Meeting Asim Hussain, the Green Software Foundation’s Director, is always an uplifting experience and this episode makes no exception. A patchwork episode where we talked about:
When we finally have the chance to meet with Asim Hussain the Director of the GSF, the episode becomes a crazy mailbag one where we talked about:
🙌 How trust and consensus can work in an organization gathering small and agile NGO with Tech multinationals,
🔧 Which tools shall we pick to report about carbon and which ones to build more carbon-efficient software,
📈 How a simple yaml file could boost comparisons and operability of green software,
🌿 And yes … a bit about psychedelic medicine also 🙂
📣 Green IO launches its first conference in partnership with Apidays. If you are in Paris December 8th join us to get the latest insights on Digital Sustainability with Aurore Stéphant, Perrine Tanguy, Tristan Nitot, Julia Meyer, Theo Alves Da Costa, all the teams involved in the Sustainable Digital Challenge 2023 and many more!
And it's free for our listeners! Register at https://conference.greenio.tech/ with the voucher GREENIOVIP. We're looking forward seeing you there.
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📧 Once a month, we deliver carefully curated news on digital sustainability packed with exclusive Green IO contents in your mailbox, subscribe to the Green IO newsletter here.
Green IO is a free and independent podcast! And so we need your help to keep it that way by supporting us on Tipeee here.
Meeting Asim Hussain, the Green Software Foundation’s Director, is always an uplifting experience and this episode makes no exception. A patchwork episode where we talked about:
When we finally have the chance to meet with Asim Hussain the Director of the GSF, the episode becomes a crazy mailbag one where we talked about:
- 🙌 How trust and consensus can work in an organization gathering small and agile NGO with Tech multinationals,
- 🔧 Which tools shall we pick to report about carbon and which ones to build more carbon-efficient software,
- 📈 How a simple yaml file could boost comparisons and operability of green software,
- 🌿 And yes … a bit about psychedelic medicine also 🙂
⚠️ Breaking news ⚠️
📣 Green IO launches its first on site Green IO conference in Paris, December 8th. Join us to get the latest insights on Digital Sustainability with Aurore Stéphant, Perrine Tanguy, Tristan Nitot, Julia Meyer, Theo Alves Da Costa, and many more! Get also feedback from all the teams involved in the 2023 Sustainable Digital Challenge: Allianz, Axa, BlaBlaCar, BNP Paribas Cardif, Ekwateur, Evaneos, Groupama, INSEE, Leboncoin, Norauto, SNCF!
And it's free for our listeners
! Register here
with the voucher GREENIOVIP. We're looking forward to seeing hundreds of you there 😍.
Green IO is a free and independent podcast! And so we need your help to keep it that way by supporting us on Tipeee here
❤️ Subscribe, follow, like, ... stay connected the way you want to never miss an episode!
📧 Once a month, we deliver carefully curated news on digital sustainability packed with exclusive Green IO contents in your mailbox, subscribe to the Green IO newsletter here
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Asim's sources and other references mentioned in this episode
Green IO E27 TRANSCRIPT
Asim [00:00:07] "We have a very specific way of working. If you're in a working group and you do not like what is happening, you have to say the words I object. It can't just be like a strong argument. You have to sarcastic a magic incantation. You have to say the words, I object."
Gaël [00:00:30] Hello, everyone. Welcome to Green IO, the podcast for Responsible Technologists Building a Greener Digital World. One byte at a time. Our guests from across the globe share insights, tools and alternative approaches, enabling people within the tech sector and beyond to boost digital sustainability. Quick note from our European-based listeners. You are invited to the first Green IO Conference in Paris on December the 8th (2023) for free. I partnered with API Days to bring you an amazing line-up, starting with Aurore Stéphant, Tristan Nitot, Théo Alves Da Costa and all the teams involved in the 2023 Sustainable Digital Challenge. The link to register is in the episode notes. Hope to see many of you.
Gaël [00:01:20] In the small but growing community of people coding with our environment at heart. The GSF, the Green Software Foundation, is getting a lot of traction. Big companies and universities are joining almost on a weekly basis. Dozens of open-source projects around the globe participated in the 2022 hackathon. The numbers of LinkedIn followers have doubled in less than the semester, if not a quarter. And a quick glance on the Green Software Foundation website will give you a good idea of all the tools and methods they provide to decarbonize software. But what's in it for a software engineer or a designer who could get lost in this vibrant library? Where to start and what to use for which needs? What are the limitations of these tools today? I seized the opportunity of meeting Asim Hussain, (the Green Software Foundation director) at API days, London, in September - where we were both talking about tech sustainability - to ask him to join the show. Between fellow podcasters because Asim and Chris Adams are the regular hosts of the great Environment Variables Podcast. He gladly accepted and voilà, hi Asim. Thanks a lot for joining Green IO today.
Asim [00:02:38] Thanks, Gaël. Thanks for having me.
2 Gaël [00:02:40] So, Asim, before we deep dive into the GSF tools, I have the question I wanted to ask you since I've started following your work. What's the connection between Microsoft, Intel, JPMorgan, the European Space Agency and psychedelic medicine?
Gaël [00:05:52] That's crazy.
Asim [00:05:54] Now what's happening is, based on the large polymer study that Tim Ferriss funded, which is in the Johns Hopkins University, there's this big resurgence of research in this space. Australia just legalized that. There are multiple countries in the world which are changing their legislation over it. And there's been a large kind of movement over the last couple of years to really explore this space - sometimes it's called the psychedelic medicine movement, sometimes it's called plant-based medicines. And yeah, I've been doing a lot of those, mostly ayahuasca, but a lot of those ceremonies over the last seven years. I do them a couple of times a year and I'd say my journey in the psychedelic medicine space and my growth in there as a human being and as a spiritual entity has really - I wouldn't even remotely have been able to do what I've done here without that space. And I'm happy if anybody ever has any questions about it. I'm very open on it. It's on my profiles, on socials. I wrote an article about it recently, so I'm always happy to answer any questions on that for anybody. That's one of my missions, recently, I realize, was to advocate for this space, to be a beacon and thank you for the opportunity to tell everybody about it because it is an area I'm trying to destigmatize.
Gaël [00:07:21] Yeah, you're welcome. You know, I feel that a lot of we're doing is actually, in tech, showing how complex the system is. But actually, if you take an even bigger point of view, I think it's good that to break the silos in which we position our professional life our personal life or spiritual life, and understanding that everything is somehow pretty strongly connected, it helps us to be a bit more humble. I guess one effect at some point in one space could have ripple effects in others. And also reconnecting with our ecosystem or biosphere nature, choose word you want. Thanks a lot for sharing. That was intimate. So thanks for your openness.
Gaël [00:08:11] Yes, you said you had a pretty astonishing trend in success professionally last year and even before that, for sure you've been a beacon, I would say, in the green software movement. And actually, that's true now for the Green Software Foundation. And my question would be, why so much traction for the Green Software Foundation? And I know that in the 2023 additional decarb software, I guess this online conference is in two week’s time - am I right?
Asim [00:08:43] Yup. 16th of November 2023.
Gaël [00:08:46] Okay. Thanks a lot. And of course, we'll put the link in the show notes along with every other reference that we mention in this episode. But you will give the introduction talk with Adam in that matter, if I'm not mistaken. And one of the aspects is 2023 in review. So could we have some teasers? Some previews? Was 2023 a good year for the Green Software Foundation? And why? Why do you see these trends?
Asim [00:09:13] Well, it was just to talk very openly and honestly, I think. Through 2023 and we're still in it, but if you remember, the start of the year was a very interesting, challenging time for the whole industry and everybody was letting everybody go. There were really big question marks over what's happening in the ecosystem. You know, as a person who leads a foundation where we are funded through membership fees, I started off this year with a little bit of trepidation and a little bit of concern, because I knew the pressures that were on organizations to cut budgets. And, as much as we are run through volunteers, there are staff and there are costs and we have to maintain it. And now as ED, I never wanted to give anybody any bad news. So that was for me a bit of a worry. So at the start of the year, my goal for the year was mostly to ensure that we could continue functioning. My initial thought at the start of the year was "Oh my word, the world's going to a terrible place". I know other foundations that really lost a lot of funding and they're in significant issues. And so I was like, okay, as an ED, let's be careful. We've got this mission we're trying to deliver and drive it. Let's make sure we can keep it going. And the reality is, and this is the thing that so surprised me about us, is that we've grown over the year. We kept on growing. We kept on growing, we kept on growing. And I took an opportunity and we had a healthy budget. And there are a lot of people suddenly on the market with such wonderful talent. And we've now grown such a wonderful team in the foundation, very, very strong in their field. And we were just in a great situation. So we've a) grown a great staff, really strong staff who've been driving some amazing work throughout this year.
Gaël [00:11:18] I've got a quick question. How many people are actually working for the Green Software Foundation?
Asim [00:11:26] I don't know, because we have quite a lot of staff that are part time. We have one, two, three, four, five full time - no eight full time staff members, currently right now. Some of them might be on more of a temporary full-time contract. But we have definitely five people who are just completely full time all the way through, and also other people who are allocated from the Linux Foundation on a permanent part time basis. Yes, we have like a good staff, but also because we do a lot of things like, you know, we don't have a full-time designer, but we have a designer. We do have a full-time web developer, we got a developer, we have writers, we have multiple writers on staff, we have a designer, we have multiple people who we go out to on an ad hoc basis.
Gaël [00:12:22] Asim, you're not full time working for the Green Software Foundation are you? Because you've got your job at Intel also, or are you now fully allocated by Intel to the Green Software Foundation?
Asim [00:12:33] I'm not fully allocated by Intel to the Green Software Foundation. So, we have strange bylaws, we have this role of chairperson, which has to be an unpaid position. It is the leader of the organization and has to be one of the steering member organizations. Yeah, that's me. And I am very generously, my role at intel pays for my role here. I do say I have two full time jobs. It's kind of my life right now. I have a I have a calendar that is crazy. I have multiple admins supports to help me just figure out and navigate the whole space. But yeah, that's kind of my world, right now.
Gaël [00:13:14] I understand why you need so much meditation.
Asim [00:13:17] Yeah. Yeah.
Gaël [00:13:20] But. Okay, so coming back to the initial question, because you mentioned the means, the budgets and the fact that you've been able to secure funding and actually to grow. But how do you explain the success you made in the tech industry today?
Asim [00:13:35] So I've been kind of contemplating this. It's hard to pin down, I'll be honest with you. I think we have a very good reputation amongst the industry. We have a very good reputation amongst the industry, non-profits and in academia. We have a rare foundation in that we have representation from across the board. I would say there's a couple of ways of working that we have, that I think are quite fundamental. Like when the foundation first started, there was hardly anybody out there. Everybody was asking themselves, everybody's telling me - i remember one organization came to me and said, "You know, Microsoft tells me this, Amazon tells you that, and Google tells you this. I don't really know what to do. Then there's other organizations telling me this, and this other thing, and then there's this paper over here, and that over there." And so, the really the one word we would try and run, the mantra we had at the start was trust. We need to grow a trusted ecosystem. We need to create a place where people can trust. And so that's actually why when we formed, we formed as what's called a 'standards body'. So, we were actually a standards body at heart. You also do open-source, you also do these other things. And that means that when you're a standards body, we have so many rules around collaboration, like the open-source foundations (not to criticize open-source foundations) but open source foundations do not have those rules, which, I think, makes for a much more collaborative environment inside the Green Software Foundation than in other organizations. For instance, we run a lot of our projects and all of our working groups and everything through a consensus model. That means that every organization has got to agree before we move forward. And we also have a rule where that you if you're a nonprofit, it doesn't matter if you're Microsoft with 100,000 employees or you're a nonprofit with ten, you actually hold the same amount of power inside the Green Software Foundation as each other. When I was first forming it, a lot of nonprofits were, I was speaking to them and we want we want to create a big church, have everybody who's talking about the space here. And they were like, "We don't want to join. We've joined other foundations. We just get bullied by the enterprises. Our voices just get silenced. You just use us as effectively greenwashing for your things. And I was like, look, trust, you know me, I'm not doing this to greenwash. I had a reputation previously. We have these rules, you can join and we have a very specific way of working, which is if you're in a working group and you do not like what is happening, you do not like a change that is being made to a spec, you do not like a wording that is being proposed for a white paper, you have to say the words 'I object'. It can't just be like a strong argument. It's like a magic incantation. You have to say the words 'I object' either written or spoken. And then we actually have very specific rules for how we get over that objection. And eventually, if we can't get over it through discussion, we have a voting mechanism, so we have this extremely collaborative mechanism where anything that we create, you know, everybody has the opportunity to say no. So, when we actually publish something, so we publish something like the SCI specification, the advantage of it is that anybody out there can create a spec. It's so easy to create a spec, it's nothing. You just write something out. And a lot of other organizations, it's just one or two organizations, just write a spec and go, 'Are you all right with this? Hmm, I wasn't part of the meeting’. Where is when we publish the SCI, every single organization had specific input into that. And so because of this mechanism that we have, when we release the SCI, everybody's already adopting it because they've already been discussing it intensely inside their organization, it's already been used in academic research, already being used in all these areas. It's really ridiculously hard, the consensus model is agonizing, honestly. Sometimes you just want to go like, okay, I'll make the call. But it's the thing I think that creates the trust, because that allows your member organizations, the nonprofits, the academics, to engage because they know that their voice is going to matter. And then when we release something, it allows people to trust what we release because they're like, "Well, look all those names behind it and they really are behind it." So, I always use the word trust. I think trust is what this space needed and trust is what we're trying to provide.
Gaël [00:18:34] Before moving to everything you do concretely because what you've explained is super, super important, I'd like to go a bit more in-depth. I've got like this question about the potential downside, which is until when, or until how many could it work? Because a consensus with ten is hard to obtain, with hundred is ridiculously hard, and with 1000, I don't even know if it's possible. So how do you foresee the future and is it connected, which is my question number two, to a very strict onboarding process? That you don't welcome anyone or you welcome anyone, but following very strict rules that will avoid to have some kind of a...
Asim [00:19:23] Malicious intent…
Gaël [00:19:24] Insiders with a general philosophy...
Asim [00:19:26] Yeah. So I think we're trying to educate people on, is that consensus is ridiculously hard. But however hard the consensus is, like, if you saying if there's a thousand people we need to get around to make a consensus, that's actually good. Because that means that once you get people, eventually put all that effort in, and all that negotiation, you've got a thousand people who are about to adopt something. So you've kick started that whole process. We have mechanisms where we do have a voting mechanism, which we have rarely used. I will say that there have been and I have been some extreme [moments]. You know, we're in the sustainability space. Everybody in the sustainability space, we all care about the same thing, but we have different views on certain topics. There are very powerful views on those topics. There have been some extremely tense 'I object' things, where everybody is a wonderful human being who deeply cares, passionately cares about it, and there's not really a clear path forward. But we've always found we've always found a compromise all the way through.
Gaël [00:20:39] Yeah. Okay. So, you do have this kind of nuclear option, that is the big stick that if we don't manage to get consensus, there is another way and nobody wants to use it but hey it's here. So, it drives people toward a collaborative mode.
Asim [00:20:57] Okay, But the truth is the thing, I think that I used to be very nervous about this model because it was a strong recommendation to me at the start. And I was like, okay, ughhhh, I'm used to more command-and-control structures. I now fully trust the process of getting a bunch of passionate people, passionate, knowledgeable people, together on a subject. As long as that group is large enough and diverse enough, you will always get to the right solution. I'm a very trusting of that whole process. We also do have projects which you don't run through consensus, more of, like open-source projects. If there is literally a piece of software, we're not going to have a consensus on every single pull request merge.
Gaël [00:21:43] No, obviously.
Asim [00:21:44] But we have a slightly different mechanism called 'graduation'. Once you graduate, you're free to do what you want, and there's still a lot of oversight.
Gaël [00:21:55] So, let's deep dive. And that was very, very enlightening on the work of the Green Software Foundation. And let's deep dive a bit on what actually you provide, because I had obviously a quick look on the Green Software Foundation websites. Well, it would make anyone realize that the GSF provide a lot of tools. Just to name a few principles on green software engineering. SCI, as you already mentioned, Carbon Aware SDK, the green software maturity metrics that Anne Currie very recently advocated, and I was not aware of it, so of course I had to look at it. The software carbon efficiency rating, how you've gone through community tools, the green software champions or a state of green software study, so there are quite a lot of them. Could you try to make sense of them? What connects them and why are they interesting or important?
Asim [00:22:54] So there's a lot going on and a lot of people of engaging on a lot of fronts in the Foundation. We have four main working groups: standards, policy, community and open source. So standards is the software carbon intensive specification - most of our projects are in that area because we are just like an expert at making standards, and getting people to sit and agree and all other stuff. So software carbon intensive specification is a thing that I'm so incredibly proud of because that specification was built by people who had been actively trying to measure the emissions of software inside their organizations using the GHG or other mechanisms and for a while had seen the real limitations of that protocol when applied to software and had, when they first started off the process of building the ECI, they had this idea - what we want this to be, what do want this to drive. And there were some very early decisions. I was staring at this zoom room full of people, with such pride - wow, you all really are making wonderful decisions here. But they were [saying]: We want to make sure that the spec drives certain behaviors. We don't want the behaviors that we know are good to be an accidental byproduct of a spec, which is often what happens. These are the behaviors, so what is the spec that we need to drive these behaviors? We need people to invest in more energy efficient software. We need people to into making stuff more energy efficient. We need people to invest in using fewer servers and using less embodied carbon, using less hardware. And we need people to invest in making software carbon-aware. These are the things that people have been trying for years inside their organizations to get effort into. And they were [saying 'The gesture isn't helping us, it's not driving any of this stuff. And in fact it's harming a lot of our efforts". The market-based emissions loophole and GHG kills off any effort to make any work in the energy efficiency space. It just does not happen.
Gaël [00:25:23] It has been changing recently.
Asim [00:25:24] The GHG?
Gaël [00:25:25] Fortunately.
Speaker 1 Asim [00:25:25] Yeah there are movements but...
Gaël [00:25:28] That it's too much location based rather than a market-based approach. But yeah, I was I was very, very relieved when I read the latest SCI specification, when it became really public, to see the public version, to see that embedded carbon was taken into consideration, that the main first focus was you reduce everything. And offset is just what has absolutely to remain, and that offset is almost off the table. That's not the topic. The topic is really, yeah, it's about reduction.
Asim [00:26:00] By the we say it's about elimination. Like the only way to reduce your score is to eliminate your emissions. But when you talk about a lot of our projects, a lot of the work we do is really about measurement.
Gaël [00:26:13] Can I ask one final question about the SCI, because I know that a lot of people listening the podcast are developers, designers, that can truly leverage this kind of tool. But my question is, do you believe that today the SCI has closed the gap with the GHG protocol? And let me elaborate a bit on it, because that's really something I'm struggling with some clients - that the SCI hubs definitely help to steer the decarbonization of your software in the right direction, especially taking into account the embedded carbon, in not only energy, which is electricity consumption actually, but when you say, okay, I wrote this piece of software and I now believe that when I run it, it emits, I don't know, several kilos of greenhouse gas or CO2 equivalent, [and so] it's not really easy to connect with one bucket, one slot in the GHG protocol, because it will split it between electricity consumption, what are the goods you buy or whatever services you bought to build this software? So do you believe that actually this gap could be closed at some point? Do you believe it has already been closed? Or actually it doesn't really matter, because it's a tool to steer people in the right direction. And at some point you will also see obviously the benefits in greenhouse gas protocol reporting, even if it's not directly connected, you know, one line really related to another.
Asim [00:27:48] So I would say that they are completely different tools. When you measure something, you're trying to find the answer to a question. GHG is just a different set of questions than SCI. GHG is trying to answer the very specific question: what is one organization's emissions separate to another organization's emissions? Because the unit of pressure, responsibility, accountability is an organization. And the belief is that if you tell an organization what their emissions are, they will somehow drive reductions. The SCI is just trying to answer a different question, is trying to answer what is the intensity of a piece of software? Because I don't even want the SCI ever to be used in a reporting context like that, because we are trying to drive behavior change through the SCI, rather than just ticking a box of what are your carbon emissions. We always say this, it actually doesn't even matter what the carbon emission value on the right-hand side of the SCI is. All that matters is that the actions that you take, that we know our actions that drive down emissions, i.e., reduce electricity consumption, [and which] will reduce that score. If you have that connection, that's how you drive behavior change. You, as somebody who works in organizations, the GHG serves a very important function, which is we need to know all of the total carbon budget. What is one organization or one country responsible for versus another one? It does not drive behavior change. If you make your software consume less energy, it is extremely unlikely that that will be reflected in the GHG reporting numbers for your organization. If you make your application carbon aware, it is impossible for that to be reflected in your organization's carbon reporting number, because of that complete break in behaviors and numerical reporting. It does not drive behavior change. That's the really important thing. That's the thing that I realized over the years. What happens often times inside organizations and I've seen it multiple times, is that people spend ages calculating their carbon footprint. And then you submit a PDF and everybody's happy, and then you go away and do the same thing next year. How was that action? Can you connect the dots between programs inside your organization that are trying to search for funding? And we know 100% will reduce emissions. And this reporting mechanism, which doesn't care about keeping those connections from, you know, actions that you take to this carbon figure, that is actually what's so important. That's the kind of a message I'm really trying to get along the world. It doesn't matter. Calculating your carbon footprint does not matter if you, in that, process have broken the understanding of the actions that you can take to drive down that number. And that's oftentimes what happens because concrete number is so unbelievably hard. Use a thousand spreadsheets. You copy values from one spreadsheet to another, and you lose. You lose that relationship. And then at the end of the day, there's some team going, you know, I need $1,000,000. I'm pretty sure I can reduce actual emissions by 10%. And then people go, "Well, you might be able to reduce actual emissions by 10%. But the way we calculate our carbon with the assumptions that we make and the averages we've have to use, and our auditors have insisted that we can't use that figure, we have to use that figure." So unfortunately, even though you could actually reduce 10% of of physical carbon emissions, the way we measure doesn't recognize that. Therefore that work will not happen. That is that is what I'm seeing happening multiple times, repeatedly. And that is what I think is broken about our space right now.
Gaël [00:32:15] Yeah, I agree with you. That's why that's why you need the Chief sustainability officer to have a very open and transparent discussion with CTU and CIO because they both need to acknowledge they will have the same goals, not using exactly the same tools. And that the GHG audit end of the year is a lagging indicator in that some of the indicators that could become the sustainable dashboard of any CTO or any CIO around the globe is more in need of leading indicators. And you know that at the end of the day you will achieve the same results. But you need to understand also that the bridges are not there and it's not just copy pasting and it will work. I'm very happy that you made the point because that yeah, I think I will refer to you as like the director of the Green Software Foundation site. So, so please believe me that you can track multiple things, or the same thing in different ways. And that actually that's a very consistent way to work so that you will achieve meaningful progress rather than just one north star, then, you know, sometimes still you are in the wrong direction.
Asim [00:33:27] Yeah. And, and I find that quite frustrating and annoying. I always say when I go to a doctor for a health check, it's not just weigh me and then that's it. They weigh me, they check my height. You see your blood pressure, you see this etc. There are all of these things that you need to measure, all completely different units. They're very different ways of measuring so you understand what is going on and what do you need to do. And there is a complete obsession with this one, not just carbon value, but one methodology of measuring carbon and assuming that this one is the magical way of measuring which will inform you of all of the things that you need. It's like it's like an organization saying the only metric every single department needs to know is profit. And you should be able to figure everything else out. You should be able to figure everything else out from profit. I don't need that. I need to know employee satisfaction. I need to know customer happiness. I need to know how many people are visiting my website and if people are dropping up, I need to know all these things. And that's the same we need in the sustainability space.
Gaël [00:34:35] We agree. That reminds me, you know, the crazy focus we had in the eighties, in the nineties about fat. You know, fat fat fat fat fat. You realize that when you crack the surface, half of the studies were sponsored by the sugar industry, that actually fat is not the issue -I mean don't get me wrong, eating too fatty can lead to a significant disease - but sugar is way more an issue than fat. It's quite kind of funny. Obviously. We talked a lot about the SCI, software carbon Intensity - which is so important of carbon intensity, but there are a lot of other initiatives going on. Do you fancy giving us a tour or maybe highlighting what could be the most beneficial for doers in the tech industry?
[00:35:22] So therefore, I recommend the training that we have learned on our greensoftware.foundation
site, which is often used to be called the 'principles'. That has been an effort just to get everybody on the same page. Unlike others before, we weren't even all using the same terms. Our conversations are confusing, so it's just a way of getting everybody on the same page, everybody in the same language. Even if you having a conversation, if you're on the same page and you are having a conversation with a customer or somebody else, you can send them to our training to get on the same page. In terms of what wer are working on in the future, hopefully next year we'll be working on more certification.
Gaël [00:36:08] Still working with the Linux Foundation?
Asim [00:36:11] So we're still we're having some conversations [about] where to learn that right now. But yeah, we'll probably want to do it for free, which is a challenge for the cost structure of the Linux foundation that does that. But yeah, so, that's where our education arm is going. And again, all of this stuff is stuff that we do through consensus, through our members. So, some of the stuff, it really depends on whether the members feel this is an area that they want to invest that time into. There's a lot of work going on in the standards space. One project I want to highlight is a project that I've been particularly putting a lot of my personal attention in is there's a lot of interest from our members in this particular project and we're going to be announcing it at DeCarb and it’s called Impact Framework. And what it is, it's a tool to allow you to measure the environmental impacts of software. Now it won't scan anything. It won't do anything. You have to manually create a manifest file, a YAML file to describe everything, but hey, here's what happens all the time. Somebody measures a piece of software or makes a claim about a measurement or a user story or something like that. And it's always written up in English in like some PDF remarked on file. No, it's just like, it's like someone writing a blog post, I guess. There's no structure to it. What this is like is a YAML file where you gather some user data about your application workloads. This is the backend workloads. This is the utilization. This is this, this is that, this is the other, you gather data, you put it into a YAML file and then you actually very explicitly say, "Hey look, you can define a pipeline of computation and again it's all in the YAML, you can install plugins, all different types of modules that you want to use and we've standardized the interface to models". So, let's say you want to use, - I'm using the Boa Vista model - and then let's say, you know what I actually want to use- What times- what time are big supporters of the marginal emission factors for and I trust most of exposed I want to use what time versus resources, electricity maps. And so, you can really define, not only you're putting your data with this manifest file, but then you're explicitly stating your method, your methodology of calculation. This is how I'm taking that utilization figure. I'm turning into carbon, and that is all in a manifest file. So, when you report a carbon figure, you're not telling me a carbon figure, you're sending me a YAML file, that I will then execute and I will then see what your carbon figure is. And then you know what? I don't like some of your assumptions that you've made. I don't like the fact that you've used this coefficient for the database. I think you're being a bit too generous there, that I'm going to use my coefficient. I don't like the fact that you use values from that paper for your networking. I prefer the values from that other paper. So, it's making the whole thing just fully transparent. You're not just people, not just telling you what your carbon emissions are. Here's your money. Here is my working out, here is my manifest. The future that I see is that every open-source project in the world has this YAML file and its root directory, and you know what the emissions profile of this application is. My dream is, in the future, every single software product that's released, every single version of it, will come with one of these manifest files. There are so many use cases that people are coming up with for this thing. Yeah, those are projects I'm extremely excited about. I put a lot of my personal effort into it, and energy, and I think it's going to be quite transformative in the industry.
Gaël [00:40:02] And actually I didn't realize how deep it was, how structural, I would say it could be. For me, it was more like an extension of the sky. But no, it's more rooted in. Yeah. Has a huge potential of making significant change. And fun fact is, while you were talking about it, it was like, hmmm, that could be a box to be ticked in the Green Software maturity metrics. You know, that's okay if you are truly at this level of maturity, all your code will have this YAML, file, etc. This is kind of the idea as well?
Asim [00:40:42] Yeah. I think I will now talk to with others, it was still pre alpha so I'm trying to get to the point where, a lot of what I've just explained to you would be just obvious by looking at the project. Unfortunately, there's a lot of just old code hidden away in places. But yeah, that would be that would be an ideal place. I've even had somebody say they want to create, - they're selling more of a physical product, and they want to create a QR code which would point people to the YAML file, because you can do with a physical product as well. There's nothing stopping you from using this YAML file as a LCA for physical stuff as well. So yeah.
Gaël [00:41:24] I would love to talk about all the other projects as well, the tools, etc., but being mindful of all time, I'd like to talk a bit about the interaction of the Green Software Foundation with the rest of the ecosystem. I understood from your earlier description that your strategy is mostly to produce norms and methods and standards. This is what you are excellent at, quoting yourself. But yeah, that's my advice as well. But that leads me to a very important question, which is how do you connect with other initiatives in Europe? You've mentioned Boavista, but also sustainability.org. This initiative in Germany around the Blue Angel label, Blue Angel Label Green software. I don't remember the German word for it. Obviously in French you've got several big initiatives like the INR, Sustainable I.T.. How did you translate it? IT Sustainability Institute or something like that, institute in your area, because...
Asim [00:42:33] I know that...
Gaël [00:42:33] ...In Switzerland and in Belgium and. And actually, it could go all the way up to - we already mentioned the GHG protocol - but do you plan at some point to become ISO norms? So how do you see yourself in this ecosystem?
Asim [00:42:51] Because you mentioned ISO, the SCI is actually now an ISO approved specification. So, we've gone through all those processes and it was ratified by 195 countries, which I didn't know that was the actual process for the ISO. But yeah, we, adjust to the pace of the feedback. So, there is that. So I'll just tell you one of the things, that we have a theory of change which was developed to our members, which is basically like three pillars. We need changes in knowledge, we need changes in tooling. And we need changes in culture. The culture is a big one. We need that. We need a cultural change in order for people to prioritize a lot of these things. We went through this whole exposure to this theory change. Then we went through this exercise of what are all the things we need to change in the world to make all of those things happen? And then we went through the exercise of 'Well, are we even the right organization to make that change?' Because we don't have to be the right organization. And one of the things that we're doing a lot more now is we are, especially amongst the LF foundations, because in a lot of the foundations, there is like a working group or an arm or like a new there's a sustainability focused little team inside. They're focusing how to do that part of that fund. Now, whatever the foundations focus areas is more sustainably. So and also there's multiple organizations like the ones you mentioned out there. Our working group, the one that's responsible for connecting all those dots is a policy working group. But there's so many dots and everybody's a volunteer and we've even with the staff, there's just too many too many things going on. So one of the things we want to start doing for next year. So actually some of those you mentioned, we actually do have very specific arrangements with some of the sustainability i.t. Org. We have an MOU understanding, and that they're collaborating together on a piece of work in the Policy working group, and some of the others are members of the foundation. But one thing we really want to start doing from next year after we're going to call them roundtables, which are closed door meeting. In fact, I think I stole the idea from Boavista, because they were doing this a while ago, but closed-door meetings, with Chatham House Rules. So you have a bit of freedom to talk. Well, we invite everybody together, like one day a quarter. We'll arrange everything, and we just talk to each other. And I think that's just the most important thing. Just talk to each other. And there's so much going on, it's hard for you to keep a track. It's not the case of people stepping on each other's toes. We're just all busy and no one knows. You've barely got enough time to figure out what you're doing. So, trying to keep an eye on what everybody else is doing, you just don't have the time. So we want to create an environment where we bring everybody together and we just we talk. Maybe we do a show and tell, and we just keep the lines of communication open. And then we do things like, Hey, look, we were going to do X, but you seem like you're much more suited, so why don't you go about it? You focus on X, you focus on Y, you focus on Z, and then we all support each other. We really want to create that kind of collaborative now, hat's what we do with it. We're a collaborative organization. The way I want it to be is much more to help everybody get together, to help the whole ecosystem get together, and just all be moving in the same direction. And again, we're just all busy. That's the thing. If there is stuff that's not moving in the same direction, it's just because we're busy most of the time. Or maybe there is a difference of opinions that could be there as well. But we're not like competitors where we're kind of intentionally trying to come up with different things at the same time. So that's the idea, it is just to get everybody together. We'll figure it out.
Gaël [00:46:48] Well, I love the philosophy Asim, because actually, I know that you know, but you know only since a few minutes so it's still a bit of a surprise for you I guess, but we will have a Green IO conference in Paris December the 8th. And of course, all the listeners can get free tickets. So it's just a matter of pinging me on LinkedIn or by email. But most of the listeners, they already know it. And this conference, I really want to have a roundtable with most of the organizations, and I didn't know that you wanted to create this roundtable approach is for 2024. I think this is absolutely awesome. But as you know, it's also why I launched this podcast. This is a very DNA of the Green IO podcast. So congratulation and obviously I hope that either you or a representative of the Green Software Foundation will be able to join the onsite roundtable in Paris with many other organizations, to discuss about collaboration, steering things in the right direction, and also acknowledging our differences. Because this is how the world works, and how it moves beautifully toward a more sustainable future. Hopefully. So, that's kind of funny. I didn't expect this announcement. So pretty cool. And now closing the podcast, I've got my two last questions. What piece of news would you like to share that recently uplifted you when it comes to our move toward sustainability and maybe a bit more digital sustainability?
Asim [00:48:27] So the news that gives the most optimism is just I'm a big believer in the fact that we need to have a deep cultural shift in society to actually make a solution. Now, I don't think this is going to be, I think everything else just really stems from there. I think there's been a massive shift up to this point. But, um, but that's really what makes me excited about is just a number of people and I'm very lucky to speak to a lot of people, a number of people like yourself, and others in this space, who are, you know, just talking about these questions. And I think that's all you really need to have, is just have people talking about these questions. That is 99% of the challenge. I remember once I was speaking at a conference in sustainability, and it still comes to me quite often, which was, afterwards the audience came up to me and they said, you know what? You're the first person who's ever spoken to me about sustainability and were giving me solutions; and they were energized and the other speaker, and he's quite famous, not to name him, but his fundamental nature, his talk was like very doom and gloom. In fact, this is why I do not remotely talk about any of the aspects of climate change, I don’t think it matters. I just focus on the solution. And I think that's what I'm seeing a lot more of, I'm seeing a cultural shift with people where you go, "right let's dig in, we're focusing on solutions, okay, you do X, you do Y. This is the solution the GSF said what? Said do that? Ok let's focus on that. So as I said it's like I'm seeing that kind of action happening and that kind of conversation happening. I always said, for us in our part of the space, all we really need to do is just to have people, when things are being proposed, when features are being proposed, to actually say, hey, look, what is a sustainability aspect to this? Sustainability is not the most important thing for everybody. It will never be. Security is important. All these other things are important. But as long as we could just have somebody go, what about sustainability? Just having to ask that question is enough for me, because I think that we're there now. We're there at the table with everything else, and now we just are doing a negotiation, and that's the culture shift. Like honestly, four years ago, if any, if there was even one article published which mentioned anything around green stuff or anything by tech sustainability, we all lost our heads over it. And now the foundation's got a weekly newsletter where we're just jamming it full of information. All the news is going on, you've got your podcast, we've got all this, there's loads of material out there. I talk to multiple organizations that have said to me very explicitly, we are willing to spend more on sustainability this year. It's been more challenging to get that kind of answer from an organization, but the fact that we're still getting it is a really positive sign. So from where I sit, I'm just seeing like a hockey stick curve up. So I always get a lot of inspiration. But one of the things I'm very adamant about and it's one of the values, one of the values of the foundation, is that we focus very much on solutions. We talk about solutions. We don't solve our problems. I'm not in that space. I don't care. I've got enough people with climate anxiety who are just sitting there and they just get shouted out all the time by people about how everything's going to pop. Doesn't matter. Like knuckle down. Work on solutions. Ask us what gives me a lot of inspiration.
Gaël [00:52:34] Thanks a lot for joining us. Thanks for all these great insights that you shared with us and hope to see you soon in Paris or somewhere else.
[00:52:45] Thank you so much for having me here and hopefully see you at an event soon. And just another final statement, we said, please come, please visit the decarbonized software event - it is happening on the 16th of November. It's online. It's free. It's about two and a half hours. We've got community speakers from all over, talking about various topics. We'll be talking about some of the releases, some of the Champions program, which I've not even mentioned, but we're launching an MVP style Champions program, the Impact Framework, a bunch of other things we'll be talking about. And if you go to Decarb.GreenSoftware.Foundation
, that's where you can sign up.
Gaël [00:53:23] Thank you for listening to this Green IO episode. In episode 28, we will talk about A.I., but artificial intelligence with a purpose. I focus on data for good as we see it labeled quite often. I will have the pleasure to host Lou Welgryn and Théo Alphas Da Costa, the founders of Data for Good, who made the headlines this month with their data visualization of the 422 carbon bombs which might detonate worldwide, and Anastasis Stamis, the founder of Data for Hire, the first data for good impact driven startup in Greece (self-claimed) providing ESG and sustainable data integration, management and analytics. Stay tuned.
Gaël [00:54:08] Before you leave, a small message for my sponsor. No, I'm kidding. Green IO is a free and independent podcast, and so we need your help to keep it that way. You can help us by supporting us on Tipeee, and the link is in the episode notes. I also give online and on-site conferences and facilitate workshops about climate change and digital sustainability. So do get in touch if that interests you. It's a good way to allow me to keep investing in the podcast. Full disclosure: each episode takes me roughly 15 hours of work finding the guest, convincing them, researching the topics, and it costs between three and €400 to produce. Now you know everything. If you cannot donate, that's fine. You can support us by spreading the word. Rate the podcast five stars on Apple and Spotify. Share an episode on social media or directly visit the website. Seriously. Thanks for your support. It means a lot to us, us being me, but also Tani Levitt our amazing podcast Producer Engineer and Jill Tellier our amazing podcast curator. Stay tuned by subscribing to Green IO on your favorite podcast platform or via the Green IO mailing list. The link is in the episode notes, but you already know the drill. Every two weeks you will get more insights and premium content to help you, the responsible technologists scattered all over the world, build a greener digital world.