Friday, December 08, 2006

Virutal Slaves in Virtual Worlds

Nick Carr has another insightful piece on the fact that Second Life avatars use as much power as the typical Brazilian. The analysis is fascinating:

If there are on average between 10,000 and 15,000 avatars "living" in Second Life at any point, that means the world has a population of about 12,500. Supporting those 12,500 avatars requires 4,000 servers as well as the 12,500 PCs the avatars' physical alter egos are using. Conservatively, a PC consumes 120 watts and a server consumes 200 watts. Throw in another 50 watts per server for data-center air conditioning. So, on a daily basis, overall Second Life power consumption equals:

(4,000 x 250 x 24) + (12,500 x 120 x 24) = 60,000,000 watt-hours or 60,000 kilowatt-hours

Per capita, that's:

60,000 / 12,500 = 4.8 kWh

There's something a little mysterious about these avatars, these virtual avatar/people. As I pointed out in Do My Bidding, we Americans already have about 100 energy slaves working for us already on a daily basis. I see avatars as just another appliance working for us, like a toaster or a refrigerator, giving us a bit of fun or maybe even making some money. But when it gets down to it, when energy is one dollar per kWh, are we going to keep or avatar or our refrigerator?

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