What are the environmental impacts of artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence, climate change and possible solutions: A complex challenge

Nasa SWOT Mission explores bodies of water

Author: House of Eden

  • Artificial intelligence, energy consumption and CO2 emissions
  • Technology companies and their climate targets
  • Solutions for environmentally friendly AI applications

Although artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing our everyday lives, it also harbors risks and disadvantages. In addition to unemployment, a lack of transparency and discriminatory algorithms, high energy consumption and the associated carbon footprint are a growing problem. Especially in the field of crypto mining and internet indexing, the environmental impact is significant.

The dark side of artificial intelligence

Large language models like GPT-3 consume enormous amounts of energy and produce large amounts of CO2 emissions. Tech companies like OpenAI, Microsoft and Google don't provide specific information on the energy consumption of their AI systems, which makes it difficult to accurately assess the environmental impact. However, experts estimate that ChatGPT produces around 3,82 tons of CO2 equivalent every day, which continues to increase with the use of around 13 million users every day.

The integration of language models in search engines such as Bing leads to a further increase in energy requirements. Since AI models need to be retrained regularly to stay up-to-date, this also contributes to energy consumption. The technology sector is responsible for 1,8 percent to 3,9 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with AI and machine learning accounting for just a fraction.

In order to reduce the carbon footprint of AI, tech companies such as Microsoft and Google are setting climate targets, e.g. carbon negative by 2 and carbon-free energy supply by 2030. Researchers are working to better understand the ecological footprint of language models and ways to reduce the find environmental impacts.

Strategies for sustainable AI development

Combating climate change and minimizing the impact of AI requires collaboration and innovation at societal and global levels. Both individual efforts and political action at all levels are crucial. Experts emphasize that the impact of AI on the climate is not inevitable, but the result of decisions about the use and development of algorithms.

To ensure a more sustainable use of artificial intelligence, companies, research institutes and political actors must work together to develop environmentally friendly solutions that reduce energy consumption and reduce the carbon footprint. Transparency, regulation and wider public debate on the implications and use of AI are also essential.

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