Artificial intelligence is booming—so is its carbon footprint

By Josh Saul, Dina Bass

09 Mar 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

According to Bloomberg, AI demands high energy input and training a single model uses as much electricity as multiple homes in a year. There’s a lack of transparency over the issue, however.

Artificial intelligence has become the tech industry's shiny new toy, with expectations it'll revolutionize trillion-dollar industries from retail to medicine. But the creation of every new chatbot and image generator requires a lot of electricity, which means the technology may be responsible for a massive and growing amount of planet-warming carbon emissions.

Microsoft, Alphabet's Google and ChatGPT maker OpenAI use cloud computing that relies on thousands of chips inside servers in massive data centers across the globe to train AI algorithms called models, analyzing data to help them "learn" to perform tasks. The success of ChatGPT has other companies racing to release their own rival AI systems and chatbots or building products that use large AI models to deliver features to anyone from Instacart shoppers to Snap users to CFOs.

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