The Cost of Code

Coders code. That’s what we do. We write functions and classes and modules, and we conjure amazing systems out of thin air. Electrons dance at our command; with a few keystrokes we can solve the most complex calculations, find hidden patterns in the data of our everyday lives, and send information flying around the planet at the speed of light.

The world uses our code to book flights, pay taxes, talk to friends and family… and before too long, our code might be driving cars, diagnosing illnesses and convicting criminals. Code runs the world. And when our code goes wrong, the solution is almost always… more code. We ship millions of lines of code every day – and, in these days of smartphones and networks and IOT, a single line of code could be running on millions of devices within minutes of us deploying it to production. But have you ever stopped to consider the real cost of those lines of code? Your code might end up running in production for years, maybe decades.

It’ll become one small part of a giant global codebase that’s using literally trillions of processor cycles and hundreds of billions of kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. A codebase that’s hiding countless vulnerabilities, flaws and dependencies. A codebase that’s driving users to buy millions of new laptops and smartphones and tablets every year because the old ones are too slow, or won’t run the latest apps. A codebase that is literally changing the world we live in - and not always for the better. In this talk, we’ll take a stark, sobering look at the real cost of the code we’re shipping every day. What’s the real cost of code - to our organisations, to our society, to our environment? How can we help our teams and users understand that cost? And what can we do to reduce it?

Other talks by Dylan Beattie