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dc.contributor.author
Scholz, Roland W.
dc.date.accessioned
2019-06-18T12:55:56Z
dc.date.available
2017-06-12T11:28:00Z
dc.date.available
2019-06-18T12:55:56Z
dc.date.issued
2016-08
dc.identifier.issn
2071-1050
dc.identifier.other
10.3390/su8080726
en_US
dc.identifier.uri
http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11850/119793
dc.identifier.doi
10.3929/ethz-b-000119793
dc.description.abstract
This paper identifies and discusses the benefits, threats, and vulnerabilities related to the digital revolution. It aims to motivate research and its funding regarding digital threats and vulnerabilities related, in particular, to anticipating unintended, undesirable rebound effects, tipping points, critically fast evolutionary change rates, trade-offs, etc. A brief analysis of the history of the mind and technology reveals slow technological development over tens of thousands of years (including the invention of a place-value digital number system). Then, a small series of groundbreaking ideas (e.g., binary logic, Shannon’s symbolic analysis of relay and switching circuits, architectures of computing) enabled the industry-driven invention of programmable computing machines. Ultimately, the mastery of electron and semiconductor physics allowed for economical and seemingly unlimited storage capacity that made digital tools available to all domains of society. Based on the historical analysis, a coupled human-environment systems perspective (that includes a hierarchy assumption ranging from the human cell to the human species) enables the identification of several potential challenges to society and science. First, digital nano-engineering promotes genetic modifications (i.e., directed evolution), and synthetic biology enables a new level of the appropriation of nature. The understanding of cell-based biocomputers may call for new forms of logic. These and other challenges require thorough sustainability research in order to anticipate major changes on all levels of human systems. Second, the human individual is exposed to new forms of vulnerability. In particular, the potential epigenetic effects resulting from the excessive use of digital information of historically unknown speed, density, and contents and the loss of (the Western common-law right to) privacy resulting from big data (whose ownership is often unknown) should become subjects of research. Third, digital technologies are responsible for rapid changes in all social and economic structures. The paper suggests that thorough, discipline-based interdisciplinary research is needed in order to develop basic knowledge for creating and managing resilient relationships between human systems and their digital environments.
en_US
dc.format
application/pdf
en_US
dc.language.iso
en
en_US
dc.publisher
MDPI
en_US
dc.rights.uri
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
dc.subject
Digital revolution
en_US
dc.subject
Digital threats
en_US
dc.subject
Rebound effects
en_US
dc.subject
Genetically modified organisms (GMO)
en_US
dc.subject
Cell-based computers
en_US
dc.subject
Cell-based computing
en_US
dc.subject
Environmental epigenetics
en_US
dc.subject
Loss of privacy
en_US
dc.subject
Appropriation of nature
en_US
dc.title
Sustainable Digital Environments: What Major Challenges is Humankind Facing?
en_US
dc.type
Journal Article
dc.rights.license
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
dc.date.published
2016-07-29
ethz.journal.title
Sustainability
ethz.journal.volume
8
en_US
ethz.journal.issue
8
en_US
ethz.pages.start
726
en_US
ethz.size
31 p.
en_US
ethz.version.deposit
publishedVersion
en_US
ethz.identifier.wos
ethz.identifier.scopus
ethz.identifier.nebis
010201556
ethz.publication.place
Basel
en_US
ethz.publication.status
published
en_US
ethz.date.deposited
2017-06-12T11:36:03Z
ethz.source
ECIT
ethz.identifier.importid
imp593654a858f7179629
ethz.ecitpid
pub:181827
ethz.eth
yes
en_US
ethz.availability
Open access
en_US
ethz.rosetta.installDate
2017-07-13T12:07:00Z
ethz.rosetta.lastUpdated
2019-06-18T12:56:10Z
ethz.rosetta.versionExported
true
ethz.COinS
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