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Computing as Ecocide

Published onJun 14, 2023
Computing as Ecocide


The environmental impact of computing is significant, distributed, and extensive. In this paper, we examine the extent to which this implies that computing, as an industry and as specific technologies, infrastructures, and practices, can be considered as ecocide. Ecocide is a proposed crime of environmental damage. A significant movement is underway to register ecocide as the fifth law of the International Criminal Court. We examine the definition of ecocide proposed and evaluate computing across the criteria established. Our intention with this paper is not to provide definitive proof, one way or the other, but to raise the question of the extent to which we can consider, be accountable for, and take responsibility for the environmental harm we create as designers of computing technologies. We argue that the establishment of ecocide as an international crime will have significant effects for computing in how we assume and consume natural resources in the advancement of computing, and that a paradigm shift is needed to recognise and account for nature as an equal participant in computing’s future and development.

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