What’s powering that smartphone of yours

While the cloud brings an impressive array of capabilities literally to our fingertips, its presence is barely felt, let alone understood, by most smartphone users.

If you think working from home is resulting in a huge reduction in energy consumption, think again. Writing in Tech Crunch, Mark Mills says Our love of the cloud is making a green energy future impossible:

An epic number of citizens are video-conferencing to work in these lockdown times. But as they trade in a gas-burning commute for digital connectivity, their personal energy use for each two hours of video is greater than the share of fuel they would have consumed on a four-mile train ride. Add to this, millions of students ‘driving’ to class on the internet instead of walking.

Meanwhile in other corners of the digital universe, scientists furiously deploy algorithms to accelerate research. Yet, the pattern-learning phase for a single artificial intelligence application can consume more compute energy than 10,000 cars do in a day.

Put in individual terms: this means the pro rata, average electricity used by each smartphone is greater than the annual energy used by a typical home refrigerator.