The letters “AI” in neon on a black background by Igor Omilav on Unsplash

It seems like every corporation wants to use AI. This is not good for the environment, especially since it sucks up water and steals electricity that humans need in order to survive.

The BBC reported: … The world’s data centres are using ever more electricity and the International Energy Alliance (IEA) expects this to double in just four years. Data centres could be using a total of 1,000 terawatts hours annually by 2026. “This demand is roughly the equivalent to the electricity consumption of Japan,” said IEA. Japan has a population of 125 million people.

Forbes posted some concerning facts about ChatGPT, water, and electricity:

  1. ChatGPT consumes over half a million kilowatts of electricity each day, an amount staggering enough to serve about two hundred million requests.
  2. ChatGPT’s daily power usage is nearly equal to 180,000 U.S. households each using about twenty-nine kilowatts.
  3. A single ChatGPT conversation uses about fifty centiliters of water, equivalent to one plastic bottle.

A recent OECD policy report reported that AI’s water footprint varies significantly depending on where it is trained and hosted. For example, AI consumes 1.8-12 liters of water for each kWh of energy usage across Microsoft’s global data centres, with Ireland and the state of Washington being the most and least water-efficient locations, respectively.

According to Forbes, fresh water only makes up 2.5% of the world’s total volume and more than half of that is ice. Agriculture uses 70% of what’s actually usable. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to suffer from water scarcity, which will affect all aspects of people’s lives.

Anthropologist Steven Gonzalez Monserrate took field notes about “The Staggering Ecological Impacts of Computation and the Cloud” on MIT Press Reader:

…The flotsam and jetsam of our digital queries and transactions, the flurry of electrons flitting about, warm the medium of the air. Heat is the waste product of computation, and if left unchecked, it becomes a foil to the workings of digital civilization. Heat must therefore be relentlessly abated to keep the engine of the digital thrumming in a constant state 24 hour a day, every day.

To quell this thermodynamic threat, data resource centers overwhelmingly rely on air conditioning, a mechanical process that refrigerates the gaseous medium of air, so that it can displace or life perilous heat away from computers. Today, power-hungry computer room air conditions (CRACs) or computer room air handlers (CRAHs) are staples of even the most advanced data centers.

…As a result, the Cloud now has a greater carbon footprint than the airline industry….

Humans need access to clean water and electricity. I have concerns that the corporations that are messing around with AI could potentially take away the things that actual humans need, in an effort to feed their expensive — and likely worthless — AI addiction.

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