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On AI and Energy: The Hidden Facts

AI and energy consumption

Technological progress has it that the future will be about waves of digitization and data – with AI disrupting all industries.

Countries that possess energy will be able to use AI the most – knowing that AI uses more power to process instructions than anyone likes to admit: 1 verbal order given to a digital assistant requires 0.2 KwH – enough to boil 1 litre of water in +3 min.

Other than generating sales and growth, we estimate that 65% of future consumer AI-enabled devices have little to no real economic value – i.e. e-assistants and IoT etc. These tools will raise world electricity generation by an average +2% a year (0.5% to 3.5% being the lower and upper limits); the equivalent of 514 TwH of electricity (or 310 Trillion oil barrels) on average might go to waste.

Wouldn’t it be better if scientific research focused on creating devices with ultra-low power consumption instead of the energy-guzzling AI? In comparison to AI, the brain is very efficient: it is capable of performing 10 quadrillion calculations per second using only 10 watts. A computer as powerful as the brain needs1 gigawatt.

The Seven Wise Men expects AI to speed up the process of climate change due to the exponential consumption of energy and natural resources considering an average 20 Billion consumer AI-enabled devices (5 to 50 Billion are the minimum and maximum).

AI proponents believe that in order to do something most efficiently, we need AI first. But, by the time AI becomes meaningful and economically-viable, the environment would have deteriorated beyond hope.