AI's carbon footprint problem


For all the advances enabled by artificial intelligence, from speech recognition to self-driving cars, AI systems consume a lot of power and can generate high volumes of climate-changing carbon emissions. A study last year found that training an off-the-shelf AI language-processing system produced 1,400 pounds of emissions--about the amount produced by flying one person roundtrip between New York and San Francisco. The full suite of experiments needed to build and train that AI language system from scratch can generate even more: up to 78,000 pounds, depending on the source of power. But there are ways to make machine learning cleaner and greener, a movement that has been called "Green AI." Some algorithms are less power-hungry than others, for example, and many training sessions can be moved to remote locations that get most of their power from renewable sources.

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