What the Experts Say
In April I wrote about the Critical Infrastructure Lab, before attending its launch party in Amsterdam.
The lab aims to create space to co-develop alternative digital infrastructural futures that center people and planet over profit and capital, by establishing a community around three infrastructural subtopics (geopolitics, standards, environment), producing a sound body of research and developing actionable policy recommendations and strategic insights.
The 2-day launch event was fantastic, and I wrote about it in a post here on the Bassetti Foundation website. My report is a series of points and take-aways from the event from my own perspective in which I try to highlight a few of the questions raised about digital infrastructure: How can we imagine people-centred infrastructure? Do we have to think in terms of infinite infrastructure? Could democratizing infrastructure be an approach? Other topics include migration research and tracking, open internet, standardization, and the role of infrastructure in conflict.
The Critical Infrastructure Lab also produced a report on the event, available to download here. This is a very different style of report, offering another overview of topics addressed, and it’s very thought provoking.
Through the link below you can download lots of interesting publications, including a working paper about a workshop carried out at a Limits 2023 event, called The Climate Crisis is a Digital Rights Crisis: Exploring the Civil-Society Framing of Two Intersecting Disasters. This is a description of a workshop about exploring the intersection of the climate crisis and digital rights, which again raises lots of questions as well as offering loads of information.
This report talks about both the material and the immaterial impact of digital infrastructures and new technologies, from mining to waste, energy consumption to water use, which are material, but also digital rights, power, justice, and surveillance. Digital infrastructures are presented as being a tool to mitigate the impact of global heating and help in climate protection, but we need to view this position more critically.
The European Union state that “digital technologies could play a key role in achieving climate neutrality, reducing pollution, and restoring biodiversity”, leading to a kind of twin transition being born. They have promoted the right to repair (technology should be repairable), ecodesign and the Circular Economy Initiative, estimating that repairable products that are thrown away create 35 million tons of waste, waste 30 million tons of resources and produce 261 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU every year.
And the production and life cycle of these goods sits within trade and political relationships that have existed since colonial times, raw materials taken from developing economies, used in wealthy economies, with the waste finding its way to other developing economies.
The Limits 2023 community dashboard offers lots of other papers too.
There is a lot to take from these documents, it’s thought provoking stuff and it is all open access.