In the past few months, going through the internet to check the latest news has become incomplete without stumbling on articles based on AI. It was back in November 2022, when OpenAI launched its chatbot AI ChatGPT, quickly becoming a rage on the internet. ChatGPT has grown hugely popular in the tech world clocking in the 100 million user milestone in just two months. This led other tech giants like Microsoft to implement chatbot AI technologies in their own services like the search engine Bing. Google has also announced its ‘experimental conversational AI service’ named Bard. While we can all be in awe of AI technologies advancing to the point where we can use them on our mobile devices, the environmental effect of the same cannot be ignored. So what exactly will be the ecological effect of the current AI race? Let’s find out –
How Google and Microsoft’s AI race can affect the planet
Tech giants like Google and Microsoft will use large language models to improve their search engine results. The big players in the tech industry claim that by the integration of AI, search engines will gain the ability to analyse and summarise complex data and offer ‘human-like’ responses to user queries. For both Google and Microsoft, maintaining computer systems to help the current search engines is already a daunting task. It is a resource-intense operation that already takes a lot of computing power. Thus, the integration of AI chatbot technology will make the operation even heavier leading to more energy consumption.
Wired recently reported that the power needed to train a single AI can produce a huge amount of carbon emissions. On the other hand, internet usage produces almost 4% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The report mentions that experts have warned that the computing power required to combine AI with search engine queries could increase up to 5 times for tech giants like Microsoft and Google. Naturally, with more computers required to fulfil the power needs, greenhouse emissions will also go up. It will be interesting to see how major tech players are planning to tackle this issue.