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The Cloud is a Factory: An Environmental History of Computing

The Cloud is a Factory: An Environmental History of Computing
Wednesday, 27 Sep 2023, 07:30 PM–09:00 PM
Zoom (Online)
Speaker Details

Nathan Ensmenger

Nathan Ensmenger Nathan Ensmenger is Associate Professor of Informatics at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. His research focuses on the social and organizational issues related to software work and workers.  His 2010 book The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise traces the emergence of the "computer expert" as a major force in American corporate and government organizations.  His research on the gendered nature of computer labour has helped frame contemporary discussions about women and work in Silicon Valley.  He is one of the co-authors of the most recent edition of the popular Computer: A History of the Information Machine.  He is currently working on a book exploring the global environmental history of the electronic digital computer.  His work on AI ethics focuses on algorithmic bias, risk, and the future of work.
Distinguished Speaker Series - Digital Transformation
Open To
SMU Community, Public
Event Synopsis

From Charles Babbage's Difference Engine to Herman Hollerith's tabulating machine to the emergence of the ecological sciences and the modern petrochemical industry, information technologies have always been closely associated with the human desire to understand and manipulate their physical environment. More recently, humankind has started to realize the environmental impacts of information technology, including not only the toxic by-products associated with their production, but also the polluting effects of the massive amounts of energy and water required by data centres at Google and Facebook — whose physicality is conveniently and deliberately camouflaged behind the disembodied, ethereal "cloud”.