Technology & Internet

A new study demonstrates how solar power can be used to power the Internet

Internet usage creates an enormous carbon footprint as a result of the amount of energy required to power computers, servers, as well as other devices. As we continue to increasingly rely on the Internet in our daily lives this carbon footprint will increase.

Enter Solar Protocol. It’s a brand new initiative that provides a solution on the issue of limiting carbon emissions when making use of the Internet.

Created by researchers at the New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, the project operates an online platform hosted on more than a dozen volunteer-run and solar-powered servers across the globe from the Caribbean from Africa from Africa to Australia.

“Besides being a workable system with implications for future servers, it constitutes a global installation that spotlights the politics of the web and different ways to track web traffic,” the developers of the project provide.

In contrast to high-volume websites which automatically route traffic from the network to a server that reacts to an request in the most efficient way, Solar Protocol’s method is based on the sun’s interaction with the Earth as its operational guiding method.

Since the solar-powered servers are situated in time zones that have various seasons with different sun exposure , and various conditions, this system routes Internet users to the servers that are located where there is sun shining given moment. In the end, whenever users of the Solar Protocol website connects to it, it’s the server that generates the most solar power and responds.

“Solar Protocol is a great opportunity for us to foreground issues of climate change and how technology is driving it,” says Tega Brain who is a professor in the department in the department of Technology Culture and Society who was one of the creators of the.

“The project has sparked conversations regarding AI or automation because the traffic of users in the network is determined by solar energy, which means we’re using data from the natural and dynamic world instead of the machine learning model that is driven by data as an alternative. Why not consider planetary limitations as intelligence? In the end, they determine the future of humankind regardless of whether we’d like it or not.” Brain elucidates.

While the project is in its infancy the project could become an example for other environmentally mindful Internet projects, the project’s creators affirm.

“This is in no way an alternative to the internet, so the goal here is not to scale it up,” says Benedetta Piantella who works at New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. “But we are publishing the system as an open standard, which means, theoretically, anyone could launch a similar network — say, a network of art museums.”

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