Telepresence ranks #63 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. It could cut atmospheric carbon dioxide by 1.99 gigatons by 2050 at a cost of $US127.7 billion, creating a net savings of $1.31 trillion.
Businesses that use this climate solution, essentially a very high-end video conferencing system, could eliminate 82 billion hours of travel time for employees.
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The idea of telepresence has its origins in science fiction, but it was first named and brought to life by the late Marvin Minsky. Minksy was a professor specializing in artificial intelligence and, according to Drawdown, envisioned telepresence as “giving an individual the feeling of being there in a distance location and the ability to take action there”.
What was once science fiction is now a reality in a variety of places, from corporations to hospitals. Drawdown says telepresence technology involves an integrated set of “high-performance visual, audio and network technologies and services”. Not only can telepresence reduce emissions created by travel, but it can also save its users money in the long run, create more flexible schedules for employees, and increase the productivity of meetings.
Telepresence is a major investment, and requires the space, infrastructure, and technical support to get started. However, Drawdown says the cost of the system is paid off in one to two years, and the technology itself is becoming more accessible and reliable. With the increasing need to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions, telepresence use could become more widespread and perhaps even the norm for how business is conducted.