Mapping the environmental costs of AI.

A series curated by Melissa Gregg for ADM+S.

The need for practical, accurate knowledge of software’s physical dependencies on hardware has never been so urgent. As scholars and activists struggle to keep pace with the hype attached to new technologies by evangelists, the ongoing data spectacle threatens to distract from the ecological impacts of widespread, energy intensive electronics. Supply chains of finite resources feed engineers’ visions of the future, and face increasing strain and conflict as a silicon arms race transpires across borders. The geopolitics of the AI revolution requires urgent attention from the social and human sciences, given the substantial number of livelihoods dependent on technology manufacturing, distribution and consumption in every part of the globe.

Electronics Ecologies is a series of in-person workshops, expert discussions and accompanying livestreams that will bring environmental questions to the forefront of AI scholarship. Researchers, activists, technologists and policy professionals will map the supply chain and life cycle of electronics from a range of disciplinary perspectives to produce new networks, insights, standards and priorities to inform the problem and potential of sustainable electronics.

Each Electronics Ecologies event will be organised according to a theme that reflects a step in the life cycle of computer hardware. Researchers are invited to submit papers to be considered for selection and presentation, as well as publications arising. Scholars in the fields of cultural history, geography, media & communication, law, gender, indigenous and socio-technical studies are particularly welcome to complement the dominance of majority male engineering voices in debates about the future of technology and its uses.

The location of these discussions in the Asia-Pacific draws attention to the vast logistics network fueling the AI imaginary and the many forms of labor it employs and empowers. Electronics ecologies have always been distributed – it is the history of Silicon Valley profit seeking that led to this fact – despite today’s patriotic appeals from corporations looking to “reshore” and expand operations through government subsidies.

This series traces electronics elements back to their source so that technology use is once more a matter of material supply and demand. Only by placing computing within its geological, ecological and human context can we hope to achieve the vast energy and lifestyle changes that will lead to technology design and use in livable environments.


  • Repair – Rights, standards & services for extended product life – 30 August 2023, BRISBANE
  • Waste – Electronics discards, reuse & recycling – 30 October 2023, SYDNEY
  • Energy Part 1 – Fossil free hardware and software – 21-22 November 2023, MELBOURNE
  • Energy Part 2 – AI implementation and sustainability goal setting – 23 January 2024, MELBOURNE
  • Manufacturing – Assembly, test and supply – 4 December 2023, SINGAPORE
Moss grows over computer motherboard


Electronics < > Ecologies is presented by Melissa Gregg for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S).

Melissa Gregg

Melissa Gregg

Melissa is a consultant on sustainable and responsible technology design and an International Advisory Board Member at the ADM+S Centre. For the past decade, she led user experience research and sustainability strategy in various groups at Intel, after a career in Australian academia. She is author and co-editor of over 60 publications, including Media and Management (Meson 2021), Counterproductive: Time Management in the Knowledge Economy (Duke UP 2018), Work’s Intimacy (Polity 2011) and The Affect Theory Reader (Duke UP 2010). In 2023, she is Visiting Professor at RMIT.


In 2023, Dr Melissa Gregg joins the ADM+S Centre as a Senior Industry Fellow, leveraging her decade-long experience in the tech industry and forging new collaborations between communications studies, cultural geography, and the environmental humanities.

The primary objective of this Fellowship is the ELECTRONICS< > ECOLOGIES workshop series, providing strategic research outcomes and specialised training in sustainable electronics design and hardware studies, and foster a growing international community of scholars focused on exploring alternative economies of technology use and reuse, including diverse cultural practices of repair.

By hosting Mel at ADM+S, this collaboration takes advantage of Australia’s proximity to the vast hardware ecosystem in the Asia region, which plays a crucial role in high-tech assembly, testing, manufacturing, and distribution. Additionally, the collaboration capitalises on Mel’s background and knowledge of product design and distribution in the Silicon Valley, which historically obscures environmental accountability through offshoring and complex supply chain relationships.


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