Sustainable computing and net-zero energy centers: World Economic Forum emerging technologies report 

As a World Economic Forum platform partner, Frontiers is collaborating with the Forum on the 2023 edition of its annual emerging technologies report. Chosen by an international panel of experts, the list of top ten emerging technologies included in the report were selected from nearly 100 contenders based on criteria including novelty, applicability, depth, and power. 

Credit: Frontiers

Sustainable computing and net-zero energy centers   

Data centers, which account for an estimated 1% of global electricity consumption, are a growing contributor to the worsening environmental crisis. New approaches, which address this problem, have been identified among the top ten technologies listed in this year’s World Economic Forum report.  

Andrew Maynard, one of the report’s authors and member of the Forum’s steering committee for the project, said: “Given the growing global demand for data centers, technologies designed to ‘green’ the computing industry will increase in importance over coming years. The inclusion of sustainable computing in this year’s report highlights the need for technologies to control and optimize energy consumption in computing.” 

Innovative, sustainable solutions in this area bring together multiple technologies to improve energy efficiency, including liquid cooling systems and repurposing excess heat. Creative approaches are also being used to integrate and co-design technologies for electricity generation, storage, and management. In addition, artificial intelligence is being used to analyze and optimize energy use in real time, achieving, for example, an up to a 40% reduction in energy consumption at Google’s data centers. 

Stefano Rinaldi, section chief editor of Frontiers in Energy Efficiency, one of the Frontiers journals working with Forum on the collaboration, said: “By implementing energy-efficient hardware, optimizing software algorithms, utilizing virtualization and cloud computing, and promoting energy-aware practices, sustainable computing technologies contribute to lowering power consumption, minimizing e-waste, and maximizing resource utilization.” 

Frontiers in Energy Efficiency section chief editor, Chenghong Gu added: “We welcome the latest research work that explores the theory, design, development, trial, and demonstration of sustainable computing technologies to enable more efficient, sustainable and secure energy use across various economic sectors.”      

Alongside Frontiers in Energy Efficiency the report on sustainable computing has also been supported by Frontiers in Computer Science, and Frontiers in Environmental Economics. Involvement in the project has enabled the research communities around these journals to focus on key areas for development and identify future research topics. 

About the emerging technologies report 

For the first time this year the emerging technologies report incorporates “impact fingerprint” survey data offering a more in-depth analysis of the technology’s predicted impact on people, planet, prosperity, industry, and equity over coming years. The academics surveyed were selected from Frontiers’ network of scientific journal editors, while industry leaders were selected from the Forum’s Innovator Communities.  

Frontiers’ chief executive editor Frederick Fenter, who has spearheaded the publisher’s collaboration on the report, said: “This report is an important interface between researchers working at the forefront of science and the leaders who need to understand their work. It has been particularly inspiring to collaborate with the Forum in developing new features to enhance the report’s impact and consolidate its position as an essential resource across research, industry and policy making.” 

To facilitate deeper engagement with the emerging technologies, Frontiers has also co-curated transformation maps for each technology. These are hosted on the Forum’s strategic intelligence platform, where readers can learn more about the key issues of each technology and how it connects to other topics on the global agenda as well as find the latest articles on the topic from trusted sources. 

About Frontiers  

Frontiers is the 3rd most-cited and 6th largest research publisher. We publish groundbreaking discoveries by the world’s top experts. Scientists empower society and our mission is to accelerate scientific discovery by making science open. We place the researcher at the center of everything we do and enable the research community to develop the solutions we need to live healthy lives on a healthy planet. Featuring custom-built technology, artificial intelligence, and rigorous quality standards, our research articles have been viewed more than 2.5 billion times, reflecting the power of research that is open for all.

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