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AI’s Dirty Secret: The Shocking Carbon Footprint of the Technology That Powers Our Lives

Mar. 09, 2023.
1 min. read 2 Interactions

AI's rapid growth is causing a massive increase in carbon emissions. Experts call for transparency and efficiency.

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Lewis Farrell

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Highly curious about things that increase my awareness, expand my perception, and make me open to being a better person.

Because AI consumes more energy than other forms of computing, its rapid growth is causing a massive increase in planet-warming carbon emissions. AI’s success in industries such as retail and medicine necessitates a significant investment in electricity to create new chatbots and image generators. For example, the development of a single AI model can consume more electricity than 100 US homes in a single year. The AI sector is growing so quickly that no one knows how much electricity and carbon emissions can be attributed to it, let alone its environmental impact. While some researchers have tallied the emissions from the development of a single model, and some companies have provided data on their energy consumption, there is no overall estimate for the total amount of power used by the technology. As a result, experts are calling for greater transparency in AI model power consumption and emissions. Governments and businesses may decide that using AI models for cancer research or indigenous language preservation is worth the electricity and emissions, but writing rejected Seinfeld scripts or finding Waldo is not. As AI models become more complex, it is critical that AI companies work to improve their efficiency in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

Source: IT Pro Today (link)
Images: MidJourney, Prompts by Lewis Farrell

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