Digital sobriety for more resilience

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A weak industry

The Covid-19 crisis has made visible weaknesses in the world of digital and electronics: an interdependence of economic and technical systems. The 2020 confinements led to a drastic reduction, or even a halt in the production of electronic circuits in China, impacting worldwide production (Example of the iPhone 13 and its stock shortages).

But the Covid-19 pandemic is not the only cause that has impacted the supply system. At the beginning of 2021, Taiwan was affected by a drought, another important place of production of electronic circuits, and this contributed to reinforcing the shortage already initiated.

Health crises and environmental crises can also be accompanied by geopolitical crises and wars. The war in Ukraine, for example, has lifted one more of the weaknesses in these complex supplies: risk in the production of neon lights, necessary for the manufacture of chips. These neon lights are mostly produced in Ukraine.


Sobriety is one of the resilience solutions

We can expect a resilience solution from the electronics industry through relocations, however, some solutions (relocation of material extraction) are difficult to visualize. In the same way, “digital sovereignty” would not be the solution to this problem, or in any case, it would “only” better deal with the dependency on server hardware.

Sobriety is primarily seen as a way to reduce one’s environmental footprint. It is true, but it also has the advantage (in the context of reducing the environmental impact) of extending the lifespan of equipment, reducing the consumption of resources (CPU for example), optimizing the capacity of the equipment…

Digital services and electronics are becoming more dependent on one another thanks to Sobriety benefits. Making digital soberer would therefore limit the impact of these crises.

Make no mistake

Although much discussed in the digital world, digital sobriety has still not been implemented enough. Its implementation costs are still being discussed, as well as its greater impact on hardware than on its use. It seems that endless debates continue on the network’s impact (focusing on energy and not CO2, disregarding global problems, etc. ). There are as well as counterarguments on whether it is necessary to optimize the CO2 impact of our solutions since we have low-carbon energy in France.

Dismissing the digital sobriety approach on the pretext of its drawbacks means not fully taking into account the place of digital technology in our world. Above all, it means continuing to develop tools that will potentially not work given their lack of resilience.

Allowing the operation of digital services on “low-end” equipment and limited networks is, for example, an approach that goes in the direction of digital sobriety. But this is only the beginning of a real process of sobriety. The road is long, and unfortunately, the crises are already here.

There can be no doubt that sobriety is essential in our young digital world