A really great long-form article (and accompanying visualisation) looking at the life of an Amazon Echo. In terms of extraction of resources, human labour, and data that goes into making, running, and disposing of such a device, and the social, environmental, economic and political consequences.
A few snippets from the article:
Put simply: each small moment of convenience – be it answering a question, turning on a light, or playing a song – requires a vast planetary network, fueled by the extraction of non-renewable materials, labor, and data
All these batteries have a limited lifespan, and once consumed they are thrown away as waste. Amazon reminds users that they cannot open up and repair their Echo, because this will void the warranty.
Vincent Mosco has shown how the ethereal metaphor of ‘the cloud’ for offsite data management and processing is in complete contradiction with the physical realities of the extraction of minerals from the Earth’s crust and dispossession of human populations that sustain its existence.
Looking from the perspective of deep time, we are extracting Earth’s history to serve a split second of technological time, in order to build devices than are often designed to be used for no more than a few years.
(If you’re near London, the illustration is on display at the V&A at the moment as part of London Design Festival.)