta 10-15 June 2019. Below are some very short reflections, please talk to us if you want to have any further elaborations.

Lappeenranta is situated by the shore of the lake Saima. Hard to imagine a city with 100 000+ inhabitants just behind the my back. (Photo: Elina Eriksson)

The ICT4S 2019 conference was fairly small, around 60 attendees, but the general feeling was that the conference was engaging and fulfilling. The conference was sandwiched between workshops, which made the stay longer. Next ICT4S conference will be next year in Bristol!

Some top 5’s by Miriam, Elina and Daniel:

Miriam’s Top 5:

  • Meeting up with all the people that make up the LIMITS/ICT4S community; an overall great crowd and great conversations.
  • The overall feeling that there is so much relevant and exciting research going on!
  • The keynote presentation by Mara Balestrini, which was very inspiring and super interesting.
  • Sauna by the lake (because when in Finland).
  •  Learning how to neutralize an attacking dog (!)

Elina’s Top 5:

  • Hanging out with the community.
  • The LIMITS keynote presentation by David Abson.
  • The ICT4S keynote presentation by Mara Balestrini.
  • Sauna!
  • The default vegan food.

Daniel’s Top 5:

  • Networking and catching up with the other participants.
  • Getting updated on research in the presentations.
  • Getting new ideas for future papers and collaborations.
  •  Sliding into the conference by arriving in time for the social event.
  • Starting to plan the second ICT4S Summer School for 2020 together with Patricia Lago.

A particularly fun surprise was meeting two of our students who were student volunteers!

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The keynote by David Abson on models and leverage points, as interpreted through Elina’s doodling.

Beyond GDP Growth

Last Wednesday I attended the final conference of the research programme Beyond GDP growth: Scenarios for sustainable building and planning (Bortom BNP-tillväxt). Beyond GDP Growth is a multidisciplinary strong research environment funded by Formas, which has run 2014-2018. In total about 17 researchers from 5 different universities and research institutes, 3 municipalities and a large number of reference groups participated in the programme.

The programme’s aim has been to explore key issues and conditions for planning for a sustainable future beyond GDP growth. The key premise is that it is important to not assume continued economic growth but also plan for other futures, that in turn are futures within a safe and just operating space for humanity within planetary boundaries.

The conference started with a presentation of the final report. After a coffee break it continued with 20 ConverStations where researchers presented their work. Us conference participants could choose to attend 3 different ConverStations. The conference ended with a discussion where the final report was discussed four panel members. The panel members were Sofia Arkelsten (Moderate Party), Pär Holmgren (Länsförsäkringar), Carl Schlyter (Green Party) and Charlotta Szczepanowski (Coop).

The main outcome of the research programme are the four scenarios that were developed; Collaborative Economy, Local Self-Sufficiency, Automation for Quality of Life and Circular Economy in the Welfare State.

From a sustainable HCI perspective the four scenarios are highly interesting and relevant as digital technologies play an integral and explicit role in them.

The final report (in Swedish) can be found here.

 

/Miriam

NordiCHI 2018 from an environmentalist’s perspective

As already alluded to in a published blog post here on the blog, I attended the 10th Nordic conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI2018) and organized a workshop on Saturday the 29th of September. The conference did not end there for me, but I stayed for 4 more days. And here are my most personal musings on this experience.

The 30th of October, I attended another workshop, to which I had been drafted by one of the organisers – and I could attend despite not having submitted a position paper on the topic of Design Fiction in Participatory Design processes. This is however close to things I have done, for example in the Empowering Energy Futures project where we created the energy fiction Vitiden. The workshop had a hint of a sustainability theme, where we worked with the fiction of moving a future city to Greenland due to climate change issues. The workshop was fun, although somewhat challenging, and made me realise that I have a potential project proposal in my back pocket, we’ll see if I can come back to that.

Workshoppy thingies going on at NordiCHI 2019

A large part of what you discuss on a conference is keynotes! On Monday 1st of September, the proper conference started, with a keynote by Carly Cloge from (Google) X. She presented X’s work on moonshot ideas and great technological breakthroughs. In a sense it was good to hear that we can and should sometimes fail, in order to find the best solutions. The keynote was really slick, with amazing projects and beautiful pictures – however, I was left with feeling that if they had almost unlimited resources – why concentrate on these particular problems? On Tuesday 2nd of October, Jeanette Blomberg reminisced on her 30 years of anthropological HCI studies within companies such as IBM. Her work resonated better with me, mirroring what I did myself in my PhD-work – working to enhance the user-centerdness in public authorities, and also mirroring my own (and probably your) everyday work situation with all these ICT systems we have to wrestle down for unclear reasons. On Wednesday 3rd of October, Steven Jackson presented the keynote I had the highest hope for, ”Sustainability Beyond Design: HCI Meets the Anthropocene”. But it turned out, this was the keynote that made me the most disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the keynote in itself was great and interesting, but Steven invited others into not taking it seriously by saying that it could be argued whether this ever would be central to HCI. And just so, the first to get the microphone did say that he did not think this ever would become central in HCI. But if we don’t fit our own field within the planetary boundaries, do we have any right to be part of forming the future?

My sketch notes of the keynote by Steven Jackson. Much of his talk touch upon the materiality of our ICT society, and how it will be here long after we are gone.

The rest of the days went by in a blur, and the conference committee’s decision to blend full papers, design cases, future scenarios and work-in-progress papers in the sessions made the sessions diversified and interesting. Hanna admirably presented our paper ”Designing for Diverse Stakeholder Engagement in Resource-Intensive Practices” on Wednesday, in the only dedicated sustainability session. That there were only one session on sustainability (and smartness) might be considered a weakness from my (our) point of view, especially with a conference with the theme ”Revisiting the Life Cycle”. However, I do believe that efforts to address sustainability were visible in other parts of the conference. One of the lunches were completely vegan, to many peoples’ surprise, others included at least low carbon meat such as chicken. The conference dinner was held at a restaurant that serve fish – with salvaged vegetables. There was a goodie bag – but you didn’t get it automatically and the gift from the conference were a water bottle that you can use forever.

I was invited to sit in the panel on the last day of the conference, debating what is Nordic about NordiCHI. Before the panel I was wondering how radically I should push the sustainability agenda. The conference had been as many other conferences I have visited. With a few exceptions, I often sit in the audience and wonder why. Why do you do this research and what is the aim, what will change in the world if this research was widely spread and is that a change we want? Sometimes I hear the voice a dear friend, that often say when we are discussing the state of the world: ”Why? For the worst possible reason – cause we can”. In the end, I did push sustainability a bit, openly by arguing that we need NordiCHI since we will have to travel less by airplane in the future, and implicitly by suggesting that we should have a court jester (a nod to Daniel) at the conference that makes fun of us, and perhaps sometimes tell us that we are on the wrong track. Personally, I am too polite (or afraid of conflicts?) to question the papers as they are presented, but somewhere I am beginning to think that we have to, I am just not sure how. How do we change the culture and norm of what is good HCI research, so that it becomes more relevant in the age of Anthropocene, help us adapt to coming climate change, and keep us within the planetary boundaries? Not by being silent at least.

(And yes, I took the train to Oslo)

//Elina

 

The Futures of Computing and Wisdom

On October 29th, team members (Daniel, Elina and Rob) co-organised a workshop together with Ben Kirman and Oliver Bates at NordiCHI2018 on the modest topic of computing and wisdom!

The people attending had all sent in a fictional abstract (an abstract of a research paper that potentially could be presented in the future) – on some aspect of computing and wisdom in 2068. The year 2068 was chosen with inspiration of a special issue of the journal Futures – which is turning 50 this year – where the guest editors are looking for ”structured reports of dialogues” of what wisdom might be in 2068 (50 years from now).

What is wAIsdom? AIs showed up in many of the fictional abstracts

As workshops go, this workshop went well (despite, to be honest, the fact that we spent a bit too little time planning it). Many participants actually agreed that time flew, and that we realised, with some surprise, that 1.5 hours had just passed without us feeling it. The fictional abstracts played their part, they instigated discussions on possible futures and discussions about our fear and hopes in relation to computing. The one hour given to discussing wisdom, after having spent the morning exploring various futures through the fictional abstract, passed quickly and with some intense discussions. It even felt as if we could have spent even more time discussing this topic together.

Is this the recipy for wisdom?

The goals of the workshops were high, but we feel that it met them, and that there are two possible publications brewing based on results from the workshop – one being a structured report on a dialogue about the futures of wisdom from an HCI point of view, and the other being a paper about fictional abstracts as a method.

A great thanks to my fellow organisers and to all the participants – honestly, this was probably the best workshop I have attended/organised.

//Elina

LIMITS + ICT4S2018 + WS

This will be a fully loaded blog post. Yours truly, and several team members and team hang arounds, have just attended the triple event of Computing within Limits workshop (LIMITS 2018), ICT4S 2018 conference and adjoining workshop on Computing + Sustainability + Education. The events stretched from Sunday the 13th of May to Friday the 18th of May 2018, followed by a Hackathon that we unfortunately did not attend.

Eeyore_small
Samuel Mann and Oliver Bates presented their paper on delimiting hope at LIMITS with these nice hand drawn slides. All of the ICT4S conference was also visualised, by everyone interested, in hand drawn pictures, and there will be an alternative proceedings with all the illustrations.

Putting LIMITS and ICT4S back to back made sure that both events received attendees that probably would not have attended (both) and that for at least some of us, travel was reduced. Personally I really appreciated this and hope for more synergies in the future.

Besides the pleasure of networking with colleagues of the same persuasion, the list of key note speakers and papers presented were wildly interesting. At LIMITS Peter Victor kicked the workshop off with a keynote on Ecological Economics and a Steady State Economy. This was followed by interesting papers and discussions, with the program allowing break out sessions and mingling. The second day started with Alan Borning presenting SEED – Solutions for Environment, Economy and Democracy.

The ICT4S conference was yet again facilitated by Peter Woodward who made us laugh, cringe and to the fullest connect and communicate with each other. Also this conference had brilliant keynote speakers, William Rees (the father of the ecological footprint), Lisa Nathan (whose talk on privilege made an impact on many) and John Robinson (who talked about how to interact with buildings). Personally, I was touched most by Sanjay Khanna, a futurologist who seemed to be well connected to his own feelings, letting it show how deeply emotionally affected he was in light of the future we are facing.

HorseShoeWaterfall
Since this became a long blog post, here’s a picture to rest your eyes on before reading on. Niagara Falls, imagine going over the edge in a barrel.

Finally, despite being relatively unplanned, the workshop om Computing + Sustainability + Education became a great success with interesting exchanges on how we teach sustainability within computing (HCI, Software Engineering, Computer Science etc). Steve Easterbrook also led us through an exercise on Systems Thinking. We have already drawn up plans on how to continue the energy from this group at the next ICT4S conference – in the form of another workshop and a tutorial. More to follow.

And happy news for us! Next ICT4S conference will be held in Lappeenranta in June 2019. See you all there!

ICT4S2019
The metropolis of Lappeenranta will host the ICT4S conference next year. Jari Porras and Samuel Mann will be conference chairs.

[here is a placeholder for the link to Daniel’s blog post that will probably come]

//Elina

Design för energieffektiv vardag

The 5th of October, a large contingent of team members were attending the conference ”Design för energieffektiv vardag” arranged by the Swedish Energy Agency, which is the final conference of the research program ”Energi, IT och Design”. The conference cover a summary of the projects that has been financed during the last 10 years, and a workshop on what kind of energy and design related research is needed for the future.

The theme of the conference were design for energy efficient every day life.

There were also an exhibition where the projects financed during the third and last period of the research program presented their results. There are several projects where current or previous team members have been part of. For example from Green Leap, the projects Sensing Energy, Hållbara Livsstilar, Energiframtider and Ett bilfritt år are exhibited.

Green Leap had four projects displayed at the exhibition.

Furthermore, Förbättrad energirådgivning och förbättrade energivanor genom Quantified Self Assisted Advisory were also present at the exhibition.

Quantify yourself for a more energy and resource efficient life.

We are all hoping there will be a continuation in some form, some kind of research program with similar themes as the past has had, since practices and everyday life is still missing in the energy research and development. And we need more visions of a sustainable future.

/Elina

Facilitating collective action in the collaborative economy through new interaction models, report from the Democracy and Participation Conference in Lisbon July 2017

The Democracy and Participation in the 21st Century conference was held in July 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal, organised by the International Sociological Association. Conference participants engaged with the issues surrounding democracy at a time of technological change, including the collaborative, or platform economy. The platform economy is where a software platform facilitates matching of freelance workers to short-term work. Justin participated in the ”Democratic participation in the platform economy” session organised by Åke Sandberg from the University of Stockholm and Justins presentation drew on the work he has been doing with Åke in the past year. This session explored the impact digitization has had on the nature of work and on traditional forms of collective action. In particular, unions in many countries are losing members as their worker base increasingly finds employment as freelance workers and in the platform economy rather than in traditional firms.

David Peetz’s presentation focused on how firms still maintain a core of employees, offering a way in for unions, however unions will need to embrace on-line media such as the Our Walmart app. Todd Wolfson was unable to attend, but his presentation would have highlighted the importance of collective identity for platform economy workers, which is different from that of regular workers. Bela Galgoczi’s presentation asked the questions what makes an employee and what makes an employer in the digital economy and what are the implications for trade unions. There is the potential to create new structures such as platform co-ops but they still need to compete with mainstream platforms such as Uber.

Our presentation offered ”a new producer-consumer interaction model for facilitating collective action in the collaborative economy”, based on our exploration of how guild-like cooperatives and trade unions could work in an economy where growing numbers of individual freelance workers interact with their employers via online platforms. We presented the Software Review Alliance Board, a model that brings together union members, software programmers, workplace managers and researchers to enable collective action.

Åke Sandberg brought the session to a close, highlighting that the platform economy has led to a rise in self-employment, which is an opportunity for unions to engage with self-employed workers and negotiate on behalf of them. In the UK, the Taylor Report on working practices suggested a new category of workers, but the unions are resisting the report’s recommendations. One possibility is that workers could create their own platforms, our proposed Review Alliance model indicates how such platforms could work in practice.

The conference highlighted how human-computer interaction has changed in recent years, to play a more central role in society. Software platforms are now increasingly governing how people work, creating a new class in the process, the ”precariat” working in the ”gig economy”. However, the ideas and research presented in this session and during the rest of the conference shows that it is possible to use this technology to create new mechanisms for workers to take collective action.

/Justin Larner and Åke Walldius

 

The Taylor Report:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-the-taylor-review-of-modern-working-practices

Abstracts from the Democracy and Participation conference:
http://pascal.iseg.utl.pt/~socius/eventos/ISA-RC10/programa.shtml

 

Programkonferens EID

The 6th and 7th of December some of the team members attended the program conference for the research program EID (Energy, IT and Design) arranged (and funded) by the Swedish Energy Agency. The program is in it’s last phase, and will end in the summer of 2017, and has then been running for 10 years!

At the conference, all the project managers in projects funded by the program present the current status of the projects or the results from finished projects. From our group I (Elina) present the project ”User-centred images of the future energy transition”, Björn present his project ”Improved energy counceling and energy habits by Quantified Self Assisted Advisory”, Loove present his project ”Sensing Energy”. For a full program see this PDF. Daniel wrote a longer blog post about the event, including many personal reflections.

Here is a picture of the opening slide, notice Green Leap is mentioned, as a ”result” of the program, with which several of us are affiliated. 🙂

eid_konf2016

/Elina

LIMITS’2015 – Computing within limits

This a late blogpost about the workshop Computing within Limits that I and Daniel attended in Irvine* the 15-16 of June 2015. Or really, Daniel was one of the main organizers of the workshop, which was a first of its kind. This were the theme of the workshop:

LIMITS 2015 aims to foster discussion on the impact of present or future ecological, material, energetic, and/or societal limits on computing. These topics are seldom discussed in contemporary computing research. The medium-term aim of the workshop is to foster concrete research, potentially of an interdisciplinary nature, that innovates on technologies, techniques, and contexts for computing within fundamental limits. A longer-term goal is to build a community around relevant topics and research, with LIMITS 2015 constituting the inaugural meeting. A goal of this community is to impact society through the design and development of computing systems in the abundant present for use in a future of limits and/or scarcity.

All participants at the workshop had been invited to send in position papers to the workshop, which were then peer-reviewed before acceptance. There was a great diversity, and the papers presented intriguing subjects, I can only recommend you to browse the list of papers under program and papers and read those that catch your eye. Personally I presented a paper that I had co-authored with Bran Knowles, ”Deviant and Guilt-ridden – Psychological Limits to Computing”, where we start discussing the psychological and sociological limits when trying to work/research computing within limits.

My main take-away from the workshop, besides the obvious of meeting researchers I have been keen on meeting for a long time, was the discussion around how to address, discuss or get papers published that handles limits, degrowth** and a future of scarcity. One participants told us that his papers hade been met with comments in the lines of ”this is Mad Max scenarios, not research” when sending his texts to conferences. There were interesting discussions on complexity and if we can scale down complexity in society in a ordered fashion, and I really liked the term ”refactoring society” which Barath Raghavan coined in one pre-workshop discussion.

In terms of research areas, this was workshop where several different computing areas met around limits, so that there where scholars in ICT4D, networking, software engineering, Human-Computer Interaction, sensors and energy. I do hope this research community can get more established and grow [sic!]. There are many interesting topics that can come out of this group, even though you don’t believe in decline or collapse scenarios.

//Elina

 

* ironically #1 we were in a place where it has been a severe drought for several years, and where there were only one year of water reserves left in the state. Talking about a limits scenario.
** ironically #2, my web browser does not want to recognize degrowth as a proper word, but tries to auto-correct it to regrowth. 🙂