How Green is your Software ?

As per estimates, the ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) industry is responsible for around 2 to 3% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. By 2040, it is expected to account for 14% of the world’s carbon footprint — up from about 1.5% in 2007.

Traditionally, green IT topic has only been addressed by hardware vendors. However, recently there is a shift of focus towards the role of software in IT sustainability, which makes us think that on its own software doesn’t consume energy or emit any harmful discharge !

Actually, the problem lies in the way software is developed for use — and then in the way it is used. For example:

  • Blockchain is being touted as the next-gen technology to make an enormous impact on many areas such as cryptocurrency, smart contracts, supply chains etc. However, in 2019, researchers at the University of Cambridge estimated that the energy needed to maintain the Bitcoin network surpassed that of the entire nation of Switzerland.
  • Artificial Intelligence is helping a lot of enterprises with advanced analytics, estimations, and predictions. However, deep learning has a terrible carbon footprint. Training a single neural network model today can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes.

It would be impractical to limit the development or usage of software. However, companies can make software an integral part of their sustainable efforts, by regularly measuring and improving the performance of software systems.

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