Home Tech The ugly truth behind ChatGPT: AI is devouring resources at a rate that is devouring the planet | Mariana Mazzucato

The ugly truth behind ChatGPT: AI is devouring resources at a rate that is devouring the planet | Mariana Mazzucato

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 The ugly truth behind ChatGPT: AI is devouring resources at a rate that is devouring the planet | Mariana Mazzucato

W.When you imagine the tech industry, you probably think of things that don’t exist in physical space, like apps and the Internet browser on your phone. But the infrastructure needed to store all this information – physical data centers located in business parks and on the outskirts of cities – consumes enormous amounts of energy. Despite its name, the infrastructure used by the “cloud” accounts for more global greenhouse emissions than commercial flights. In 2018, for example, the 5 billion YouTube views of the viral song Despacito used the same amount of energy it would take to heat 40,000 American homes a year.

This is a hugely environmentally destructive aspect of the tech industry. While it has played an important role in reaching net zero, giving us smart meters and efficient solar energy, It is essential that we pay attention to your environmental footprint. Large language models, like ChatGPT, are some of the most energy-consuming technologies of all. Research suggests, for example, that some 700,000 liters of water could have been used to cool the machines that trained ChatGPT-3 at Microsoft’s data facility. It’s no news that the self-glorification of the tech bubble has obscured the uglier sides of this industry, from its propensity for tax evasion to its invasion of privacy and exploitation of our capacity of attention. The industry’s environmental impact is a key issue, but the companies that produce these models have remained remarkably silent about the amount of energy they consume, probably because they don’t want to raise our concerns.

of Google global data center and Goal ambitious plans for a new AI Research SuperCluster (RSC) further underscores the energy-intensive nature of the industry, raising concerns that these facilities could significantly increase energy consumption. Additionally, as these companies aim to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, they may choose to base their data centers on regions with cheaper electricity, such as southern united states, which could exacerbate water consumption problems in the driest areas of the world. Before making big announcements, technology companies should be transparent about the use of resources necessary for their expansion plans.

Additionally, while minerals such as lithium and cobalt are most commonly associated with batteries in the motor sector, they are also crucial for batteries used in data centers. The extraction process often involves significant use of water and can cause pollution, undermining water security. The extraction of these minerals is also usually linked to human rights violations and poor labor standards. Try to achieve the climate goal of limiting our dependence on fossil fuels can compromise another goal: ensuring that everyone has a safe and accessible water supply.

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Furthermore, when significant energy resources are needed If allocated to technology-related initiatives, it can lead to energy shortages for essential needs, such as residential power supply. Recent data from the United Kingdom shows that the country’s aging electricity grid is holding back affordable housing projects. This will only get worse as households move away from fossil fuels and become more reliant on electricity, putting even more pressure on the National Grid. In Bicester, for example, plans to build 7,000 new homes were put on hold because the electricity grid did not have enough capacity.

In an era where we expect companies to do more than just make profits For their stakeholders, governments must evaluate the organizations they fund and partner with based on whether their actions will result in concrete successes for people and the planet. In other words, policies should be designed not to pick sectors or technologies as “winners,” but to pick those who are willing, providing them with support that is conditional to companies that are moving in the right direction. Making disclosure of environmental practices and impacts a condition of government support could ensure greater transparency and accountability. Similar measures could promote corporate responsibility in global mineral supply chains, enforcing greater compliance with human rights..

Navigating the intersection between technological advancement and environmental sustainability, policymakers face the challenge of cultivating less extractive business models. It’s not just about taking a gradual approach; It is about taking a systematic and comprehensive view, empowering governments to build the necessary resources. planning and implementation capacity. Such an approach should avoid outdated top-down methods in favor of flexible strategies that integrate knowledge at all levels, from local to global. Only by adopting a holistic perspective can we effectively mitigate the significant environmental impacts of the technology industry.

Ultimately, despite the unprecedented wave of innovation since the 1990s, we have systematically overlooked the implications of these advances on the climate crisis. As climate scientists anticipate global warming will surpass the 1.5°C target, it is time we address today’s grand challenges systemically, so that solving one problem does not exacerbate another.

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