The Technium

Follow the Moon

There’s three divergent scenarios of how the peak wave of computation will flow around the globe once there is only One Machine, or what is usually called ubiquitous cloud computing.  In other words, in a seamless computing environment where data and digital services can flow to the optimal machines anywhere on the planet, what kind of route will they take?

For sure, the nodes of heavy-duty computation will settle where energy is cheapest nearest to the greatest population of users. This will shift over time as users boom in new regions, and power plants are relocated or built. But since humans are predominately diurnal and electrical signals are not, there is a potential for a large global daily pattern to emerge.


The three scenarios:

Follow the Sun:  As one time zone wakes up for another day of commerce and entertainment, the peak activities will migrate around the planet in a wave that follows the sun. While California crunches, India sleeps. And vice versa. Here the maximum computation and energy needs will be found nearest to the time zone in the sun.

Follow the Moon:  If the costs and latencies of communication are smaller than computation, then the many huge data centers can be placed where energy costs are least. And no matter where they are, their loads will ordinarily be less at night. So India crunches to keep California awake. And vice versa. Therefore the least expensive computation will be a wave flowing around the globe at night, or following the moon.

Follow the Law:  Perhaps neither energy nor communication costs will be the gating factor in the One Machine; rather it may be law. Differences in privacy laws, censorship, and national security fears may restrict places where data can flow freely. In that case computation will have to hopscotch around the world following the law.

Most likely different industries adopt a different scenario. Maybe financial follows the moon, while commerce follows the sun, and entertainment follows the law.  A single computing environment (One Machine) should not suggest homogeneity. A meadow is not homogeneous, but its does act as a coherent ecological system.

Another way to dissect the daily rhythm of the One Machine is to trace the three distinct waves of energy, data, and computation as they flow through the planetary “cloud.”  Each probably has its own pathways.


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