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posted by janrinok on Sunday February 09 2020, @03:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it dept.

Mac Bowley at the Raspberry Pi blog asks about ending hardware upgrades for the sake of upgrades as well as ending planned obsolescence. The softwre for the Raspberry Pi, he notes, still runs on the first models even if the newer models are faster. In fact the old models are still being produced and bought. Fully exploiting the natural life spans of hardware would have a lot of advantages, not the least of which would be reduction of the enviornmental impact.

Some components of your phone cannot be created without rare chemical elements, such as europium and dysprosium. (In fact, there are 83 stable non-radioactive elements in the periodic table, and 70 of them are used in some capacity in your phone.) Upgrade culture means there is high demand for these materials, and deposits are becoming more and more depleted. If you're hoping there are renewable alternatives, you'll be disappointed: a study by researchers working at Yale University found that there are currently no alternative materials that are as effective.

Then there's the issue of how the materials are mined. The market trading these materials is highly competitive, and more often than not manufacturers buy from the companies offer the lowest prices. To maintain their profit margin, these companies have to extract as much material as possible as cheaply as they can. As you can imagine, this leads to mining practices that are less than ethical or environmentally friendly. As many of the mines are located in distant areas of developing countries, these problems may feel remote to you, but they affect a lot of people and are a direct result of the market we are creating by upgrading our devices every two years.

Many of us agree that we need to do what we can to counteract climate change, and that, to achieve anything meaningful, we have to start looking at the way we live our lives. This includes questioning how we use technology. It will be through discussion and opinion gathering that we can start to make more informed decisions — as individuals and as a society.

Previously:
Apple, Samsung Fined for Crippling Devices With Software Updates
Planned Obsolescence Takes a Step Forward (2014)


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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday February 09 2020, @10:19PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday February 09 2020, @10:19PM (#956179)

    We avoided cell phones altogether until about 1999, I think... what pushed us over the edge was driving less than reliable cars across the everglades on a regular basis - the phone seemed like a good insurance policy. I've never had a car strand me in the middle of nowhere, but I did have one come close one evening at sunset in the middle of the glades, back when 27 was 2 lanes and a ditch - fuel pump cut out, then... 20 minutes later it started working again (bad ground wire, but I didn't know that at the time...)

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