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Refusing the Burden of Computation: Edge Computing and Sustainable ICT

This paper has been written as part of the Transmediale workshop 'Research Refusal', 2021, and was published in the open access online journal A Peer-Reviewed Journal About (APRJA).

This paper asks what we can learn from edge computing about the commitment of Big Tech to diminish its ecological footprint. The text starts with the COVID-19 pandemic being framed as opportunity for more sustainability and unpacks edge computing as one of the elements proposed as a solution, next to working from home. It interrogates the discourse behind these solutions, one of technological fixes that allow ‘business as usual’ to continue, undisturbed by government regulations, outsourcing the burden of environmental responsibility to citizens. The paper draws parallels between edge computing, Big Tech’s approach to sustainability and the history of the Sustainable ICT discourse and proposes that to truly diminish ICT’s footprint, a refusal of the burden of computation and digital enclosure (vendor lock-in) is needed, by collectively building and financing network services.

The full paper can be downloaded here.