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New analysis makes grim prediction on growth of A.I. servers: ‘Power-hungry beasts’

“… The numbers that I write down — they are not small.”

“... The numbers that I write down — they are not small."

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Earlier this year, the internet was buzzing after new artificial intelligence threatened its users, raising concerns of a potential A.I. apocalypse

Yet there may be another pressing issue to address following the release of a peer-reviewed analysis focused on the growing energy needs of A.I. 

What’s happening?

According to Delger Erdenesanaa of the New York Times, the study found the demand for A.I. — and the specialized computer chips it needs to operate — could lead to a jump in energy use, with the tech needing the electricity equivalent of a small country by 2027. 

“… The numbers that I write down — they are not small,” Alex de Vries, the data scientist responsible for the analysis, told the Times

The A.I. market primarily relies on hardware from technology company Nvidia, but de Vries added that the servers are “power-hungry beasts.” 

With competing companies reportedly looking to quickly ramp up their A.I. technology, some experts are advocating for energy use to be considered in the design.

Why is this concerning?

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the A.I. market is expected to take an incredible leap forward, with a compound annual growth rate of 42% in the next 10 years. 

While innovation has the potential to drive economic growth and provide solutions, it can also create hazards.

If companies prioritize speed above all else — including by utilizing fossil fuels such as gas to power their data centers, per the Times — the use of A.I. could add to the amount of harmful carbon pollution globally.

Raised levels of carbon dioxide have been linked to warmer temperatures worldwide, with the changing temps contributing to habitat disruptions and an increase in extreme weather events such as floods, wildfires, and hurricanes

What is being done about pollution due to A.I.?

While it is difficult to get exact totals on A.I. energy use because of a lack of transparency, one state recently passed two laws that could provide environmental accountability for more than 10,000 companies and set a new standard, per the Times

On Oct. 7, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would require private companies with revenue over $1 billion to report the amount of carbon they produce in operations by 2026 and in their supply chains by 2027. 

Companies that generate revenue of at least $500 million, meanwhile, would need to make public their climate-related financial risks by 2026. 

“There are few companies that are going to be able to say, we’re not going to do business in California,” Eric Orts, a Guardsmark professor at the Wharton School, told the Times. ”My guess is … that this will become, one way or another, a federal standard.”

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